‘Racism turns the head of the white workers toward the black workers as being his enemy and he forgets that there is somebody up there in those corporation suites who has his foot on their heads . . . ‘ Angela Davis
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When ‘National’ tried to take over KPFA, the communities filled the streets to take back their station. ‘This is ours, this is something we paid for, we believe in, and that we intend to keep,’ paraphrase of Alice Walker. A balance of power with less power for National and more for the stations would be better. KPFK, for one, and its building, was built by people in L.A., not National. At-large PNB members is just a scheme to dis-power the local reps.
An excerpt that I’m speaking out against: “Also, as a guide to how we treat one another, the egalitarian principle is not to reward & punish given one’s endowment: just because some stations use Pacifica-owned buildings, not their buildings, isn’t justification for looking down on & disparaging WPFW & WBAI. It was a mere historical accident that at the beginning, Pacifica & KPFA constituted an identity, the one-and-the-same. A station’s financial performance may be criticised, but one must recognise that (1) some of its contracts may have been agreed, even negotiated, by the executive director &/or the National Board, & (2) the station manager (called in Pacificanese the general manager) isn’t appointed locally but by the executive director. Please don’t mistake the locus for the cause.” https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/category/authoritarianism/
Their strategy – no secret from anyone who reads their public statements – is simple and straightforward. (1) Shut down WBAI. (2) Change the bylaws so that WBAI can be sold. (3) Use the sale proceeds from WBAI
to refurbish KPFA. (4) Break up the network by “setting the stations free.” This has long been a cherished project of the faction that runs KPFA, so it is no surprise to learn that virtually all 9 principals (bosses? chiefs? czars?) of the “Pacifica Restructuring
Project” are … from KPFA.
What is the latest news on WBAI’s status?
Right now, the fate of WBAI hangs by a thread called a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order). As soon as WBAI was shut down on Monday morning, a quick-acting group of WBAI staff and listeners rushed into New York Supreme
Court to ask for a temporary restraining order reversing WBAI’s shutdown. They were successful and Judge Frank P. Nero issued the order that same day. His order stays and reverses the shutdown of WBAI, allows the staff back into the building, forces return
of the computers that the KPFA plotters took away, and re-establishes regular WBAI programming. However, the judge’s order ends October 18, when WBAI’s defenders – and the KPFA faction that wants to sell it — will face off in court.
” . . “. . . “faction want to achieve, the dissolving of Pacifica, the Acid Bath Strategy?
The new constitution creates a ‘100-day’ dictatorship:
appropriating all decision-making from the whole membership;
that is, eliminating member participation in any decision-making;
eliminating the very presence of opposition within Pacifica decision-making bodies;
eliminating expressions of opposition & alternative futures within public Pacifica decision-making forums;
eliminating the ‘public comment’ opportunity for members, staff, & listeners at Pacifica in-person meetings;
so, shutting down opportunities for dissent, protest, & exploring futures;
in a phrase, crushing opposition by a blanket removal of existing opportunities; &
the six at-large directors are insulated from any scrutiny whatsoever because all their meetings can be private, secret: so, they’re accountable to no-one, can avoid any public proceeding, & there’s no transparency, as they only have to issue legally required statements.
Pacifica is the last network of independent non-commercial radio stations operating in five of the largest media markets in the country. They are KPFK, Los Angeles, KPFA, Berkeley, WBAI, New York City, WPFW, Washington D.C. and KPFT, Houston, Texas. Many observers — and listeners — have written Pacifica off as a pathetic in-fighting mess as it has long been irrelevant in the larger media world. But the fact that this organization still owns and operates five very valuable radio licenses in major U.S. markets is worth taking a look at, especially from the financial aspect which is rarely exposed.
Since KPFK (and the other stations) are having another election for their Local Station Boards (LSB), what follows is information for anyone considering running, or voting, from a former KPFK LSB member. I will highlight some of the critical issues facing KPFK and Pacifica to consider.
