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The deconstruction of KPFA: Apartheid radio and tokenism

October 23, 2009

by Minister of Information JR

Aimee Allison, Aaron Glantz and Jon Almeleh broadcast "Winter Soldier 2008."
Aimee Allison, Aaron Glantz and Jon Almeleh broadcast "Winter Soldier 2008."
Recently, a white KPFA supporter asked me do I really think that KPFA as a station is racist and deserves to be categorized as apartheid radio? The answer was yes, because still in 2009 KPFA does not have a Black show that speaks to the issues of the Black community in the U.S. KPFA does have shows for the white community, like The Morning Show, Democracy Now and Against the Grain, and for other communities, like the Asians with APEX Express, the Latinos with La Onda and La Raza Chronicles, disabled people with Pushing Limits and so on, but Black people living in the United States are supposed to beg other programmers to air what is important to our community.

The supporter said he thought that the KPFA administration were the ones pushing a racist agenda, and I told him he was right and that hardly anyone on the staff, paid and unpaid, has spoken up and said on the air they believe that the Black community needs a show, which means that other programmers are complicit in the climate that is keeping a Black domestic public affairs show off of the air, also.

And let me remind you, when we say Black show, we’re talking about not one with just any Black host, but one with a Black host that has a resume for working in the community s/he is broadcasting about and has integrity.

The brings me to a KPFA press release dated Oct. 21, 2009, titled “Hip Politics Radio Show & Blog Seeks Accountability and Involvement in city government and communities” and subtitled “’OaklandSeen’ hosted by Aimee Allison.” It goes on to say: “This show is a platform for new ideas and community activism. I’ll tap the Oakland we hardly hear from to discuss the most pressing local issues, to highlight great work in the city, and to keep our city leadership accountable.”

To be blunt, this is from Aimee Allison, of the KPFA Morning Show, a smiling Black token, who in my face at a meeting asked Sasha Lilley, then interim program director of KPFA, to create a party line that all programmers would have to stick to in regards to the police beating of Black KPFA programmer Nadra Foster inside of KPFA, on Aug. 20, 2008. To paraphrase Aimee, she said she was worried about what listeners might think about the incident because the Morning Show, Democracy Now, the KPFA News and Against the Grain totally ignored the issue until the listeners demanded a response. The Block Report and Flashpoints, however, were covering it from the day after it happened, talking to witnesses, fellow programmers and family members of the victim.

Aimee was basically asking Sasha to censor us and cover up what had happened from the listeners, and a year later for being a good pro-police, pro-KPFA administration sellout, she is rewarded with this show. That’s how the game works under KPFA’s East African immigrant neo-colonial General Manager Lemlem Rijio. If you sell out the people, particularly the listeners, you get your own show, and get promoted.

And the last question is, Did the community-involved Program Council approve this? The answer is that although the bylaws say there should be one, Sasha Lilley, under the direction of Lemlem Rijio, destroyed the Program Council. I know because I was on it when she discontinued it.

And then in the middle of the press release Lem-Lem Rijio says: “We are thrilled about OaklandSeen that will respond to our listeners’ needs for local news and analysis. We’re committed to expanding our community coverage.” Bullshit.

Say no to tokenism! Demand a Black public affairs show that really speaks to community issues with some integrity. This is not it!

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.


The Oakland Seen press release

This is the press release announcing the new KPFA show, Oakland Seen. It is presented unedited, exactly as it arrived in the Bay View’s email inbox:

MEDIA ADVISORY, 10/21/2009:

Hip Politics Radio Show & Blog Seeks Accountability and Involvement in city government and communities

“OaklandSeen” Hosted by Aimee Allison

11:00 a.m., Tues., Nov. 3, 2009, KPFA 94.1 FM

“This show is a platform for new ideas and community activism. I’ll tap the Oakland we hardly hear from to discuss the most pressing local issues, to highlight great work in the city, and to keep our city leadership accountable.”

Wed., Oct. 21, 2009, Berkeley, CA — Residents, tax payers, young adults are all seeking answers to the challenges facing Oakland, California; they want to know who to hold accountable when a problem arises; they want to know where to turn when all else has failed them. Young people interested in the political climate and everyday issues happening around them need a platform to express their views. They also want to feel good about the city they call home and celebrate the accomplishments they see taking place around them.

OaklandSeen, a new weekly radio show and blog launches Tues., November 3, 11:00 a.m., on KPFA 94.1FM, to address their concerns and fuel their participation in local city government. The show airs each week in the same time slot. Aimee Allison is the creator and host of OaklandSeen. Presently, Allison is the host and producer of the popular KPFA Morning Show, heard each weekday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. OaklandSeen will feature the voices of everyday Oakland – and has a new OaklandSeen line that will record thoughts and ideas from across the city. The call in number is 510.848.6767 x 606.

