I've been reading all the KPFK election analyses, charges
and countercharges, and arcane commentary, and I can imagine how confusing it
must be to be plowing through this to fill out a ballot. If your ballot
is still on your desk or over there on the table, go grab it and a pen, and lay
it out in front of you while I try to sort out what you've been hearing.
When you finish, fill out your ballot. You need to get it to the station
by Thursday, so if you're too late to mail it, grab yours and your friend's
ballot and head to 3729 Cahuenga Blvd. West in North
Hollywood. Your choices in this election matter that much.
Full disclosure: I'm sitting here in the catbird seat on the Pacifica
National Board, and I'm rooting for the candidates with the Ad Hoc Committee to Strengthen KPFK:
Kahllid A. Al-Alim (you need to write him in at the
bottom of your ballot and mark him #1)
Cuco (Refugio Ceballos)
What You're Hearing Is What's Going On
Let me take a moment to break it down for you, because all of the confusion
really does come down to what you want KPFK and Pacifica to be.
You heard some of the confusion in our fund drive: is KPFK going to keep its
cutting edge in public affairs, or is it going to be a self-help station,
geared to the narcissistic needs of those of us trying to cope with aches,
pains, and wrinkles? One side is betting that you're looking for
"Ageless Answer" to firm up that sagging jawline.
I'm betting that you want to be part of the dialogue about our neighborhoods
and our world.
One side, the Committee To Strengthen KPFK, was
founded by Grace Aaron and now promotes her spouse among their
candidates. Grace was chair of the Local Station Board when Eva Georgia
left us, and in February Grace became the Interim Executive Director of
Pacifica and Chair of the Pacifica National Board. Under her leadership,
General Manager Sean Heitkemper resigned and two
other general managers' positions were vacated. The two largest stations,
KPFK and WBAI, have interim appointees for both their general manager and their
program director. At the National Office, the Chief Financial Officer has
been temporary for eight months and the Executive Director has been interim for over a year. Our professionals are leaving
For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, the preliminary balance sheet
shows a total for net assets and liabilities of $9,253,098.03. The
audit for September 30, 2008 indicates the same total was $10,229,082.
When Grace tells you this board majority has turned a corner in the financial
crisis, consider that the total for September 2007 was $8,613,848, and look at
the direction of that turn. The last significant budget cuts were staff
layoffs in November 2008. It was just last year that we in Southern
California were shocked at the twenty-day fund drives at WBAI in New
York. Our just-completed fund drive was 25 days long. So now you
know why we heard KPFK's longest fund drive.
Where It's Coming From
Besides the programming changes you've heard, the exodus of management and
the programmers you've wondered about, and the financial "turn
around," there's a fundamental difference in vision. One side wants
Pacifica to be bigger, and the strategy to get there is to appeal to a broader
audience. That means less community programming and more national
programming, broadcasting the same "flagship" shows across all five
stations, like (you can fill in your favorite mainstream radio network
here). If you listen closely, you can hear that in our newly combined
evening news broadcast dominated by KPFA in Berkeley, while KPFK's news
department is left with a single full-time reporter. The simultaneous pitching
at KPFA and KPFK is another hint. "Something's Happening" is
bragging about its extra half-hour, while the morning Spanish-language news
show "Informativo Pacifica" has been pushed
to a late evening slot. The evening Spanish-language programmers are left to wonder
where they're going to fit, and the predominantly Black late night music
programmers worry that they'll have to give way. Expect more programming
changes, especially to the so-called "narrow interest" public affairs
shows, in the weeks ahead. When bigger means broader,
it means something closer to the middle. Amy Goodman has already
put the Interim Executive Director on notice that she's not happy with similar changes at WBAI, and one of the CTSK
candidates is openly
suggesting that Amy is getting money to cover up the truth of 9-11.
