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Save KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio, Flashpoints and Full Circle

November 3, 2010

Join the Rally to Save Hard Knock, Flashpoints and Full Circle on Thursday, Nov. 11, 4:30 p.m., in front of KPFA and the Pacifica network, 1925-1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley

by Minister of Information JR

“You couldn’t ask me to talk to Nadra?” Hard Knock Radio’s Anita Johnson calls out to KPFA and Pacifica managers who had called police to remove Nadra Foster from the station. Without provocation, several officers severely beat and permanently disabled Nadra and carried her out in a straightjacket. The managers had made no effort to talk to Nadra first or to seek someone like Anita to mediate their grievances against Nadra: that she had used a KPFA copier to copy some math worksheets for her well-behaved children and had made a brief call from a KPFA phone for a ride home. Nadra is a graduate of the KPFA apprenticeship program and had volunteered at the station for a dozen years. – Video frame: Labor Video Project
Recent emails are talking about how Hard Knock Radio and Flashpoints, both primetime radio shows on KPFA, and the apprenticeship showcase Full Circle may be on chopping block. Giving credence to these attacks, Weyland Southon, the executive producer of Hard Knock Radio, just accepted a severance package and the station has begun to download Michael Eric Dyson radio shows, with the plan being to appease Hard Knock listeners with a soothing politically safe, academia-approved national Black voice.

Let’s start with the history and contributions of Hard Knock Radio. The first prime time Hip Hop show on KPFA airwaves was born out of the 1999 struggle to save KPFA from being corporatized. This show was an olive branch to the listening community from the KPFA administration, opening the door for communication at the nation’s first listener supported radio station between the station and its supporters.

One of the major goals of Hard Knock Radio, which received the 4 p.m. weekday prime-time slot that the show called We the People, hosted by newly re-elected California Gov. Jerry Brown, previously occupied, was to bring new listeners, particularly younger people and people from the dispersed Black, Brown, Red and Yellow communities around Northern and Central California to KPFA.

To successfully accomplish this mission, Hard Knock has broadcast live from places that KPFA had never even thought of going before. Hard Knock broadcast a townhall meeting from Hunters Point in 2004, when an unarmed young Black man was beat unconscious in front of the community.

Hard Knock broadcast the 40th anniversary of the Black Panther Party in 2006, live from Oakland’s Malonga Center, where the historic event was being held. Hard Knock broadcasts regularly from the Free Press national media conferences, where left-wing media makers from around the country convene to discuss important issues surrounding media, like net neutrality and emerging media.

In happier times, the “Free the San Francisco 8” rappers and longtime KPFA volunteer Nadra Foster stop to have their picture taken outside KPFA on Sept. 7, 2007. They had been featured on a show discussing the power of Hip Hop in organizing support for political prisoners. It is topics like this that draw young people and people of color to KPFA. Continuing such coverage will make them loyal, lifelong listeners and financial supporters. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
Hard Knock has also contributed to developing new and innovative young leadership in the nation by choosing different voices than have traditionally been aired on KPFA to discuss their views. The first time I ever heard the young Latino educator and Oakland based activist Cesar Cruz talk about immigration issues was on Hard Knock. I was made aware of the legacy of Yuri Kochiyama through Hard Knock Radio. It was Hard Knock that aired interviews I did from El Salvador at a meeting to stop the privatization of water in that Central American country.

Hard Knock Radio regularly checks in with movers and shakers like Mumia Abu Jamal, JR Fleming from Chicago, Pam Africa, Cynthia McKinney, Dave Zirin, Paul Mooney, Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., M1 of dead prez, the San Francisco 8, Karima Al-Amin, the wife of Imam Jamil Al-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown), and Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), just to name a few.

Broadcaster Anita Johnson has made it her personal mission to educate the Hard Knock listeners about the AIDS epidemic. I have produced many shows on Hard Knock dealing with imprisonment in the United States, including interviews with former female political prisoners Ida Robinson, who talked about conditions of women prisoners, and Dylcia Pagan, who discussed Puerto Rican independence.

