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KPFK: Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

by Paul H. Rosenberg Sunday, Jan. 27, 2002 at 7:04 PM 562-436-3113

The new old forces now in charge of KPFK could not have found a manager more like Mark Shubb if they had gone out and cloned him. That, at least, is my opinion of one activist who knows them both, and has just announced his departure from IMC-LA, largely due to insularity and lack of vision that he attributes in part to Starr's influence.

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

The new old forces now in charge of KPFK could not have found a manager more like Mark Shubb if they had gone out and cloned him. That, at least, is my opinion of the appointment of Steven Starr. Like Shrubb, Starr is someone I've known before he became KPFK manager. Although they're aligned on opposite sides, I can't think anyone more similar to Shrubb in the way he operates than Starr is.

But, hey, I've had "personality conflicts" with both of them, so who am I to talk? But here's what's significant. (1) In both cases, I was the one who did a great deal of hands-on grunt work, as well as organizational planning, and they were the ones who meet with others in private to consolidate opinion on their side.* (2) In both cases, the substantive issues were given short shrift, once the "personality conflict" explanation was trotted out.

These are very troubling similarities in operating style. I would never pretend to be good general manager material. Some degree of manipulation that I find distasteful may indeed be necessary for the job. But something else is necessary as well-a sense of what's important that goes beyond one's own ego to encompass points of view that are profoundly different and challenging to one's own, but still part of the progressive tradition. And it wouldn't hurt if the person actually had hands-on, nitty-gritty activist experience, as opposed to one million frequent-schmoozer miles.

Rather than bore you with my own long-winded analysis, let me just quote him briefly and offer some brief comments. This is from an IMC-LA-WORK email, responding to me:

As for 'trying very hard to function within the process, and Steven isn't', it's just not true; I've used consensus consistently, since I mentioned Life and Debt at the Quaker House seven months ago, to get us mobilized/ involved, I've used it to get us all to agree to do a Consensus Training a few weeks ago, to get us to pay more attention to the Principles of Unity, to set up the Encuentro, to set up the space."

Apparently, where Starr is coming from, consensus process is something you use, just as you might use a lawsuit-to get your way, not to participate in something larger than yourself and your own ego. That, at least, is how this passage struck me. I spoke of "functioning within the process," he spoke of using it to get his agenda accepted by the group.

What Pacifica needs right now is *not* the replacement of one clique by another. What it needs is openness and dialogue. Not expert manipulators who can give the *appearance* of openness and dialogue, but people with a long, deep record of producing the genuine article. Based on my experience within IMC-LA, Steven Starr is definitely *not* such a person.

In addition to the agenda he pushed 'using the consensus process' was an agenda he blocked-an agenda I believed in to make IMC the one-stop information source for all of radical/progressive LA activism, bringing together thousands of organizations and activists working in dozen of different issue areas, all related to fundamental issues of global social justice. Starr's influence in blocking this expansive vision of what IMC LA could become is a major reason I am leaving IMC, but the real cause isn't Starr himself, but the collective's insularity and disinterest in reaching out to the larger activist community. Starr was a champion of this insular outlook, and that makes him a remarkably poor choice for putting the community back into community radio.

But, I could be wrong, and I hope for the sake of us all that I am. Maybe Steven sees KPFK differently than he sees IMC, and he will be a great manager. But ultimately, it's up to the whole community to be much more pro-active in holding all our media-makers accountable. (Including me, of course.) It would be no different if the choice had been a clone of Lew Hill, rather than Mark Shubb. In fact, the responsibility would have been even greater. The more impressive the leader, the greater the need for critical vigilance. Eugene Debs said it best when he refused to lead people into paradise. For if one person could lead the masses into paradise, one person could just as easily lead them out.

"Don't follow leaders,

Watch the parking meters."

-- Bob Dylan.

Your time has expired.

And so has mine.

Paul Rosenberg has been continuously involved in IMC-LA since a few weeks before the D2K demonstrations. He has just announced his departure from the IMC-LA collective. He has just begun working as an assistant editor at Random Lengths, a genuine alternative biweekly serving San Pedro and the greater Harbor Area, and is working on a book, "Beyond War: Fighting Terrorism At Its Roots." Click link below for many of the stories he has published on IMC-LA.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 16 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
comment moved from center column to below johnk Sunday, Jan. 27, 2002 at 7:26 PM
Support For Starr Chris Burnett Sunday, Jan. 27, 2002 at 8:21 PM
Was You There, Charlie? Paul H. Rosenberg Sunday, Jan. 27, 2002 at 11:09 PM
Newswire Debates Chris Burnett Monday, Jan. 28, 2002 at 12:01 AM
Consensus at IMC-Houston is a joke .-D Monday, Jan. 28, 2002 at 12:47 AM
I'm Not Attacking Chris... Paul H. Rosenberg Monday, Jan. 28, 2002 at 2:13 AM
Salvation results from an open honest process Joe Blackburn Monday, Jan. 28, 2002 at 2:59 AM
Support for Steven Starr John Kawakami Monday, Jan. 28, 2002 at 10:43 AM
Starr Supported Insular Vision Of IMC Paul H. Rosenberg Monday, Jan. 28, 2002 at 4:51 PM
another perspective on steven & the imc mary Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2002 at 1:08 AM
Paul as any fule kno'... David Cook Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2002 at 6:10 AM
sir, you have insulted my honor! steven Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2002 at 8:00 AM
Can't fool an old fool .-D Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2002 at 5:26 PM
brief comment peter morgan Saturday, Feb. 16, 2002 at 11:35 PM
kpfk's web- cast BRUCE Monday, Feb. 18, 2002 at 4:27 PM
Notice to D. Cook lithium Thursday, Feb. 21, 2002 at 6:26 PM

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