In the year ahead, your contribution will help KPFK will pay for extensive Arbitron statistics. Arbitrons are the standard measure of the number of listeners to commercial radio. Arbitron methodology is now under investigation by the
House Committee for Oversight and Government Reform, which has cited "persistent
problems"; with undercounted minority sample audiences, but that might not matter so much if KPFK's programming continues in the direction its
Broader audiences mean bigger costs, and, for a year, rumors have been
buzzing about how to pay for all these changes. One of the most insidious
is the mumbling about underwriting: having foundations and other non-profits
pay for shows of their choice in exchange for mentions on the air. You
can hear underwriting on any NPR station. One Pacifica director (from another
station) told me we need, "an audience that can afford us." And
maybe that's an audience that will donate to foundation underwriters.
Don't pick up your pen yet. Lean back and imagine that the Pacifica
National Office threatens to lock KPFK management out of our transmission tower
and summarily replaces both the General Manager and the Program Director with
friends of the Executive Director. Imagine the new management's first
actions, in just two weeks in, were firing your favorite paid staff and banning
volunteer programmers. You can stop imagining now. That's the WBAI
story. In the midst of an economic depression and strapped with fixed
expenses for its building and tower that are more than triple that of any other
station, the National Office's solution is to overturn everything familiar at
WBAI. Perhaps you've heard that the Interim Executive Director has
"saved" WBAI, that contributions, the money
promised to WBAI, are up under the new management, but this weekend we heard
that fulfillment rate, the number of people who actually paid that money, is
down by close to 20%.
Some Uncomfortable History
Allow me a brief digression into recent history. It's uncanny that the
current actions of the leadership of Pacifica mirror, to a remarkable degree,
the board of directors that was unseated in 2002 after demands for
- Back in 1999, Pacifica
National Board Chair Mary Frances Berry began a series of interventions in
local stations following a widely broadcast concern that Corporation for
Public Broadcasting funds were in jeopardy; in 2009, Pacifica National
Board Chair Grace Aaron (also Interim Executive Director) begins a series of
interventions in local stations after a widely broadcast concern that the
network was facing a financial shortfall.
- On December 22, 2000,
Executive Director Bessie Wash changed the locks at the WBAI station; on
April 1, 2009 the iED orders the locks changed
at the WBAI transmitter tower. It was a decade earlier to the day,
on April 1, 1999, that then Executive Director Lyn Chadwick fired KPFA's general manager Nichole Sawaya for refusing to cooperate in consolidating the Berkeley's administration
and staffing into the National Office. Today, most of WBAI's finances are now managed out of the National Office.
- In December of 2000, Wash
replaced WBAI's General Manager Valerie Van Isler with Utrice Leid; on May 4, 2009, the current iED replaces WBAI's General Manager Anthony Riddle
with LaVarn Williams.
- In December, 2000, Leid fires programmer Sharan Harper and progressive Program Director and popular Wake-Up Call host
Bernard White, and locks them out of the station; in May, 2009, Williams
fires programmer Ayo Harrington and progressive Program Director and
popular Wake-Up Call host Bernard White, and locks them out of the
- On January 24, 2001, Leid issues a "gag order" prohibiting on-air
discussion of Pacifica; on April 20, 2009, the iED issues an order that effectively prohibits any uncomplimentary comments
about people associated with WBAI. On July 17, the order is extended
across the network.
The Other Side
If you've followed me this far, I should assure you that there is hope short
of another Pacifica Struggle. There is another side, one that wants KPFK
to be deeper, not broader. We want to reach more progressive,
future-oriented people. That means community-based programming, more
autonomy for KPFK, and greater diversity among our listeners. We want to find a
thousand new $50 members, before we solicit a single $50,000 major
donor. Right now, we're the minority, but with your vote, we won't be in
2010. Locally, we're the Ad Hoc
Committee for KPFK Community Radio, and we need you to stand and vote with
We have as our principles:
- Implementing the core values
of the Pacifica Mission: voices by and for people not commonly heard in
the mainstream media
- Greater autonomy and local
decision-making for our radio station
- Fiscal transparency and
responsibility: people, not corporate underwriters, supporting
- Local, diverse, multilingual,
and young voices from and for our communities
- Spanish language programming
to bring progressive messages to Spanish language communities
- Effective, participatory
governance that is accountable to listener-sponsors and responsive to the
diverse needs and interests of the Southern California listening community
And we have listener candidates committed to those principles
Pick up that pen now, and start filling in those tiny squares. Some of
you fought the Pacifica Struggle for this moment, the chance to change KPFK with
a vote instead of a lawsuit.