Social media outlets Twitter and Facebook will play an active role in communicating with audiences who are increasingly relying upon viral media as a primary source of information. The online companions are www.twitter.com/oaklandseen , and www.facebook.com/pages/oaklandseen. OaklandSeen will get audience ideas and reactions before the show and post links, podcasts, video and photos after each show on OaklandSeen.com.

The first show will center on the one-year anniversary of the election of Barack Obama; the euphoria that surrounded his election and a current pulse on how “Oaklanders” feel about his presidency. Show host Allison will examine if campaign activism last year has inspired local involvement in citywide politics and visit a group of Oakland organizations preparing for the elections next year.

Subsequent shows include a number of lively and contemporary discussions such as:

  • The Hype vs. the Reality in Oakland – Oakland’s image problem abroad
  • Creative strategies by community activists to make city streets safer
  • How Oakland feels about BART Officer Mehserle’s change of venue order
  • The history of Uptown – and if we are in an Oakland renaissance
  • Social critic and author Ishmael Reed’s commentary on crime and safety
  • The state of Oakland’s public schools and community colleges
  • Michael D of the VIP List will highlight the cool stuff to do around the Bay Area

Additional show topics will cover the city budget, the public school system, deteriorating neighborhoods, BART, AC Transit, activities and events, good news and eyewitness accounts.

Listeners are invited to send future story ideas to: feedback@oaklandseen.com or by calling 510.848.6767 x 606.

Lemlem Rijio, KPFA’s general manager states, “We are thrilled about OaklandSeen that will respond to our listeners’ needs for local news and analysis. We’re committed to expanding our community coverage.”

About Aimee Allison: Aimee is the popular Bay Area radio host and producer of the daily KPFA Morning Show. Prior to joining KPFA, she hosted Comcast Newsmakers and In Good Company on CNN Headline News regional broadcasts. Her talk shows range from news to views — she taps into her experience as an Oakland city council candidate and local activist — to the local economy that enhances her understanding of larger national issues. Recently, Aimee hosted national live specials for Pacifica Radio, Link TV, and Clear Channel’s Green 960. She received a Project Censored award for her coverage of the historic Winter Soldier testimony. A frequent speaker, she most recently addressed an audience at the Chinese for Affirmative Action and Courage to Resist event. She has been profiled in many publications including: Yes Magazine, Alternet.org, The Nation, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her diverse experiences and multicultural background –from soldier to community activist to corporate manager– make her wide-ranging discussions engaging to an expansive variety of people. She is the co-author of Army of None and holds a BA and MA from Stanford University.

Q & A with Allison provides an illuminating overview of OaklandSeen

Q: What is OaklandSeen?

Allison: OaklandSeen uses a variety of media to engage Oaklanders in the citywide conversations about issues that matter. From the economy and crime to housing and education, OaklandSeen radio, TV, blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook connects top opinion-makers with the community to exchange ideas and solutions. OaklandSeen celebrates Oakland – from its award-winning authors and artists to its proud diverse history to the organizations working on the ground everyday. This platform is for people who “hella love” Oakland and want to get involved in making it better.

OaklandSeen.com will report on the people of Oakland, politics and Oakland’s unique culture in a new way. OaklandSeen is a weekly radio show and blog that will feature leading local analysts and opinion-makers that will bring to the community an active and public conversation about issues we care about: our “insider feature” will give the scoop on city hall and feature a calendar with political, community and entertainment events. We will profile exceptional people who have made Oakland their home – from writers to sports legends to artists. OaklandSeen will connect listeners and bloggers with the people who are making decisions that affect our lives in Oakland.

Q. You are no stranger to Oakland politics having sought a city council seat in 2006; what can we expect from you on OaklandSeen?

Allison: Expect a unique blend of politics for the rest of us, with a healthy dose of Oakland pride. My campaign (for city council) was a crash course in Oakland politics. The most important lesson I learned is that most people feel underserved, unconnected and ignored by city hall. Clearly, many passionate, smart people in this city have solutions to offer. Oakland is a unique place that blends working class and cosmopolitan sensibilities. OaklandSeen will give people what they are clamoring for: a place to come together across neighborhoods, age and race to make the city better. In OaklandSeen, we break down the barriers to bring more into the conversation. Radio is unique because we can reach thousands and open the phones to hear directly from people in the city. We’ll feature live broadcasts from cafes and public spaces across the city, conduct street team outreach and in-depth conversations with city and organizational leaders, artists and educators and activists who are making a difference. We will also tell “only-in-Oakland” stories that will make you think, make you proud, and make OaklandSeen.

