Berkeley, Calif. – Nine years have passed since Pacifica radio station KPFA, the seminal community radio outlet founded by pacifist Lew Hill in 1949, last had the police inside its doors to arrest its workers. But on Aug. 20, 2008, the Berkeley police were again summoned to 1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way and asked to eject programmer Nadra Foster, who had been allegedly banned for a disagreement involving usage of a copier.
Sixty-nine [now 74] of the station’s workers, paid and unpaid alike, have joined together to condemn what they describe as a growing atmosphere of intimidation, including increased security measures, restrictions on airing discussion of internal issues, the return of banning individuals from the premises and the use of police force to address non-violent policy issues. Many of these staff have already signed a letter at www.physicszone.org/letter2008/letter.html outlining positive attributes for new leadership at KPFA.
Several prominent members of the progressive community the station serves have decried the use of force, including authors Michael Parenti and Norman Solomon, former San Francisco poet laureate devorah major, Jack Heyman of the ILWU, Mills College professor Julia Sudbury and advocacy groups Critical Resistance, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and Copwatch.
Project Censored Executive Director Peter Phillips commented: “KPFA should only use outside police in the station when a serious life-threatening circumstance is evident or major crime is in progress. A progressive self-managed system of mutual respect and communication must take priority over outside force.”
After Pacifica Radio surmounted a major crisis in the late 1990s that involved ousting a Board of Directors that planned to sell the stations, a subscriber-elected governance system was put into place, allowing listeners who pledge $25 annually to select the network’s directors. An attempt to replace the current interim manager, the station’s former development director, with a permanent hire was stymied last year and the hiring process is again underway.
Media Alliance Director Tracy Rosenberg, an elected local board member, commented, “It is way past time for KPFA and Pacifica as a whole to move away from discredited command and control tactics to manage its diverse workforce.”
The Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO), which from 1990 onwards organized the 160-plus unpaid programmers, was de-recognized in August 2007, leaving the majority of the station’s producers and hosts with no avenue for internal appeal of disciplinary actions and/or loss of status.
Programmer Foster, who suffered a severe sprain and bruises during her arrest, is still facing five misdemeanor charges in Alameda County, including trespassing, resisting arrest and battery on an officer. Her pre-trial hearing is scheduled to resume on Sept. 22. Fellow staffers are trying to arrange a fundraiser to assist her with legal expenses stemming from the Aug. 20 incident.
The Pacifica Radio network, one of the few national media outlets that feature news, information and culture with a decidedly progressive slant, is said to be facing significant financial challenges in what is clearly a difficult economic environment for journalism.
KPFA Statement of No Confidence
We, the undersigned paid and unpaid KPFA staff, do not have confidence in the management of KPFA’s Interim General Manager Lemlem Rijio. Rijio’s actions during the past two years have caused the alienation of a large number of staff members, have created turmoil within the station and have resulted in her losing credibility with many staff members. Her shift of KPFA’s culture away from one of collaboration and mutual support helped create the climate leading to the tragic and unnecessary police arrest of unpaid staff member Nadra Foster. KPFA and Pacifica management’s transformation of a workplace dispute, internally resolvable through collaborative means, into a major police action violates KPFA’s mission to promote peaceful ways to solve conflicts. Moving toward a more restrictive work environment will distance the station further from grassroots communities that Pacifica aims to serve.
We look forward to the appointment of a new general manager from the list of 11 candidates prepared by KPFA’s Local Station Board in order to bring comprehensive teamwork, support and peace to the station. We agree with the nearly 80 staff members who signed a recent “Open Letter on New KPFA Leadership Attributes and Priorities” that it’s time for fresh leadership.
1) Matthew Abaya, Filmmaker, Educator, API Specials
2) Shahram Aghamir, Producer, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa
3) Nick Alexander, KPFA Producer, Reporter
4) Naji Ali, Graduate First Voice Apprenticeship, Co-producer, Full Circle, Executive Producer and Host, Crossing the Line: Life in Occupied Palestine.