Kahllid A. Al-Alim (you need to write him in at the
bottom of your ballot and mark him #1)
Cuco (Refugio Ceballos)
Our staff candidates include Rodrigo Argueta,
Fernando Velazquez, Omar Burdett, and Nadia Lee Richardson.
We're not alone. Our endorsers include Yousef Abudayyeh (National Coordinator, The Free
Palestine Alliance, USA*), Elahe Amani (Iranian women and human rights activist,
mediator and artist), Yolanda Anguiano (LSB
member*), Lydia Brazon (former iLAB Chair, former PNB Director, human rights activist), Bill
Gallegos (Communities for a Better Environment*), Sherna Berger Gluck (LSB member, programmer for "Radio Intifada"*), Sundiata Griotts (African storyteller), International Action Center Los Angeles, Dedon Kamathi (programmer
for "Freedom Now"*), and Hamid Khan (South Asian Network, programmer for "Beneath the Surface"*).
Did I mention Peggy Lee Kennedy (Venice Justice Committee*), L.A.
County Peace and Freedom, Nativo Lopez (Mexican American Political Association*), Norma Martinez (programmer
for "Informativo Pacifica"*), Elizabeth
Mejia (programmer for "Insurgencia Feminina"*). Calvin E. Moss (Venice/Santa
Monica Food Not Bombs*), Michael Novick (Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles/People Against Racist
Terror*), and the Puerto Rican Alliance.
Don't let me forget Jerry Quickley (former
producer and host), Victor Rodriguez (Department of Chicano and Latino
Studies, CSULB*), Pedro Sanchez (programmer for "Suplemento Comunitario"*), SEIU
Local 721 Latino Caucus, Jim Smith (Free Venice Beachhead*), South
Central Farmers, South Central Farmers Action Fund, South Central Farmers
Cooperative, Southern California Immigration Coalition, Bernard White (fired and banned program director and host from WBAI), and Tim Wise (anti-racist speaker and author)
We're a nascent movement, the beginning of returning KPFK to its Mission, to
its roots, and to its communities and to its future. We'll be here for
you after the elections too, and we hope you'll be with us.
Delegate, KPFK Local Station Board*
Director, Pacifica Foundation National Board*
*Oganizational affiliations noted for identification purposes only.
Eye-opening! I get it now, and I know how I'm voting. Thank you.
KPFK spends 11 months a year telling anyone who is college educated, middle class or, God forbid, white, that THEY are the cause and beneficiary of all social injustice in the world. Then it spends that 12th month begging these very same people for handouts to keep the station on the air. Us white devils who own homes would be far more likely to contribute to fine programming such as Amy Goodman and Ian Masters if we didn't have to sit through the insults of Lilah Garrett and Pocho Hour of Power to get to it. And enough with the cancer cures! Seriously, you are starting to sound like a bad infomercial.
Leslie sounds like she is giving you her-story with selected comparisons to make HER point...everyone but her special group is in cahoots to ruin and sell out the KPFK station, of which she is only a small part.
She is ambious too, tho not stated. So her choice of preferred LSB mates is for her to get to be ED or anything higher than she has so far been able to climb, while she is deliberately pretending to only question others, and while disrupting the work PNB attempts to accomplish. Go to a PNB meeting yourself and find out what is actual vs. what is carefully presented. A very dissentful and confusing process, helped by Ms. Radford herself.
