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by Dan Coughlin Thursday, May. 30, 2002 at 2:28 PM

KPFK hires Eva Georgia, Capetown community radio pioneer to guide station rebuilding.


CONTACT: Dan Coughlin


Selection Process Reflects New Democracy, Spirit of Unity

WASHINGTON, DC (May 28) Community radio pioneer Eva Georgia has been named as the new General Manager of Pacifica Radio station KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, the Pacifica Radio network announced today.

The appointment of the South African-born journalist concludes an unprecedented two-month search process that involved a broad array of KPFK staff, listeners, community groups, and local and national board members.

This appointment marks an important milestone in the development of Pacifica as a democratic and accountable media organization, said Pacifica Interim Executive Director Dan Coughlin. Eva is a true radio pioneer who emerged from a unique, participatory process that is symbolic of the new democracy now being constructed at Pacifica.

The 34-year-old Georgia cut her journalistic teeth covering the township uprisings of the early 1980s in apartheid South Africa. She is widely acclaimed for taking the initiative to form the country's very first community radio station located just north of Cape Town, in the township of Atlantis.

Launched in conjunction with the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU), Radio Atlantis quickly earned a reputation for tackling head on the key issues facing the community, including gang violence, police corruption, violence against women, the AIDS epidemic, and homophobia.

Atlantis had the highest per capita homicide rate in the world in 1989 and a 47 percent unemployment rate. But the radio station helped turn the tide, giving the township a crucial forum to discuss solutions to critical problems facing the community.

After violence claimed 21 lives in 1997, gangsters refused to speak to anyone in authority except to the Atlantis manager, Eva Georgia. She successfully mediated between the gangs, the police and former President Nelson Mandela's office to end the violence. In fact, Radio Atlantis became so important to local residents that women factory workers went on strike when managers barred the station from being played in the workplace.

Subsequently, Eva played a key role in the setting up and launching of the first and largest commercial talk radio in Cape Town, where she became assistant general manager in 1997.

For the past two years, Eva served as the Social Marketing Program Coordinator for Gen Q, a Long Beach, California-based HIV prevention program for young gay and bisexual men.

The KPFK GM search process highlighted Pacifica's renewed commitment to democratic participation and transparency. It was led by a 13-person search committee that included three paid staff representatives, three at large listener members, two Local Advisory Board members, two members from the listener activist Free Pacifica Neighborhood Network (FPNN), one unpaid staff member, one Pacifica national board member, and one representative of staff that had been fired and banned by the previous KPFK regime.

Fifteen applicants were interviewed for the post and three finalists were selected. The search committee met with numerous FPNN chapters and reviewed a wide range of listener comments. Two separate public forums were held. Pacifica director Dan Coughlin made the final hiring decision based on recommendations from the search committee

Founded in 1949, Pacifica Radio is the nation's first listener-supported, community-based radio network. Along with KPFK Los Angeles, it includes KPFA Berkeley 94.1 FM, WBAI New York 99.5 FM, KPFT Houston 90.1 FM, WPFW Washington, D.C., 89.3 FM, and nearly 60 affiliates in 27 states. The network features Democracy Now!, a daily news magazine hosted by Pacifica's award-winning journalist Amy Goodman.

In recent years, listeners and rank-and-file staff fought against the network's board of directors in an effort to prevent the sale of the stations and restore the network to its historic peace and social justice mission.

The crisis was resolved last December when a group of lawsuits brought by reform directors, local station advisory boards, and listeners were settled. The board of directors was reconstituted, and the network has slowly been returning to its mission. Most significantly, the settlement mandated listener elections for democratic governance at the 53-year-old non-profit broadcaster.

In January, the Pacifica settlement brought a new interim general manager to KPFK, Steven Starr, of the L.A. Independent Media Center and the Freenet Project. Last month, long time staff member Roy Hurst took over for Mr. Starr in the interim leadership post, and managed the station leading up to and through the recent record-breaking fund drive.

Eva Georgia will formally take the reigns of KPFK on June 10th.


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