Q. Who is the target audience for this new show?

Allison: OaklandSeen is for people who love Oakland – the people, the culture, and want to connect with others to celebrate and make the city better. That includes parents, business owners, activists and hipsters. Oakland attracts people who are open to change and often have a “DIY” approach to community activism; with OaklandSeen, there will now be a place where the community, culture, and government can meet. Also, the show is equally aimed at people who get their news and views from the radio, the internet, the coffee or barber shop, and social networks.

Q. What will be your approach to galvanize young audiences and get them to play a role in local government?

Allison: First, our goal is to reach people where they are. OaklandSeen will regularly broadcast live from cafes in neighborhoods across the city – to meet with and feature the people and issues from the neighborhoods. We will take advantage of how younger people get their news and opinion via important nuggets that are filtered through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Outlets that give people a ‘heads up’ to breaking news and event announcements. We are organizing street teams to gather opinion and reports as they formulate.

Q. What issues will be priorities for discussion on OaklandSeen?

Allison: We have to tackle the most important issues in Oakland: crime and safety, education, the local economy and housing– even parking meters and public transportation. We are also interested in the impact of foreclosures and high-end restaurants opening. We will tackle it by bringing in Oakland officials and community leaders and opening up the phones to callers; we will tell stories that help to make policy issues real for people.

Q. What are the hottest topics on the Oakland political scene today?

Allison: It’s the budget – and how the city’s shrinking pot of money is being allocated; crime and safety – there just hasn’t been a solid approach to dealing with that. Everyone’s heard about the parking meter controversy by now, but are we going to get better public transportation? Does it make sense for millions of dollars to go to a BART connector with an impending AC Transit cut? How about the state of schools; that people are being foreclosed on and changing entire neighborhoods? Everyone has heard about issues of local businesses and taxation. But, you might not know that more than 40 people gathered recently to hear about water policy – and how statewide and regional planning impacts Oakland. Nonetheless, there is still incredible good news happening in this city and is being communicated via town hall meetings, community gatherings, via great ideas, and organizations that are proposing a slew of creative strategies.

Q. Why now?

Allison: There is a “hyperlocal” journalism movement across America, and heightened interest in Oakland – from the New York Times coverage to community blogs. Citizen journalists and professionals are coming forward to fill the gap left by media consolidation and cutbacks on coverage. KPFA is in a perfect position to have an immediate impact on the scene since nearly a third of our listeners are in Oakland and the east bay. Moreover, Oakland is approaching a banner election year – the mayor and city council races, BART board and other positions that will be hotly contested. Oakland is ready for leadership, creativity, and to move to the next level.

Q. What can listeners do on Day One (1) of OaklandSeen?

Allison: Beginning November 3, listen on Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m. to KPFA, 94.1FM. Follow our Twitter feed and become a Facebook fan. Send an email to feedback@oaklandseen.com for story ideas. We are especially interested in community organizations, non-profits, people who have a story to tell, or the history of Oakland. They can call the show, follow what we will be doing and join the conversation. The phone number is 510.848.6767 x 606 to leave a message on the OaklandSeen line.

Q. How can people communicate with OaklandSeen?

Call 510.848.6767 x 606 or visit www.OaklandSeen.com, www.twitter.com/oaklandseen, www.facebook.com/pages/oaklandseen

Media Contact: Sandra Varner, VarnerPR Agency
510-569-8855, varnerpr@sbcglobal.net

Ayanna Anderson, VarnerPR Agency
510-415-5873, ayanna.ns.anderson@gmail.com

12 thoughts on “The deconstruction of KPFA: Apartheid radio and tokenism

  1. JR is a Cry Baby

    Lets be real. This is about JR being mad jealous. And he should be cause I heard his stories on the radio and they’re awful. All he says is “yeah, uh uh, I agree with that.” There should be a black show on KPFA, but if it is with JR I won’t listen cause I ain’t got time for his continue jealous attacks. A real hater he is. A true Cry Baby.

    Reply
  2. Ann Garrison

    My first reaction to this was, “Wait a minute. Aimee Allison already has a forum, two hours of prime drive time every day.” With so many voices clamoring to be heard on community radio, how is this justifiable?”

    However, it just occurred to me that since this show seems to be scheduled for a slot that used to belong to Music of the World, it means at least that the station is making room for more public affairs programming where there’s been too much music for way too long.