Leslie gives her version to sell a slate of people SHE wants in - to support her in her own chosen role. A smart woman and with the hope that Indy readers do not care or know the insides much, except to be anti-anything and oppositional to all establishments.To prevent the real current hard-workers that accomplish a subsistence level of living for Pacifica from continuing to do so.
How much easier it is to gain notorious power by positioning oneself as the rebel, the one opposed to those who do diligent work and obtain a position in management.
How much easier it is to disrupt, oppose, question, and accuse, to blame and create unrest, rather than to make positive changes and follow thru on diligent plans...to make the Pacifica stations live up to their financial as well as ideal goals.
To say it is only the minority groups that need to be represented at any Pacifica table and exclude everyone else w ho is not angrily decrying what they dont yet have, is a very slanted and easy place from which to COMPLAIN. And complainers feel powerful.. Tho they seldom contribute much at all. They do complain loudly anyway any where.
And Leslie is complaining, in her article above. Because she wants what she and her group want. Not because anyone deserves or has worked more effectively to obtain the priviledges of on-air or management positions.
The slate has been advertising in what the members hope are sufficiently only LEFT sided local sites , carefully avoiding any "other" alliances, for fear they will be contaminated with what the LA or USA populations as a whole represent and contain. Anyone not angry enough and vinidictive enough need not apply to work with these heavy-duty game players.
For in actual real-live LSB meetings, these are the same people who disrupt, continually dissent and question any and every motion proposed and generally keep all effective work from getting done. Deliberately. They see their role as being rebels and righteously claim that assumed HIGHER STATUS that they have not earned by other work of merit nor for the gain of KPFK or it's sibling stations either.
If the whole P system is cracking and falling down down down, unable to maintain it's buildings, equipment, staff [half are gone already ? ] and work for equality for ALL the peoples...not just those who select themselves as righteous or victims or accusers....then there will be some other kind of 'take over' or 'merger' and a big loss to all will occur.
This is not a prediction, but one scenario that occurs at other non-profit corporations, and Pacifica is one too. This is a concern that is never mentioned. Those who demand to be leaders are not necessarily experienced or equipped to be managers that effect positive results on such a grand scale as this one is.
Better to limp towards the next fully developed plan of action that will save these unsual radio stations than to be crumbling because the angry ambitious accusers of any current & past managements are not
able to take on the heavy real-work roles that is needed.
Easy to win a measly little election where none of the LSB are representing anyone but their tiny group cohorts.
Easy to accuse others and malign those who have worked to assist improving the condition of KPFK and Pacifica, and other stations.
EAsy to write words, as this is done here too, but how much more strenuous and difficult to do the daily practical actions to prevent failures from continually occuring.
And they have. And they may still, If this mean spirited group of candidates has won many seats.
We fear for our station and it's demise. But we will all be there silently standing to help bury it then. RIP KPFK. maybe.....
a major disappointment.
I contributed to the new transmitter
I gave to the station in the course of time $200 for a hope of a new voice.
And found the likes of Masters, still parroting the government script. My he forever kiss my ass.
They don't even carry gun n butter or taking aim. They are irrelevant
I do believe Leslie is a threat to this stasis and needs to 'promote herself' as this is what the opposition is doing with hidden funding. As yet unaddressed.
I found KPFK a few years ago and listen whenever possible. I tell all I can about itIn or about it and promote it any way I can. However, in June 2009 or thereabouts I realized I was not hearing from Mumia A. Jamaal any more. A loss, to be sure. Then I heard Jerry Quickley had been fired. To me, he was fantastic, with humor, street smarts and just plain smarts. Fired? Are you kidding? I also heard Ian Masters discussing, openly, nutcases and would be revolutionaries, with a certain edge to it. I am not happy. No way can I agree with Jerry Quickley's firing and alatho' I love Masters' interviews, I am not inaterestaed in hearing him every day. He is not funny in the way Quickley was and Quickley was a great fundraiser on air. I believe this new group is off base. KPFK will have a committed group of supporters with more progressive programming. Get Mumia back! What's KPFK gonna sell if it just becomes another NPR? Thank you for your work!