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by Laferty Saturday, Sep. 19, 2009 at 6:09 AM

I believe that KPFK is in real danger of losing its political soul.

Open Letter to KPFK Listeners from Jim Lafferty

September 16, 2009

Dear Friends and Listeners of KPFK:

I believe that KPFK is in real danger of losing its political soul. My fear is that the current national leadership, perhaps out of a sincere desire to solve Pacifica’s very real financial problems, is prepared to turn the station, programmatically, into another KCRW. Now, KCRW is a perfectly fine public radio station. But it is not KPFK. L.A. does not need another KCRW, but it surely needs at least one KPFK! KPFK must continue to bring the “voice of the voiceless” to our airwaves. It must continue to host shows with a decidedly left, anti-establishment, anti-government, anti-racist, anti-sexist, etc., view point. It must use its ability to reach out to all the diverse populations in L.A. by broadcasting from the union halls and churches and meeting rooms of the rainbow of working class neighborhoods in and around L.A. so that their voices are heard and so that the progressive causes that concern them are known and advanced.

Another basis for my fear is that while it was a fight from the very beginning to get some Spanish language programming on the air at KPFK, it now appears that we are retreating on our committment to Spanish language programming at a time when we ought to be increasing its time on our station. After all, Spanish speakers represent the majority population in Los Angeles. Other Spanish language stations do not air the sort of left political programming that KPFK does. KPFK should be making a special effort to recruit the best new on-air Spanish language hosts it can find; work to improve the skills of current Spanish language programmers (just as it should be working to imrove the on-air skills of every non-Spanish language programmer at the station, myself included!); and, make every effort to employ more people of color, in general, at the station.

Internally, there must be transparency and true due process when any host, or any show is cancelled. While I was interim General Manager of KPFK it was always my position that all members of the station, be they employees covered by the union contract or volunteer programmers, had the same rights to due process when their status was to be altered. That should continue to be the case.

If we are to honestly still call KPFK an “alternative radio station,” and a “community radio station” that is true to the mission statement of Lew Hill, then we must be willing to do these things. We must stay true to our principles even as we tighten our financial belt.

One way to save KPFK, keep it true to its heritage, is for our listeners to chose the next Station Board carefully. I am not by this statement necessarily endorsing any candidate on any slate, or any candidate running as an independent (nor should this statement be taken to suggest otherwise). However, I do strongly urge our listeners to listen carefully to the on-air candidate forums, read the candidates’ statements, consider their personal backgrounds and expressed goals for the station, and where you find them to be consistent with what I have suggested KPFK must do and be if it is to have a bright, principled, future, vote for those candidates and urge your friends to do the same!

In Solidarity,
Jim Lafferty
host, The Lawyers Guild Show

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 5 posted about this article.
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Questions listener Saturday, Sep. 19, 2009 at 2:17 PM
As GM, Lafferty Shut Down the Listener Web Forums susan2 Saturday, Sep. 19, 2009 at 2:23 PM
Mr. Jackie Wednesday, Sep. 23, 2009 at 6:39 AM
Soul lost long ago Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 23, 2009 at 11:31 AM
how easy to criticize, how hard to create better akpfker Wednesday, Sep. 30, 2009 at 4:07 PM
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