This is also an update to KPFK and Pacifica: A Quiet Coup from October, 2015 which detailed problems with the finances then — the lack of several years of filing annual audits to the CA Attorney General, the lack of adequate bookkeeping, etc. I advocated voting for one faction of new and returning former LSB members (which I had then been aligned with) to replace the other faction. They were elected and have had a majority on the local and national boards for the last three+ years. During this time, however, the financial picture has only gotten worse. Pacifica’s factional infighting is somewhat notorious but is the problem only the factions or is it something else?
As to my qualifications for addressing these issues, I was on KPFK’s LSB from 2009 to 2015 when I was termed out. I was, at different times, Treasurer of KPFK, on the National Finance Committee, Director on the Pacifica National Board (PNB), on the Audit Committee, on a Financial Recovery Audit Task Force, and other committees. I have been involved in and focused on the finances of KPFK and Pacifica for many years and in many capacities. I have written many analyses of budgets and actual income/expenses, been a whistleblower and advocated for transparency and honesty.
The main job of KPFK’s LSB is to approve yearly budgets from management and make quarterly reports on the station’s finances and to make sure the station is on solid financial footing. Good budgets are based on historical data and formulas that are specific to non-commercial radio whose revenue comes largely from on air fund drives. Management has not availed itself of those tools for the last two budgets and produced overly optimistic budgets. Nevertheless, KPFK’s Finance Committee brought the budgets to the LSB, which were approved with little to no discussion. The estimated $500,000 end of year surplus for FY2018 wound up being a ($67,000) deficit. This is a notable “mistake” but to date has never been analyzed by the Finance Committee.
Thus, the FY2019 budget repeated the same errors as were in the FY2018 budget. There have been verbal reports from the Treasurer, such as revenue was “better than the budget and better than the previous year.” But they have never been supported by documentation or actual data and were, in fact, false conclusions. This sort of statement is typical and shows a lack of attention and/or expertise that is needed for the required oversight duties of the board.
Because of decreasing revenue from KPFK’s on air fund drives, there are now various forms of desperate acts to raise money, most of which are forms of underwriting that violate FCC and CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) rules. Underwriting is allowed and the FCC has specific rules that need to be followed but management is not complying with them. The Finance Committee has been made aware of these violations but have thus far not taken any action. Further, KPFK is misleading the public with programmers saying that KPFK takes no underwriting, it’s all “powered by the people,” etc. This is not true and has not been for about two years.
If there are discussions about the finances at KPFK going on, they are being made behind closed doors and not at either the Finance Committee or the LSB meetings.
This lawsuit of Empire State Realty Trust against Pacifica happened because of lack of oversight by the PNB.
In October 2017, a judge ruled against Pacifica and awarded ESRT [Empire State Realty Trust] a summary judgement of $1.8 million plus attorney’s fees. ESRT sued Pacifica in February 2016 to recover back rent and tower fees, interest and attorney costs. In the years-long dispute, Pacifica accused ESRT of price gouging and “holding the network hostage” with a contract that required WBAI to pay tower rent that increased about 9% per year. . — Inside Radio
Members and programmers from WBAI called ESRT “greedy capitalists” but Empire would not back down. In fairness to all of the involved parties, Pacifica voluntarily entered into the tower rental agreement with ESRT in 2005 with full awareness of all of its provisions for potential future rental increases.
On the PNB, there was dithering and inaction. Many secret and some public meetings were held, arguing between filing for voluntary bankruptcy or taking out a loan to pay off the judgment and the rest of the contract with Empire. The decision was to take out a loan. The argument against bankruptcy was that legal fees would be high — but the loan’s fees, legal fees and interest wound up being, by my calculations, about $900,000 or more, the same or arguably much more than bankruptcy would have been. Time will tell as to the real cost of taking out a loan.
Most elements of the reported 150 page loan agreement are still secret, with claims from the PNB there is a provision in the document that requires it being secret. Requests to provide that particular provision to the public have not been answered. While a press release about the loan is still on KPFK’s website, and easily found elsewhere on the internet, it is now forbidden to name the lender publicly.
