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What’s up with KPFA?

September 3, 2010

by Tracy Rosenberg

Subscribers to KPFA know that election season has begun, with ballots and postcards arriving on their doorsteps. What should members do?

There’s a really short answer. Don’t vote for the Save KPFA – Concerned Listeners – candidates. Any of them. No matter what.

Save KPFA, whose real name is Concerned Listeners, has run KPFA into the ground. They dominated the board for two years in 2008-2009, passed budgets calling for staff layoffs due to declining contributions, and then sat on their hands like a bunch of sheep for 15 months while the reductions didn’t happen.

The station blew through a million dollars in less than a year and a half. A million dollars in listener donations. All the cash in the bank.

It’s a disaster.

These are the same people who blocked an investigation into the beating of Nadra Foster, a volunteer for over 10 years, on bogus charges of trespassing.

The same people running a slate that is 70 percent white, 70 percent male and 80 percent over the age of 70 are accusing their far more diverse opponents of favoring “ethnic cleansing” at KPFA.

They are advocates for irresponsibility, lying to the voters and dereliction of duty. That is their track record on KPFA’s board.

There is an alternative. Independents for Community Radio has assembled a great, diverse team of organizers, academics, labor activists and radio professionals to get a grip on things and revitalize KPFA. More at http://www.voteindyradio.org.

Vote Indyradio!

We stand for opening the place up to more and more radical voices, practicing diversity and not just talking about it, financial sustainability and respect for volunteer workers, and a Program Council that makes collaborative decisions about what’s on the air.

Here are the listener candidates affiliated with Independents for Community Radio (ICR) in alphabetical order:

Stephen Astourian Ph.D., UC-Berkeley Department of History, Chair of the Armenian Studies Department

Naeem Deskins, Western Regional Vice President of the Association for the Study of Classical Civilizations, small-business owner, activist for the African diaspora, dear friend of Africa Today host Walter Turner

Georgia Frazier, former National Sales Manager at KJAZ Radio, former Vice President of American Women in Radio and Television, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley

Monadel Herzallah, Founder and President of the Arab-American Union Members Council, Coordinating Committee for the US-Palestinian Community Network, Lead Organizer for Justice for Janitors

Cynthia Johnson, Chair of the Berkeley Federation of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee

Hyun-Mi Kim, Immigrant rights and feminist organizer

Janet Kobren, Freedom Flotilla survivor

Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director of Media Alliance, Member of the Pacifica Foundation Board of Directors, Media and Democracy Coalition Board of Directors and Alliance for Community Media Western Regional Board of Directors

Gina Szeto, Director of the Worker Rights Clinic, Boalt School of Law, Executive Editor of the Asian-American Law Journal

Kate Tanaka, Alameda Green Party, Lead Organizer of the Oak-to-Ninth Campaign

These are the ICR-affiliated candidates to represent the KPFA staff:

Shahram Aghamir, Producer of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, Member of the Pacifica Foundation National Board

Gabrielle Wilson, Co-Host of The Gospel Experience

Tracy Rosenberg can be reached at tracy@media-alliance.org.

Power grab try by phony SaveKPFA faction

by Jeff Blankfort

I have just seen a copy of a slick, expensive mailing piece put out by a group that calls itself SaveKPFA. This represents nothing more than a duplicitous attempt at grabbing power by a number of people who were conspicuously absent from the struggle to actually save KPFA and Pacifica from a COINTEL-type attack in the mid-‘90s initiated by then Pacifica Executive Director Pat Scott, who had formerly been a close political ally of at least half of those claiming to represent SaveKPFA.

I use the terms “duplicitous” and “claiming” for one very good reason. In 1993, I was one of two co-founders of the original and genuine SaveKPFA. It was intended to combat what was clearly a drive toward NPRization of the network, which included applying for six figure grants from several of the major foundations, none of which, happily, did it receive.

