The deconstruction of KPFA: Apartheid radio and tokenism

by Minister of Information JR

Aimee-Allison-Aaron-Glantz-Jon-Almeleh-broadcast-Winter-Soldier-2008-031408, The deconstruction of KPFA: Apartheid radio and tokenism, Local News & Views 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 and visit

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 , and OaklandSeen will get audience ideas and reactions before the show and post links, podcasts, video and photos after each show on

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: 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,, 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. 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 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,,

Media Contact: Sandra Varner, VarnerPR Agency

Ayanna Anderson, VarnerPR Agency