This “Summary of the $3.7m Loan” was released to the public by the PNB. The figures offered in the Summary, however, are incorrect. It appears to be an early draft as the actual amount of the three year interest-only loan is $3.265 million and the adjustable interest for the first 18 months is $379,556. Pacifica could not get KPFK’s tower included as collateral because the US Forest Service, on whose land it sits, would not allow it. The tower was supposed to be used as collateral to borrow, and pay interest on, the first 18 months of interest payments.
Thus, two buildings adjacent to Berkeley sister station KPFA were sold to pay part of the ESRT settlement and the rest used for the first 18 months’ interest. One building housed the Pacifica National Office, with offices for the Executive Director, CFO and accounting staff. The other building had been vacant for a decade or so.
The CFO at the time resigned when the loan was signed, claiming the loan was in default because Pacifica could not provide any of the lender’s required financial documents, such as a current audit, profit and loss, etc. In a leaked document, Pacifica’s general counsel also weighed in on problems with the loan.
Pacifica must start paying the interest for the second 18 months starting October, 2019. It’s hard to see how Pacifica can come up with monthly payments of $21,000+, especially since KPFK is unlikely to be able to cover its own basic operating expenses going forward and will need help from the rest of the network, which has no help to give. There’s even less hope for paying off the $3.265 million balloon payment due March, 2021.
Those supporting the loan have made repeated claims that Pacifica can easily refinance for a better loan, that “a loan is not in default until a judge says it is,” and that the loan is secured by real estate only. This paragraph #4 from the Summary, however, shows this is false:
“[i]n addition [to the real property: buildings & land, three buildings housing radio stations KPFK, KPFA (Berkeley) and KPFT (Texas)], the Collateral includes accounts receivable, tangible goods, equipment, rental income, sales proceeds, contracts, intellectual property, furniture, cash and proceeds of insurance or sales — in short, virtually every real, tangible and intellectual property right in which Pacifica has an interest.”
This provision also includes the Pacifica Radio Archives. It’s much more than just real estate. Whatever the outcome of a potential default on the loan, lawyers will be involved — and Pacifica is required to pay legal fees for both sides.
It’s hard seeing a way to a refinance since Pacifica has not complied with requirements for the loan and has no way of paying the balloon payment in March, 2021 — unless they sell or swap one of the five licenses (which are under the jurisdiction of the FCC and cannot be used as collateral). The lender did not do its due diligence according to its own website. The mystery is: why did they lend to the obviously deadbeat Pacifica? The loan broker, Marc Hand, made at least $50,000 on the deal. Some speculate the loan has already been sold to a third party, see comment 3 of 3.
The idea of refinancing this loan they cannot pay back or pay the interest on, while adding more fees, interest, legal and brokers’ fees, seems like little more than a distraction to divert and delay the board from dealing with the realities of its insolvency and failing operations.
Some on the PNB imagined they could save money by outsourcing Pacifica’s accounting and not replacing the CFO. The new outsourced accountants have, as of this writing, produced nothing since their hire almost a year ago. Supposedly, an interim CFO was hired for three months in January but he produced nothing. The PNB just hired a new part-time interim CFO, an employee of the outsourced accountant firm. KPFK’s Finance Committee was told she was being paid “a small amount.” She was supposed to produce financial reports for the last two years by June but now it might be July.
Pacifica is also under investigation by the Department of Labor for violating ERISA laws, which has to do with pensions promised to employees of the five stations. This has been a problem for over two years and, as far as anyone in the public knows, is still unresolved and unpaid. Including penalties, this could amount to a large sum to be paid out.
Pacifica has been trying to catch up on its late audits since 2014 for which Pacifica has been under investigation by the CA Attorney General. The current auditor has been working to complete the FY2017 audit since last fall (originally estimated to take three weeks). It was due to the CA Registry of Charitable Trusts June, 2018. The auditor finally told the audit committee he’s only been able to get about 50% of the documentation he requested and suggested they stop searching for more. He will finish what he has but it will be “qualified” which is auditor-speak for: there are serious problems. In this case, he can only audit what he has and the rest is undocumented and unknown. The FY2018 audit, due June 2019, will miss this deadline and will also be “qualified” for the same reason. Two qualified audits that say your organization is too messed up to audit is not likely to persuade donors, foundation grantors or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to give funds to Pacifica. It’s unknown whether the CA Attorney General or the lender will accept them.