5) Rosie Austin, First Voice Group 33
6) Nora Barrows-Friedman, Senior Producer and Co-host, Flashpoints
7) Amanda Bellerby, Producer, Flashpoints
8) Donna Bellorado, First Voice Graduate 2007, pending Lead Segment Editor
9) Khalil Bendib, Producer and Co-host, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa
10) Mary Berg, Music Programmer, Host of A Musical Offering
11) Dennis Bernstein, Host, Senior Producer, Flashpoints
12) Bonnie Bone, Engineer, Early Morning Music Host and Producer
13) Allison Budner, First Voice Apprentice, Full Circle Producer
14) Erica Bridgeman, Engineer, Co-Producer, The Radio Chronicles
15) Greg Bridges, Host of Transitions on Traditions
16) Afrikahn Jahmal Dayvs, Producer and Host of BAJABA on JazzLine and substitute voice at KPFA
17) Darren J. de Leon, Producer and Co-Host, Radio 2050
18) Angela Fautt-DeCastro, First Voice Group 33
19) Lisa Dettmer, KPFA Producer, Women’s Magazine
20) Meg Dixit, News
21) Tara Dorabji, Co-Host, La Onda Bajita
22) Emiliano Echeverria, Producer, Radio Cuba Canta (sub for Con Sabor), at KPFA since ‘68
23) Doug Edwards, Programmer and Producer, Music of the World and Ear Thyme
24) Professor Samera Esmeir, Producer, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa
25) Bonnie Faulkner, Host and Producer of Guns and Butter
26) Anthony Fest, News Anchor
27) Rainjita Geesler, First Voice Co-Director, Co-Host, Apex Express
28) Victoria Gutierrez, Co-host, Radio Zapatista (La Onda Bajita)
29) Shawn Hamilton, News Reporter
30) Stephanie Hendricks, Former Producer, Pacifica Radio National Programming, Sunday Salon, Flashpoints, Visionary Activist Show
31) Francisco Herrera, Co-host and Producer, Flashpoints, La Onda Bajita
32) Yvette Hochberg, Producer, Women’s magazine
33) I~los, Roots Kommunikations Kru, API Specials Team
34) Ras Ivier, KPFA DJ and Producer, Reggae Express
35) Kevin Pena, Correspondent, Flashpoints
36) Anita Johnson, Senior Producer, Hard Knock Radio
37) Kayumanggi’ Kaloy, KPFA DJ, API Specials Lead Producer, Apprenticeship Grad ‘89
38) Wildecy de Fatima Jury, Apprentice, graduated from Quilombo Group
39) Rahul C. Lagura, KPFA API Specials, Smartmoves, East Oakland Boxing Association Athletic Director
40) Robert Knight, Correspondent, Flashpoints
41) Fabian Chavez Martinez, Live Music Engineer
42) M. Mayzes, Producer and Engineer
43) David McBurnie, Producer, Music of the World
44) Miguel Molina, Executive Producer, La Onda Bajita; Roving Producer, Flashpoints
45) Jill Montgomery, First Voice Apprentice, KPFA Board Operator
46) Tony Moses, KPFA Reggae Programmer since 1974
47) Daniel Nemser, Co-Host, Radio Zapatista collective of La Onda Bajita
48) Miguel Perez, La Onda and Vox-Populi Co-Host
49) Emmit A. Powell, DJ and Programmer, The Gospel Experience
50) Kate Rafael, Producer, Women’s Magazine
51) Malihe Razazan, Producer, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa
52) Alejandro Reyes, Radio Zapatista (La Onda Bajita) and Mexico correspondent, Flashpoints.
53) Rosi Reyes, Host, Ritmo de las Americas
54) Raynelle Rino, Scientist, Educator, API Specials Team
55) Art Sato, Host, Producer, In Your Ear
56) Jan Santos, Producer, Pushing Limits
57) Doyle Saylor, Host, Producer, Pushing Limits
58) Adália M. Selket, Brazilian Music Program Producer, First Voice Graduate
59) Pedro Reyes, Producer, Flashpoints
60) Preeti Shekar, Producer, Women’s Magazine
61) Ruthanne Shpiner, News Reporter, Host, Producer, Pushing Limits
62) Frank Sterling, First Voice Technical Fellow
63) Kirsten Thomas, Board Operator and Producer, Morning Show and Democracy Now! Apprentice Alumnus
64) Walter Turner, Producer and Host of Africa Today
65) JR Valrey, Minister of Information, Producer of POCC: Block Report Radio
66) Carla West, News, Apprenticeship Graduate
67) Gabrielle Wilson, Producer and Co-Host, The Gospel Experience
68) Ali Zadeh, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa
69) Dr. Zeina Zaatari, Producer, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa
70) Nina Serrano, Co-Producer, La Raza Chronicles, Monthly Host and Producer, Open Book
71) Adrienne Lauby, Producer and Host, Pushing Limits
72) Evelina Molina, Production Assistant and Correspondent, Flashpoints
73) Renee Saucedo, Flashpoints Correspondent, Attorney for La Rasa Centro Legal
74) Shuka Klanatari, Producer, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa.
This statement was first released Sept. 18 and again on Sept. 23 with 69 signers. The list of signers has been updated as of Oct. 5. To learn more and to get involved, contact the following members of the Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO): Malihe Razazan at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ruthanne Shpiner at email@example.com, Anthony Fest at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nick Alexander at email@example.com.