SaveKPFA enlarged, opened a DBA bank account and held a number of meetings at Ashkenaz. And in 1995, following the purge of close to a 100 radical programmers, it morphed into Take Back KPFA, of which I, again, was one of its founders. As a part of that purge and to “professionalize” the on-air sound, the present state Attorney General Jerry Brown was given five one-hour programs per week, replacing five of those purged, including the late Mama O’Shea. He used his show as a launching pad to run for mayor of Oakland.

During all this time, not only did not a single one of this phony SaveKPFA slate step forward to criticize KPFA and Pacifica management but, sadly, ALL those members of the KPFA staff who are now endorsing the SaveKPFA slate actively collaborated with Pat Scott and then manager Marci Lockwood. And even when Mary Francis Berry boarded up the station in 1999, their resistance was at best tepid. Their names are all too familiar to KPFA listeners even if their contemptible behavior, unfortunately, is not.

In short, this phony SaveKPFA slate represents a group of political dinosaurs who have been trying to take over KPFA for years, having failed in every other effort they have engaged in. It is time to remember the slogan of the Spanish civil war when it comes to the KPFA election: “No Pasaran!” (“They shall not pass!”).

Author and activist Jeff Blankfort can be reached at jblankfort@earthlink.net.

4 thoughts on “What’s up with KPFA?

  1. Emiliano Echeverria

    kudos to both Tracy & Jeff for putting the history in such a good perspectivr. Yes we gotta "get out da brooms" & do some genuine housecleaning once & for all .

    The station has been looked upon as a cash cow for too many for too long.
    Clean them & obsolete models out!

    I have a plan that will work that no one wants to admit would work but no one has tried so why not????

    Re-convert Pacifica from its marginal status as a non-functioning "network" and become, once again a GROUP of the Best community stations in the nation (after all, we once wrote the book on the subject.)

    Also strip the station of paid programmers. This model, introduced in 1970 to, are you ready for this — attract more listeners.

    The result has not been enough to sustain all those paid programmers.

    In addition, it created a climate of entitlement for many in the station that being paid as a programmer is the goal.

    The climate has thus created a two-tiered system of "the anointed few" and those wanting to be "paid staff" programmers. And some of these "anointed" ones are real snotty twerps.

    But all the paid spots are hand picked by closed cabals.

    The assumption that this institution had the bucks and organizational structure to sustain these programmers, which it did not and does not have, has been a cruel joke on the foundation and the listening community.

    Paid programmers have been a poor solution to a long term problem: good radio at a grass-roots, community level. Can be done and has been done in many places with the bloated model that pacifica carries like a monkey around its neck. When I arrived at KPFA in 1968 the average tenure of a paid staff member was a little over 5 years. we had NO paid programmers, as such, and our relationship with the community was excellent compared to now.

    And we had a focus, not the dissaped sound of today.

    KPFA was never set up to be a bunch of folks lifelong careers. It has suffered in the process.

    VOTE ICR!

    Emiliano Echeverria
    at KPFA since April 1968.
    longer than most of those other people who think they are the heart & soul of the place……
    frauds!

    Reply
  2. emiliano Echeverria

    Paid programmers have been a poor solution to a long term problem: good radio at a grass-roots, community level. Can be done and has been done in many places with the bloated model that pacifica carries like a monkey around its neck. When I arrived at KPFA in 1968 the average tenure of a paid staff member was a little over 5 years. we had NO paid programmers, as such, and our relationship with the community was excellent compared to now.

    SHOULD READ:

    Paid programmers have been a poor solution to a long term problem: good radio at a grass-roots, community level. Can be done and has been done in many places WITHOUT the bloated model that Pacifica carries like a monkey around its neck. When I arrived at KPFA in 1968 the average tenure of a paid staff member was a little over 5 years. we had NO paid programmers, as such, and our relationship with the community was excellent compared to now.

    Thanks,

    Emiliano

    Reply
    1. Chris Stehlik

      Emilliano,

      This issue of paid programmers seems to be coming up at each election period.
      Do you think that KPFA should get rid of all paid programmers ?
      Do Tracy Rosenberg and ICR support getting rid of all paid programmers? (which would include many daytime programmers, including the News and Flashpoints)

      Reply

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