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KPFK Broadcasts Message Attacking Interim Board

by Alex Wednesday, Jan. 09, 2002 at 10:27 AM
tungtung@pacbell.net

Los Angeles Pacifica Station KPFK has begun broadcasting a message about the problems caused by the old Pacifica Board. However, they've written the message and are sending listeners to a web site that blames the problems on the recently installed interim Pacifica Board.

errorFor those of you who haven't heard it yet, KPFK, the Los Angeles Pacifica affiliate, is broadcasting the following message. I've heard it read by both Beto Arcos and Marc Cooper.

The message, and the website the message suggests people surf to are both filled with half truths, most of which imply that the present Pacifica board is responsible for the station's financial troubles and current line up.

Here is the message and an analysis.

"KPFK is sponsored by listeners like you, but this radio station is owned by something called the Pacifica Foundation. For over fifty years, Pacifica has been a contentious organization, with more that its share of internal strife. At KPFK, were committed to the Pacifica mission and we are also committed to an historic Pacifica principle... to address our differences behind the scenes and do our best to prevent internal disputes from hindering or distracting from our service to listeners. We want KPFK to talk about the world, not ourselves."

So far, so good. The message discusses the infamous gag rule, which makes a lot more sense to me now that I've listened the partisans of both sides discussing their issues on air.

"However, we now find ourselves in a very difficult and urgent situation that deserves a public explanation.

We must apologize to many of you who pledged during our November fund drive and who have not yet received your thank you gifts. We do not know when those gifts will be mailed out, because the Pacifica Foundation has not paid our bills for those items."

An apology and explanation would be a good idea. However, things start to get a little twisty here. The message's authors makes the Pacifica Foundation look like the villians: Those bad people are denying you your stuff!!

"We must also apologize to the many, many listeners across Southern California who are still having trouble hearing us because KPFK is operating at only one quarter of our licensed power. We have brand new transmitters, but they have been sitting uninstalled for many months because the Pacifica Foundation has not paid the bills necessary for installing them."

Once again making it the board's fault. However, the message NEVER says anything about the fact that the old board, which is responsible for these policies, has just been replaced by a new board. This new board, as most of you know, is an interim board. It has not yet had a face to face meeting and only organized itself by phone on December 29th.

"How is this possible when KPFK has had one record-breaking fund drive after another? In this past year, at the direction of Pacifica, all control of KPFKs accounts and banking were moved from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. In the name of centralization and efficiency, all of our accounting and check writing are now handled there by Pacifica and KPFK has not received accounting reports on how our money is being spent. This is a shock, but we at KPFK must disclose that we have learned in recent weeks that Pacifica has spent our money."

Note that they don't talk about HOW the old board at Pacifica spent the money. Let's look at that:

$$ spent hiring the union busting law firm EB&G. Later EB&G was replaced by the expensive and prestigious Williams & Connelly

$$ for the expensive PR campaign, $58,000 during the KPFA lockout alone. Later, Bessie Walsh hired Westhill Partners, a pricy PR firm which has represented the tobacco industry and Monica Lewinsky

$$ toward the $23,987 bill for the security cameras at WBAI,

$$ for the $390,000 dollars spent on security during the KPFA lockou

$$ for $7000 worth of boarding up windows during the KPFA lockout

$$ for the twenty thousand dollars of damage done to KPFA equipment when hired security cut the wire to the transmitter during the KPFA lockout

$$ lost due to the disastrous effect of banninb Democracy Now on fundraising

$$ spent hiring non-union Feature Story News to produce timely content played before the Democracy Now reruns. This news is represented as being "from the Pacifica newsroom," although it actually comes from the remotely located company that also supplies Fox and the Voice Of America.

$$ lost when 15 affiliates (and their payments) jump ship due to the Democracy Now debacle.

Keep in mind that KPFK station manager Mark Schubb has been a partisan of the old "Bessie Walsh" board for years, and that his "Y2K memo" demanded that all of KPFK's "programmers" (unpaid, non-union air talent) sign over full ownership and subsidiary rights to all the shows they'd been producing at their own expense. This resulted in many excellent shows going off the air.

