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WBAI Pays a Price for Null’s Shilling

Lee Phillips
April 29th, 2024

In 2009 radio health guru Gary Null sued me for 10 million dollars because he didn’t like what I had written here and elsewhere about his qualifications, his on-air advice, and the products that he was shilling over the airwaves (he also sued Wikipedia for 100 million dollars; both suits were thrown out).

WBAI is part of the noncommercial Pacifica radio network. Noncommercial stations are not allowed to sell products over the air; it’s a violation of their broadcast license. I used to tune in to WPFW, another Pacifica station and a previous host to Gary Null, when driving around DC because it was the only spot on the dial where one had a chance to catch some Miles or Monk or other midcentury jazz. But more often I would stumble across its weird public affairs programming. Their hosts still took Noam Chomsky seriously. I found it all amusing until I happened upon Null, who was not funny at all.

Of course Pacifica outlets have been advised over the years that letting people shill products through its stations was a no-no, and also that the content of some of their programs was extremely dubious. But they let it all go on, because these people brought in the money during the pledge drives. If WBAI survives the latest FCC action, which includes an abbreviated license renewal and extra scrutiny, I hope they are guided by more rational management.

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