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)
There was some anticipation that Pacifica would get current on its audits by this June and would again be eligible for CPB grants. That is not to be as CPB’s deadline for qualification is June. When Pacifica last received those grants, in 2012, it received about $1 million a year. Pacifica needs to get current on its financial reporting and compliant with other CPB requirements in order to be eligible for the 2020 cycle in order to receive funds in 2021.
Why the secrecy and obfuscation? Why the complete lack of financial oversight and fiduciary responsibility? Is it only incompetence?
In my earlier article, I wrote about the KPFA Foundation, a shadow corporation formed for the purpose of taking over the assets of Pacifica. Before that, in 2009, there was another secret 501(c)(3) formed for the Pacifica Radio Archives, supposedly to raise money (which never happened) but rumored that “in case” something happened to Pacifica, i.e., bankruptcy, the Archives could be moved into this non-profit. It was created by former PNB Chair/Interim Executive Director Sherry Gendelman with Matthew Lasar as Secretary. Lasar, a Pacifica historian of sorts, has advocated for breaking up the Pacifica network in alliance with the KPFA Foundation people.
After that came another secret effort from Berkeley by then-KPFA LSB chair Carole Travis who had been soliciting celebrities to join the board of “Big Tent Radio,” a nonprofit she claimed to be starting to acquire Pacifica’s assets after it “collapsed.” Attempts were made to get her to resign as she was clearly working against the best interests of Pacifica but no bad deed goes unrewarded at Pacifica and she remained on the local board, soon to be on the PNB.
There is presently another plan to break up the network from Berkeley, reports of a similar plan from Los Angeles, plus a long-time plan from one faction in New York. None of the breakup and takeover plans seem particularly viable but the absence of any other plan or even a discussion on how to pay back the loan, or interest payments, seems puzzling considering Pacifica’s precarious financial situation. Are they waiting for a sudden “shocked” awareness of financial problems and an orchestrated rush to “reorganize,” creating the opportunity for the licenses going to current favored board members with waiting 501(c)(3)s?
You can hear PNB Director Donald Goldmacher in this clip at a recent Strategic Planning Committee meeting suggesting selling off Pacifica’s assets (possibly to him and his allies around the network). He was recently re-elected to the KPFA LSB and is a long-time member of the Berkeley faction which created the KPFA Foundation, above.
Thus the sale of the Berkeley buildings and elimination of the Pacifica National Office and its accounting staff, which become unnecessary if the organization is going to dissolve, or privatize, itself into board members’ hands, and makes complete sense in this context. There’s no need for a permanent in-house CFO if there’s no intention of Pacifica continuing as a network. Further evidence of short-term planning: the outsourced accountants have a two-year contract.
The Previous Election
Pacifica just had another election for the LSB which ended in March. Those running for re-election were micro-managing their own election. It was delayed, disorganized, over-budget, and the public and members were not properly informed. A 10% quorum of membership is required and KPFK had an 11% quorum — but 9% of the ballots were blank ballots. There was a quiet campaign advising voters that if they didn’t want to vote or if they didn’t know who to vote for, to send in a blank ballot to help reach a pseudo quorum. Those who were asking the membership for election or reelection received so few votes that they amounted to a vote of no confidence. They did not earn even the 10% required votes from the membership.
But like Trump losing the popular vote or George Bush, arguably never legitimately elected either time, that will not stop these illegitimately seated LSB members from acting as if they have a mandate. They are planning a big rewrite of the bylaws. The Pacifica bylaws are terrible, complicated and, in places, contradictory. They were written by a “listeners” after the lawsuits of 1999–2002 were settled. A rewrite by another group of “listeners” will not be better. The problem is not the bylaws, or Robert’s Rules of Order, the problem is electing “listeners” without skills or knowledge of broadcasting, basic finance, management or anything related, and no record of success in anything except getting elected and becoming board members of a multi-million dollar media organization which has only shown consistent decline for the last 20 years under their stewardship. Some of these people have been in and out of Pacifica’s governance for two decades or more. Due to Pacifica’s current structure, it’s impossible to replace them in favor of competent people. Bylaws rewritten by them will only entrench them further.
