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We want to invite every friend of the SF Bay View newspaper to our 40th anniversary party. It’s a free event this Sunday, Feb. 21, 1-5 p.m., at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. Come one, come all and let’s celebrate 40 years of the most radical Black newspaper in the country. Enjoy a panel of Bay View writers, a fashion show and performances by the legendary Avotcja, Stoney Creation and Sista Iminah reminding us of the beauty and talent in our community.
The Block Report is in a rebuilding phase after being unjustifiably banned from the Pacifica airwaves under a plan engineered by former Pacifica lawyer and current Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel. One of the main campaigns we are working on right now is to expose Siegel’s pro-police history to the left leaning crew that supports him in his Oakland mayoral campaign.
Over the decades, KPFA has been known to cast out non-white broadcasters who don’t tow the white left line. Since his banning from KPFA, Minister of Information JR has been working on transforming the Block Report Radio show into the Block Report Internet Radio Station. We can’t wait to hear JR back on the radio – generating the energy that keeps good movements moving! Please contribute as generously as you can to radio that is Black-owned, operated and controlled – just what Malcolm X preached.
Tracy Rosenberg is the executive director of Media Alliance, an action and resource organization in Oakland advocating just, accountable and diverse media. She has been a listener representative on the KPFA Local Station Board since 2007 and a member of the Pacifica National Board of Directors since 2010. We asked her to comment on the situation from her perch as an insider. Here’s what we talked about.
On April 11, a large number of people affiliated with KPFA radio station convened at Laney College in Oakland to discuss a number of issues that have been plaguing the station for decades and are threatening to rip it apart with a race and class civil war. Unaddressed racial and class disparities at KPFA have caused a number of Black broadcasters to abandon ship.
For the second week in a row, one of the largest audiences for any show on KPFA was disappointed not to hear the People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey and his Block Report on the air Wednesday at 8 a.m. Instead we heard an announcement by interim general manager Andrew Phillips that JR has been suspended. Getting punished for doing “too well” happens to Black folks much too often. Sign the two petitions to end the suspension of JR Valrey from KPFA and attend the Town Hall Meeting, Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m. at Laney College. This story is constantly being updated with new signatures and comments.
The fiery writing of JR Valrey began appearing in the Bay View a dozen years ago. JR made our original vision for the Bay View reality: to inspire Black youth to build a powerful Black community. As the Bay View’s associate editor and one of KPFA’s most popular programmers with his provocative Block Report Radio shows, JR and the youth who grew up on his empowering words and pictures are growing in influence, making a difference every day – and they’re just getting started.
The lyrics to B.B. King’s classic “The Thrill is Gone” was the first thing that ran through my head when I showed up at both of the rallies that were held to “protest” the release from jail of Johannes Mehserle on Sunday, June 12. The speakers seemed to be a tad bit angry but not focused enough to do anything significant that would put police murders on the national radar. JUST ADDED: Minister of Information JR leads a full hour of debate on issues swirling around the murder of Oscar Grant by Johannes Mehserle broadcast on KPFA Wednesday morning.
I want us to do good radio. I want people to listen to us because we are doing dynamic programming. I want communities to feel that they can tune into the station and hear someone addressing the issues that are important to them.
We applaud broadcasters, artists and fans of KPFA who have come together to make sure that there is a station called KPFA in 2011. I want to be up front with why we have discussed protesting tomorrow night’s event. It is a principled stand against police terrorism in the Black community, cronyism to the Bush regime and the lack of Black public affairs programming on KPFA.
I was raised by several generations of labor organizers, and in every labor dispute my side is easily chosen. I don’t cross picket lines, and I always stand with the workers against their bosses. With the recent layoffs at KPFA, it’s terrible to see people losing their jobs, but this is not union busting by any stretch of the imagination.
We must protect Hard Knock Radio, Flashpoints and Full Circle from the KPFA chopping block 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.
The job of the media is to hold the powerful accountable. To avoid hypocrisy, the media itself must be held accountable as well. In the past few days, KPFA has broadcast at least twice a brief announcement recorded by the interim general manager scolding Bay View associate editor JR Valrey for a passing mention in one of his Block Reports of KPFA’s former interim program manager, Sasha Lilley. The Bay View respectfully questions its timing and refutes its contentions.
In this manifesto that shows why JR Valrey is rightly called the Minister of Information, he exposes "gentrification journalism" as "the public relations team that is put in place to make gentrifiers feel safe," the media's twisting of the murders of Chauncey Bailey and Oscar Grant to demonize Blacks and the hyper-funding of "hyper-local media" as an effort to drown out community media. Everyone who wants to stop the exodus of Blacks from the Bay must read this.
On Aug. 20, 2008, Nadra Foster was beaten mercilessly - her arm still paralyzed - by Berkeley police inside of “progressive” radio station KPFA where she had volunteered for over 10 years. Monday, March 22, THE CHARGES AGAINST NADRA WERE DROPPED! Now let's get the charges dropped against Holly Noll, the last of the Oakland 100, on her next court date, April 5. Cisco Torres of the San Francisco 8 too! All power to the people!
KPFA has been actively trying to restrain Flashpoints’ success for years now, but most of all during Rijio’s tenure as general manager. We take on the stories that make the establishment nervous, whether it’s police beatings and injustice inside the station – Nadra Foster – or outside the station. We report from the ground, whether it’s from Haiti or the West Bank or at the frontlines of the Native American struggle. Our Palestine coverage in particular has garnered intense scrutiny, to use a euphemism, from the pro-Zionist crowd.
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.
As the contretemps surrounding Dr. Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge Police Department recedes into the roiling news flood to become fodder for the late night comedians, we learn, if anything, that even a president has limits when it comes to a “teachable moment.” For, as any schoolteacher could have taught him, learning is a two-way street. When the student is closed to the lesson, ain’t nothing getting in. (And America ain’t trying to hear nothing about its racist present!)