Gary Null has been a controversial figure in alternative health and progressive politics for decades. He is best known for hosting the longest running show on the listener-sponsored radio station WBAI in New York City. His program, called “Natural Living with Gary Null” has been on the air since 1973, making it one of the longest running radio shows in broadcast history. However, in recent years some major changes have occurred at WBAI that have called into question whether Null’s show will continue to have a home there. In this article, we’ll look at Null’s long history on WBAI, the recent turmoil at the station, and what it means for the future of “Natural Living with Gary Null.”
Gary Null’s History on WBAI
Gary Null first started volunteering at WBAI in the late 1960s. In 1973 he started hosting a new program called “Natural Living” that focused on topics like nutrition, alternative medicine, exercise, and progressive politics. The show quickly became one of the most popular on the station. Null’s outspoken stances on controversial health topics and his alternative takes on political issues resonated with WBAI’s fiercely independent and left-leaning listener base.
Over the decades, Null has used his WBAI show as a platform to promote his particular brand of alternative health advice and political commentary. He has frequently brought on controversial guests like anti-vaccine advocates and 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Null has also used the show to promote his numerous books, documentaries and other products he sells that propound alternative health treatments.
Recent Turmoil at WBAI
While Null’s show has enjoyed a nearly 50 year run on WBAI, the station itself has faced increasing struggles in recent years. WBAI is owned by the nonprofit Pacifica Foundation, which has faced frequent leadership changes and infighting among its board and supporters. Critics allege that Pacifica has mismanaged WBAI for years, leading to decreasing listenership and donations.
In 2019, citing growing financial problems, Pacifica announced abrupt layoffs of most of WBAI’s paid staff. This led to protests from listeners and knocks WBAI off the air for a period of time. When the station came back, significant programming changes were made, including cancelling Null’s show. However, after a court ruling and negotiations, Null’s program was reinstated.
|1973||Gary Null’s “Natural Living” premieres on WBAI|
|2019||WBAI lays off most staff due to financial issues|
|2019||Null’s show cancelled in programming overhaul|
|2019||Show reinstated after court ruling and negotiations|
The leadership turmoils and programming disputes have continued into 2020 and 2021. Various proposals have been made to try to sell WBAI’s broadcast license and assets to stabilize Pacifica’s finances. There have been petitions and protests from listeners aimed at trying to save local programming like Null’s show.
Is Null’s Show Still on WBAI?
With all the recent uncertainty, is Gary Null’s show still airing on WBAI today?
The answer is yes…for now. As of August 2022, “Natural Living” is still listed as airing Monday through Friday from 12-1pm Eastern time on WBAI’s program schedule.
However, given the continuing turmoil around Pacifica and WBAI’s future, it’s not guaranteed Null’s show will remain on the air indefinitely. There is a possibility WBAI could be sold and have its programming changed entirely. There’s also a chance Pacifica leadership could once again preemptively cancel or make major changes to Null’s show.
For now, dedicated listeners can still tune into 99.5 FM in the New York region or stream the show worldwide on wbai.org during the usual noon time slot. But the long term fate of the show remains uncertain.
The Importance of WBAI to Gary Null
Beyond the show itself, losing his WBAI platform would be a major blow for Gary Null. WBAI has been crucial for Null in promoting his various alternative health products, books and political views.
Null has mastered using the radio medium to build his personal brand and business. Without access to WBAI’s airwaves, Null would lose his main media megaphone in the big New York media market. It would seriously curtail his ability to reach his established listener base.
Of course, Null does have other media platforms from podcasts to YouTube videos. He sells his products through multiple websites and has authored bestselling books. However, WBAI has offered him a consistent, influential radio platform week after week for decades. Losing his show would unquestionably be a disruption to his business and public profile – especially in New York.
The Future of Alternative Health on WBAI
Beyond just Null’s fate, there are bigger questions around whether WBAI will continue to be a source for alternative health programming in New York.
WBAI and Pacifica were founded with missions to provide perspectives outside the mainstream. Over the years, Null’s show has been a flagship for promoting controversial ideas about health, medicine and nutrition. But with WBAI facing an uncertain future, it brings up questions about whether these perspectives will continue to have a platform there.
If WBAI abandons or significantly alters its alternative health programming, it could represent a major loss for this type of voice in the media landscape. Skeptics would surely celebrate it as a victory over what they see as potentially dangerous health misinformation. But to supporters, it would be losing an important community resource for highlighting alternative wellness perspectives.
In summary, Gary Null’s nearly 50 year run on WBAI remains intact for the moment. But huge questions loom about the future of both the station and his long-standing show. Null has relied heavily on WBAI to promote his views and products, so losing that platform could be a major setback for him. More broadly, the potential loss of alternative health voices on WBAI, including Null’s, would have an impact on the diversity of perspectives available in the media. Both Null and WBAI face pivotal and uncertain times ahead. If Null’s show goes off the air, it will be the end of an era for this controversial figure.