Broadcaster Davey D has brought a number of cultural and political voices to the airwaves, including Chuck D of Public Enemy, Paris, Askari X, Brotha J and Paradise of XClan, Boots of the Street Sweeper Social Club and Immortal Technique. Weyland has made sure over the years that Hard Knock stayed involved in the anti-war movement by broadcasting live the Power to the Peaceful festival, which thousands attend every year in San Francisco.

Beyond giving voice to issues and guests seldom heard elsewhere, Hard Knock has given young programmers a chance to hone their skills and be a part of an award-winning young radio team that is community oriented. The first time the Block Report aired on KPFA was on Hard Knock Radio in 2003. Tseday, Favianna, Mike Biggz and Nishat all made their KPFA debut on Hard Knock Radio.

Hard Knock Radio is also the only show that airs a segment for political prisoners and prisoners in general on a regular basis. It is hard to imagine that topic would get so little attention when you consider that California is the state with the most prisons in the nation.

Nicole Sawaya, then executive director of the Pacifica radio network, founded at KPFA, raises her hand to stop the filming of the police beating of longtime programmer Nadra Foster by Hard Knock Radio’s Weyland Southon. This is a frame from that video, which is posted at the end of this story.
In Aug. 21, 2008, I broke a story on Flashpoints with Anita and Weyland of Hard Knock describing the Berkeley police beating, hog-tying and imprisonment under false pretenses of former KPFA broadcaster Nadra Foster inside a KPFA studio. Would Michael Eric Dyson be accessible or willing to air stories like these that – quiet as it’s kept – have pushed out all of the KPFA and Pacifica management who were directly responsible for the call to the police and the coverup that followed, except for former interim program director and Against the Grain producer Sasha Lilley.

Eleven years after the fight to save KPFA saw 10,000 marching in the street, KPFA is again threatened by corporate raider types who want to get rid of the monstrously popular Hip Hop public affairs show, Hard Knock Radio, the international investigative magazine, Flashpoints, and the innovative showcase for KPFA apprentices, Full Circle.

We must protect Hard Knock Radio, Flashpoints and Full Circle because in essence we are protecting our right to an accessible community radio station, where we can learn, teach and participate in local struggles for community power. If the prime time hours that Hard Knock and Flashpoints occupy are given to Michael Eric Dyson, KPFA listeners can kiss local and radical programming goodbye.

We must protect Hard Knock Radio, Flashpoints and Full Circle because in essence we are protecting our right to an accessible community radio station, where we can learn, teach and participate in local struggles for community power.

Look for Parts 2 and 3 of this series, where I will discuss Flashpoints and Full Circle. And join the Rally to Save Hard Knock, Flashpoints and Full Circle on Thursday, Nov. 11, 4:30 p.m., in front of KPFA and the Pacifica network, 1925-1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley.

Meanwhile, feel free to contact the current decision-makers: Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Englehardt, arlene@pacifica.org, (510) 849-2590, ext. 208; KPFA Interim General Manager Ahmad Anderson, ahmad@pacifica.org, (510) 849-2590, ext. 204; and Interim Assistant GM Amelia Gonzales, iagm@kpfa.org, (510) 848-6767, ext. 255 or 209.

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

From laborvideo on YouTube: On 8/20/2008, KPFA-Pacifica management, supported by “Concerned Listeners,” called the police to remove community programmer Nadra Foster from the station. They told the police she was trespassing on private property, and she was beaten and arrested. They were also supported in this action by the Pacifica Executive Director Nicole Sawaya. In fact, Sawaya also sought to physically block KPFA Hard Knock Radio staff member Weyland Southon from videotaping this police action, and you can see her in the video seeking to knock the camera so the incident could not be videotaped.

Sawaya was supported by pro-management staffer Kris Welch, who was standing by the door, and Interim Program Director Sasha Lilley, who walked by while the police were carrying out their attack and later supported a statement by station management and management supporters defending their actions.