(Note that most of the above information comes from the excellent "Pacifica Chronology" found at http://www.ominous-valve.com/pacific2.html

In fact, the whole site at http://www.ominous-valve.com is worth a look.)

"KPFK s savings accounts, years of operating surpluses, and even the bulk of KPFK s $800,000 capital fund for our transmitters and new control rooms are simply no longer available to KPFK. The money has been and continues to be diverted elsewhere in Pacifica. Even the continuity of our electrical service is threatened."

Hmmm... maybe if KPFK had refused to obey the old board's orders you'd have some money right now.

"In short, Pacifica has taken control of our finances and the money that we raised from you, KPFK s listeners, and is not being used for the purposes intended or budgeted."

See above.

"Also..For the first time in the history of Pacifica, the Pacifica National Board has decided to encroach on the editorial independence of our station, and now intends to have the board itself make decisions about who or what you might hear on KPFK."

This is just nonsense. To quote from the Ominous Valve chronology:

"KPFT, at the time probably the country's most adventurous community FM station, begins broadcasting in 11 languages. Pacifica executive director Sharon Maeda is sent out to "professionalize" KPFT, and incidentally to cut down all the foreign language programming, which was deemed too hard to monitor for content. This leads to the extreme demotion of Ray Hill, a gay activist and radio visionary who pretty much created KPFT, and who now carries on solely as host of "The Prison Show." It also leads eventually to the departure of legendary Rafael Renteria, a Marxist revolutionary who was unafraid of airing anything."

In other words, the Pacifica Board has been interfering with the editorial independence of its stations since AT LEAST 1981.

"The situation is difficult and its outcome is unclear. What is certain is that Pacifica needs to hear loud and clear your voice of support for fiercely independent broadcasting. To find out how to help KPFK in this precarious moment, we ask you to go to the web.. click on www.friendsofKPFK.org.. thats one word friendsofkpfk dot o r g."

Actually, the situation is well on its way to being fixed. The KPFK broadcasts of the message in this form simply serve to continue making Pacifica look bad, and we've had enough of that from the old board. Also, the web site in question gives out what appears to be the home number of National Board member Dave Fertig, and the work number of Local Area Board chairman David Adelson as contacts for these board members. I suspect that for the past few days these men have been getting nasty calls blaming them for a situation that they did not create.

"Thanks for your attention and your support."

There you have it. A message and a web site dedicated to making the new, interim Pacifica Board look bad for the errors and excesses committed by the old board. Won't the dumbass who authorized these broadcasts ever learn?


WHAT CAN I DO?

Contact KPFK and tell them what you think. Here is their contact information:

3729 Cahuenga Blvd. West
North Hollywood, CA 91604

Main phone: (818) 985-2711
Fax: (818) 763-7526
Studio phone (for call-in shows): (818) 985-5735
Email: comments@kpfk.org

You might also want to tell KPFK that they need to start broadcasting Democracy Now in their 9:00 slot.

You can also contact the following people and discuss your feelings.

General Manager, Mark Schubb (818) 985-2711 Ext: 503. His email is: GM@kpfk.org

Operations Manager, Stacey Fancher (818) 985-2711 Ext: 205. Email at: sfancher@kpfk.org

Administrative Manager, Terence Chang (818) 985-2711 Ext: 206 Email at: tchang@kpfk.org

Let them know how you feel about their attempts to vilify the interim board and impede a solution to the Pacifica Crisis.

You can also e-mail Betto Arcos barcos@kpfk.org and Marc Cooper mcooper@kpfk.org, who have lent their names to these messages. Marc Cooper's behavior in this matter has been particularly vile. I only caught the last few minutes of his interview with Dave Fertig on Moday, but it sounded to me like he'd spent an hour asking Dave "are you still beating your wife questions" and not giving him time to answer.
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 3 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Addendum Alex Wednesday, Jan. 09, 2002 at 4:09 PM
My response to friendsofkpfk.org Jan Bramlett Thursday, Jan. 10, 2002 at 4:12 PM
URLs for Comic Relief Alex Thursday, Jan. 10, 2002 at 9:18 PM

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