To establish a Foundation organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any member of the Foundation.
Insiders love to toss the Mission Statement around but never remember that first sentence. The reason the federal government mandates that non-profits have outside, independent boards, and also why they’re under the jurisdiction of Attorneys General is that they are funded by public money. Boards are supposed to make sure the public’s money goes where donors think it goes. The main job of a board is to report to the public about its financial operations. Pacifica’s board cannot or simply will not do that. The idea of public service appears long forgotten within Pacifica. One might assume this is just run of the mill incompetence, but it seems way past the time we can blame the chaos only on that.
It’s no wonder the members of KPFK’s Finance Committee refuse to answer awkward questions dealing with the financial realities of the operations. The board members paint rosy pictures of how well they’re doing to “save Pacifica” but, in reality, KPFK is in extremely bad shape and declining. You can hear it in the increasing fund drive days which are not bringing in enough to cover their expenses. Nor is Pacifica, as a whole, faring any better under the present PNB than it was under the previous PNB.
Instead of focusing on finances and complying with federal and state regulatory agencies the favored subject of discussion by board members has always been programming. The ultimate prize for aggressive board members is to be able to control programming to suit their tastes and ideologies — from expected old guard Trotskyism/Marxism/Revolutionary Communist Party/anarchism (etc.) to Scientology with a few progressive Democrats and black or Latino nationalists in the mix. The boards hire weak managers who they can then micromanage and work to create their own patronage system by giving program slots or jobs to their friends and allies. The resulting mediocrity and lack of cohesion of the program grid is the result. It obviously drives away listeners and extends fund drive which only turn off more listeners. Now those PNB members making decisions are actually proposing programs for the sole purpose of enticing funders. This shows a lack of imagination and any pretense of journalistic integrity. This is only the latest of ideas thought up by amateurs who have done little more than master the byzantine governance system of Pacifica to get themselves into these undeserved positions of authority. Look for sketchy health programs, celebrities and other unimaginative pandering unlikely to excite funders or listeners.
Anyone Still Interested in Running For the Board of this Experiment in Democracy?
For anyone still considering running for KPFK’s board, or any of the other stations, these are some of the bigger problems KPFK and Pacifica are facing. You will need to be a fighter with an independent mind because the entrenched board members of both factions are not really open to questions or open discussions, especially about financial matters.
The election information is here and the nominating deadline is June 30. If you have skills, Pacifica needs you. But Pacifica doesn’t have a history of treating talented people well.
The sad irony is that just at the time this country needs a vibrant non-corporate media, Pacifica continues to make itself even more insolvent, unlistenable and irrelevant.
That’s the bane of Pacifica’s existence: gaining power by means other than coming up thru experience and the ranks. Then making ill-informed changes, weakening the inner democracy and without due process. Due process and ‘bureaucracy’ are part of what’s necessary for fairness and intelligent change or refinement. ‘The end justifies the means’ is how to make stupid changes. “Don’t get bogged down in Bureaucracy” is a very destructive creedo, by those who want unhampered power and rise to power.
Goodbye Dick Gregory, no one can replace you. Rest in beauty.
Pacifica National USED TO have very little power and little staff including PRArchives until they were able to market the subcarrier frequencies and direct the income to themselves (Sharon Maeda).
Now they have hiring final power at National Board and since they have no experience running a non-profit listener-sponsored radio station, they don’t know who (whom?) to hire, and it shows.
Blosdale is iGM and a good choice.
Station Hiring committees used to be required to have representation from all quarters, LSBoard, paid staff, unpaid staff, local manager or rep. But last time at KPFK the paid staff didn’t even know they were replacing the iGM who we loved, with a lesser choice. Not consulted nor informed.