Further videos on this issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REbDCc… and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vii7Zi….

Produced by Labor Video Project, P.O. Box 720027, San Francisco, CA 94172, (415) 282-1908, www.laborvideo.org.

9 thoughts on “Save KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio, Flashpoints and Full Circle

  1. reva

    Davey D, your coverage during the most recent Oscar Grant protest was excellent. You had the presence of mind to apply a profound analysis if a very volatile situation, keeping a cool head while expressing clear thoughts. We need you out there, we need you in the studio – you are truly a blessing to KPFA and to your community. Thank you!
    Reva Kidd
    (formally of El Cerrito, now El Sobrante ;) )

    Reply
  2. bayareapatriot

    where is the rest? you could have went outside to show the supposed straight jacket. Looks like another lunatic that could not control themselves.
    Also, show me where it says anywhere people have "access" to a community radio station. We should not even be giving any tax money to a station that shows mainly one point of view and does not represent the community as a whole.

    Reply
  3. Get Smart

    Again, isn't this old news about Nadra? Where is the relevancy? Also, we did talk to Ms. Foster who refused to leave. She was advised the police would be called if she did not vacate the station. If you can't get the truth out do you belong on the air?

    Reply
  4. sfbayview

    Hello, Get Smart. Who is the "we" you mention? Who are you? And why did you threaten to call the police and then call the police that day? What infraction did you allege Nadra had committed that prompted you to ask her to leave the station? Considering Nadra had been a regular volunteer at KPFA for a dozen years, several of those years hosting a show, why did you believe such an extreme measure needed to be taken to remove her? Why, as Anita Johnson can be heard saying on the video, did you not ask Anita or someone else to talk to Nadra or to mediate while you or the "we" you refer to talked with her?

    Where is the relevancy? Every day in the two plus years since Nadra was severely beaten by police inside the KPFA studio where she had been volunteering she has suffered from painful injuries, most notably her hand, which appears to be permanently disabled. Do you know what steps KPFA or the staff involved have taken to resolve the issue or to make Nadra whole? I don't and would appreciate your telling me and our readers, including Nadra Foster.

    - Mary Ratcliff, editor, SF Bay View

    Reply
  5. Adrienne Lauby

    The deep cuts at KPFA are heartbreaking.

    And, the call out to listeners for a new effort to "Save KPFA" is breaking my heart in yet another way. I was an unpaid activist from the North Bay after the 1999 lockout to Save KPFA/Save Pacifica. I spent 4-5 years of my life in that amazing & victorious struggle. Now, the words of our struggle are being used to shore up a worker/management clique at KPFA, to try to save the jobs of a few clique players.

    There is a ton of misinformation over what is, essentially, nothing but an internal turf war.

    I am a current unpaid staff member at KPFA who works on a disability-related public affairs program there. Many of us on the staff know these lay offs could have been done in a much kinder and easier-on-the-listeners way. The worker-manager group and the union should have worked with managers to make these cuts. They refused until in order to build to a crisis where they can take their case to the entire bay area. It is such a waste of grassroots energy.

    Have I said sad enough? It's a very sad moment.

    Reply
  6. Linda Brown

    Please let the listening public in on what is really going on!! All I know is that the morning show, and most of the programming on KPFA seems to have been dumbed down! Flashpoints,and Hard knocks, seem to be some of the few that have kept their edge. The morning show has gone the way of NPR I stopped giving money to KPFA when it seemed like all of the programming was given to woman's issues, as well as social issues that made sure that they never stepped on anyone's toes. This is not what Lou Hill had in mind, or is it what we had all come to expect from our KPFA!! I am a woman, and I want to hear about what we can not hear from the main stream media, and I want to step on some toes! Don't spend my time programming things I already know about, or can hear on NPR. Yes I understand that there are gender issues, but I don't want to hear about them everyday!!

    Reply
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