    I listened to Music of the World for years, but the college stations do as well or better than KPFA at music, and, for all its endless problems, KPFA still does public affairs best.

    Ten hours should be freed up by the Music of the World slot, so I hope we’ll hear more public affairs, hopefully including a Black American public affairs program.

    Re local programming, great idea, but, only if it’s always connecting the dots between local and global as well.

    Reply
  3. Eric Brooks

    While I agree with JR’s critique of KPFA, his tossing off Aimee Allison as a ‘smiling token’ is way over the top.

    Aimee has helped lead the Bay Area movement to eject military recruiters from our public schools and is by no stretch of the imagination some token lightweight.

    JR, you will be more effective in changing KPFA by directing your ire at the correct target; the KPFA administration itself.

    Reply
  4. Gary Skupa

    Allison says “nearly a third of our listeners are in Oakland and the east bay” to justify a need for OaklandSeen (and ostensibly to justify the bump of Music of the World from that time slot). However, when you parse that phrase, you see that two-thirds of our listeners are not in that audience group at all, and that the East Bay includes a hell of a lot more than Oakland: hence, a demographic that was overstated.

    Ann Garrison says: “My first reaction to this was, “Wait a minute. Aimee Allison already has a forum, two hours of prime drive time every day.” With so many voices clamoring to be heard on community radio, how is this justifiable?”
    However, it just occurred to me that since this show seems to be scheduled for a slot that used to belong to Music of the World, it means at least that the station is making room for more public affairs programming where there’s been too much music for way too long.” In other words, it’s OK for Aimee Allison to be over-represented on KPFA if she is managing to rip off some schedule time from Music of the World.

    Garrison continues: “I listened to Music of the World for years, but the college stations do as well or better than KPFA at music.” Sounds like she spent more time listening to music on KPFA, KALX, KUSF, whatever, than she did public affairs. Why did she waste that much time with Music of the World (for years) if it wasn’t that good.

    More Garrison: “…and, for all its endless problems, KPFA still does public affairs best.” Wow, I don’t remember any endless problems with music programming but public affairs, now that subject flashes me back to the days of Save KPFA and Take Back KPFA.

    Between 6am and 8pm weekdays (a 14 hour stretch), the only music programming was Music of the World. It was inspirational and a welcome relief from all the polemics it was surrounded by. Peace and understanding through the most effective common human language. One discovers so much about so many other cultures, many of whom have ethnic enclaves in Oakland even!

    Life is much more than politics and politics is much more than talk. As Fela said: “Music is the weapon.”

    I recently rejoined KPFA thinking that things might be getting more coherent, but primarily because of Music of the World. Had I known that this travesty was going to take place, I would not have bothered. Is it too late to get my money back?

    Reply
  5. maggie kaigler

    On Consciousness, Comfort, Cutbacks to Music of the World …and KPFA

    by Maggie Kaigler

    Lemlem Rijio, General Manager-KPFA, is comfortable with Aimee Allison-Morning Show Host, with former Interim Program Director Sasha Lilley, and with News Co- Editor Aileen Alfandary. After all they have certain things in common: a general lack of broadcast management and professional broadcasting experience. Other than KPFA, none have been on the air in any broadcast market anywhere, nor have they any previous experience in the effective administration of any professional organization or business group other than KPFA.

    Lemlem like the others, relies heavily on KPFA ‘promotion from within’ policies. Pacifica and KPFA recognize the value of its staff and loyal staff deserve promotion. However, the present management group is not by any definition, loyal, not to KPFA. They take advantage of KPFA policy to hire friends (Like the lawyer in Human Resources who can only be so effective, after all how can he correct the college chum and general manager who referred and hired him?). This management group does not hire or promote based on merit, rather they use their power to insure their own position and reinforce their personal goals of self promotion. Void of ethics and lacking genuine authority, they are loyal to those who serve their god of self interest. They eliminate a real Program Council that would assist future staff in developing and maintaining a strong forum for discussion and new solutions. Never mind the legacy of a true democratic experience in America, community radio. They lack the moral fiber, creative talent, wisdom, leadership skills and the depth it takes to run a multi million dollar broadcasting enterprise, particularly KPFA, an experiment of morality in community interaction, which comes with a code of ethics and empowerment meant to bring relief to the poor, the suffering and the disenfranchised masses, not to punish and look down on them. This management group is an insult to KPFA and its’ mission statement. The good thing however, about broadcasting is that radio, like the camera, eventually will reveal what you really think and who you really are. This confused, complacent little clique of self important insiders and phony, petty, small minded managers reveal just how much of a miracle Lewis Hills’ genius is. Not was. Aileen’s much touted 30 years at KPFA is one years’ experience repeated 30 times over, she has shown herself to be a no holds barred racist, confused, power hungry, insecure, unyielding and mean spirited.

