In the letter below, Ian Masters, well-known host of "Background
Briefing" on KPFK, responds to a listener by dissing programming and the
fund drive, and slandering KPFK volunteers.
Masters is a leader of the Committee To Strengthen KPFK, now notorious for
soliciting contributions to their club in order to bedazzle some listeners with
a glossy mailer touting their slate during the recent KPFK elections for Local
Although other on-air hosts, notably Agustin Cebada of "La Causa"
is disciplined for airing "dirty laundry," Masters seems to be immune
from equal treatment.
Internally, the station is in disarray, largely
because of divisive and bitter communications like this and by Masters' co-hort,
Lila Garrett, and
by the resounding silence from the station to listeners' critiques. The
webmaster, suddenly and without notice, shut down the comment board on the
station website when it became critical of CTSK and Grace Aaron, now the public
leader of the group. Staff members thwarted listener participation in the
selection of the new General Manager when they leaked
the name of a candidate and, as a result of the breach of confidentiality, the
process and the decision were turned over to the Executive Director of the
Pacifica Foundation, KPFK's parent organization. Most of the leftwing
Latino organizations assiduously avoid KPFK because station staff repeatedly put
obstacles in the way of getting ICE raid notifications aired at the behest of
the LSB's Stop ICE Raids task force and determined broadcast ghettoization of
Spanish and Indigenous language programming.
In his first introduction
to the listeners, the new General Manager, Sean Heitkemper, choose to favor
Sonali Kolhatkar's "Uprising," and mentioned that the show was
"professional" and should be syndicated across the network.
Other hosts and producers are outraged. Heitkemper is notable for
firing beloved broadcaster from KKJZ, in what was widely denounced by the
Los Angeles African American community as an attack on Black programming at the
jazz station and a move toward "safer programming." His wrongful
dismissal of the program director at KKJZ led to a 0K settlement.
The infighting has left KPFK
in shambles, with declining listenership and listener funding. Meanwhile,
KPFK, largely reliant on individual donations, is battling an economy that nears
depression levels and the competition of liberal KTLK Air America radio in the
Los Angeles area market.
And nobody inside the station has the nerve to
call out the Committee To Strengthen KPFK, comprised of leading,mostly white and
monied, Los Angeles liberals, when emails like this are sent to inquiring
On Jun 23, 2008, at 5:33 PM, Ian Masters wrote:
A public radio station, owned by the public? Doesn't the public have a right to know? How do you in good conscience raise money for an organization you know is falling apart (the network is bankrupt and KPFK is running at a 6 figure deficit) because of appalling management, or lack thereof, and an increasing official Station identification with cults, quacks and crackpots? The recent Chemtrails and 9/11 events were station sponsored and it has cost us more a lot more than Richard Clarke. People used to say to me I hear stuff on KPFK I never hear anywhere else, it used to be a complement, now it is dismissal of the idiocy promoted as news and public affairs.
I think this Art Bell - crop circle, chemtrail, 9/11 stuff is fine for insomniacs, but it should not be prime time station policy. With so much provable death, destruction, looting and larceny from Bush/Cheney, it discredits the few journalists left at the station and is a gift to Fox News and the right who can easily dismiss the left as loons.
Perhaps there is a reason the station, with the biggest transmitter West of the Rockies, is going broke and losing audience, while KPCC, with less than a tenth of the signal is thriving. The programming sucks and the station's governance is paralyzed by a few so-called "activists" who shout and scream everybody down at station and board meetings. Eva Georgia even banned two 9/11 cultists Larkins and Johnston (who incredibly are on the board) and another deranged thug, Reyes, who threatened to beat me up at the one and only board meeting I ever went to. Incredibly the new "management" are congratulating themselves that Reyes has been reinstated. Sadly the death of Don White will mean another single issue 9/11 cultist, Condon, will be elevated to the board. He has sent me threatening emails, warning that if I don't see the truth and join the cult, I'll be purged.
As for the last Hammer event, I got lucky, it was the first time the Truthers didn't show up, but they've been a nuisance at all previous Hammer events and have shut down two events I moderated at the Church in Venice, lining up to take over the mike in Q&A and driving the sensible folks out the doors. They also discouraged me from listener call-ins because no matter what the subject and who the guest was, they wanted to talk about building 7. Why are you defending this tragic squandering of a precious public resource that is going down the tubes for reasons in plain sight? Why should I subside these parasites and lie to the public? I still believe KPFK can be rescued, but don't pretend we're striking a blow for truth, peace and freedom, when we are wallowing in irrelevance.