    KPFA unlike its self satisfied managers is not in a comfortable space. It is threatened by the ineptness of its handlers, in news and programming. These managers can not support a vision they fail to see. KPFA deserves better, as does “Music of the World”, like the “Womens’ Magazine”, both shows have felt the sting of confused management and programming decisions. It is time for a change.

    Maggie
    KPFA News Department Volunteer Reporter (2005-08)

    Reply
  6. Jon Jackson

    I could take this commentary a lot more seriously were Minister of Misinformation “JR” giving his or her real name. It’s a lot easier to throw bottles or bricks with a mask or a pseudonym.

    Her statement that KPFA is “pushing a racist agenda” is frankly ludicrous.

    Reply
  7. Chris Weidenbach

    Saying that “The Morning Show” and “Democracy Now” are shows for non-Black people is completely wrong-headed.

    Saying KPFA has no shows for the Black community is ludicrous, and extremely disrespectful to the crucial “Hard Knocks Radio” show, which is to me and many friends essential listening, and revolutionary.

    Hurling stupid phrases like “apartheid radio” will rightfully earn a commentator the much smaller audience he deserves.

    Reply
  8. Rafael

    I’m glad OaklandSeen got canceled, I think it lasted like two months or something like that. It just goes to show the JR was right, read these comments here defending Aimee they are from equally light weight phony liberals who don’t know squat about what people want to listen to but are perfectly happy that their preferences are met.

    Aimee is a snob really, she has a particular agenda she covers and ignores anything outside of that no matter what her listeners want of her and her show. The people you read here that defend her share this mindset of me, me me – you see their clique a mile away. When they attack someone that attacks their clique, they take your rejection of their clique personally and attack personally to that. What a clique mindset.

    Aimee is quite exemplary of Standford where she comes from education wise centrist with a progressive exterior, well to do, and right wing if you go beneath the surface. Aimee and KPFA in general represents the dead weight of the political left, all talk no action, wanting to pose for certain things and then just slide on the delivery. Like the people who wrote here to support her, when these egotists get out of the way then a real people’s radio station can take it’s place. As usual though, these self-absorbed people are focused on their agenda and won’t get out of the way to let that happen. If you really need evidence of how narcissistic KPFA is listen to their pledge pitches when they Fund Drive, they practically tell you how worthy they are of your money then expect you to pick up the phone to hand it over on their beck and call – it’s enough to turn off even a casual listener. I hate when people call in and donate, because it feeds in to that narcissism. I can’t wait for the day that no one calls in repeatedly after their arrogant sounding declarations of how worthy they are of people supporting them, and the sound in their voice when finally confronted with “Oh maybe we aren’t as great and needed as we think we are.”

    The one thing that is the real deal breaker is how they are mostly supported by other people’s donations, probably a lot of struggling working class people, and how they run as a snobby insider club of hippie types or ivory tower academics that feel it’s their own tree house to do with as they please.

    Reply
  9. Rafael

    To Chris’ assertion that Hardknock radio should be “good enough” for the African community wanting dedicated programming, you are making JR’s point about the elitist European American liberal attitude the other people dismissed as not being apartheid radio. It goes to show that dismissal and resentment of African people among Europeans goes beyond stated political classifications.

    Reply
  10. @newsgirl123456

    Time proves who is true and who is not. Insider clique, self serving weak managers, slowly their self serving motives are/ were and continue to be revealed and they are let go.

    More CL/SK (for themselves) will be forced to seek another body of work to siphon life from. More hypocrites exposed and then forced out as fresh leadership and new blood w/actual consciousness moves in.

    ICR and Voices of Justice bring gifts of new leadership. Leaders like Anthony Fest, Richard Phelps, Steve English, Tracey Rosenberg, J. R. and many, many others who see Lewis Hills' vision, the miracle of a poet/ pacifist martyr, support the KPFA Vision by donating time, money and considerable brain power. They live the courage of their convictions and with their support , slowly we move the KPFA CL/Save KPFA (for themselves) party out and move KPFA for the community forward…

    Time reveals true motives. Meanwhile, KPFA-the listener supported community oriented station of empowerment for the poor and the radical, liberal progressive agenda, FINDS ITS VOICE ONCE AGAIN.

    Maggie Kaigler-Armstead

    Reply

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