Sue Cohen Johnson
former Membership Dir., programmer, board op, receptionist, KPFK
Some say that making the LSBs not self-selecting but elected instead, was the downfall. I think we should have some of both.
“Lower” hires should also be by committee so that “Management” can’t just hire them, then promote them to Management without due process.
“The Pacifica Foundation (now known as Pacifica Foundation Radio) was born in the late 1940’s out of the (now nearly forgotten) peace movement surrounding World War Two. Lewis Hill, a conscientious objector and Washington, D.C. newsman, was fired from his mainstream reporting job when he refused to misrepresent the facts.
This was a time when the idea of a listener-sponsored radio station was a new one which had never been implemented. Many people doubted the viability of a broadcast model which didn’t rely on some kind of corporate or government funding. But the idea was too compelling for Hill and others who agreed with him. Pacifica was born and in 1949 KPFA went on the air from Berkeley, California.
KPFK, in Los Angeles, was the second of what would eventually become five Pacifica Stations to go on the air. It was 1959 and Terry Drinkwater was the first General Manager. Blessed with an enormous transmitter in a prime location, KPFK is the most powerful of the Pacifica stations and indeed is the most powerful public radio station in the Western United States. . . .
Democracy Now features KPFA On the Air documentary
Part 1, 11 minutes, the other 5 episodes follow on Youtube
“Pacifica Radio at 60: KPFA Remains a Sanctuary of Dissent Six Decades After Its Founding
Today marks the sixtieth anniversary of Pacifica Radio. On April 15th, 1949 at 3:00 p.m., a charismatic conscientious objector named Lewis Hill sat before a microphone and said, This is KPFA Berkeley. With that, KPFA went on the air, and the first listener-supported radio station in the United States was born. Pacifica Radio is the oldest independent media network in the United States, and its sixtieth birthday comes as a deepening crisis engulfs mainstream media. To commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of Pacifica Radio today, we feature a documentary about the first Pacifica Radio station: KPFA in Berkeley. Its called KPFA on the Air by filmmakers Veronica Selver and Sharon Wood and narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker.”
A reminiscence from the past:
“Pacific [sic] was so relevant when I started listening. Sundays were the reading of the John Birch Blue Book, followed by the Ameircan Nazi Party, followed by Dorothy Healy and the American Communist party. Dick van Dyke came down to the old studio (what is now the parking lot) to sing some show tunes, Aldous Huxley came down to the studio to do his show live (I only listened, never came to the studio until 1972). … far left, far right, minority/community and introduction to civil rights from many viewpoints. When I was there, even under the bizarre 50s revolutionary regieme of Ruth Hirshman, we had the Larmans, Paul Verdier with Sunday Bach, David Cloud, Carl (can’t think of his last name – atmospheric composer) Stone?, Johnny Otis, proto rap, garage band, tango nuevo, Peruvian pipes, and a dozen other flavors of music so people could get introduced and choose. Mario Cassetta alone brought 25 kinds of music. And incredible readers choosing amazing books ot share. And Hour 25, Nightangels, Something’s Happening… There was one invitation after another to get outside the oppressive overculure … and it was nowhere near as bad as it is now. ”
From me: Everyone agrees that KPFK needs to change, but no one agrees as to how it should change, or in which direction. From 1976-Robert Altman, Betty Friedan, Gus Hall Comm. Pres. Candidate, Jim Berland
Crigler’s recommendation isn’t “outdated”. It was sent on November 14, 2016. Here are some excerpts: “Before I get to your question, I should make sure that you know that CPB has been cracking down on noncompliance and beefing up its annual certification requirements. I favor in-person meetings for two reasons. First as a legal matter, CAB meetings have to be “open.” The other reason for having in-person meetings is to make sure that the CAB members are on-task and committed. You don’t want to encourage CAB members to multi-task on other interests during meetings which they do not attend in person. The LSBs are created by Pacifica’s Bylaws rather than CPB requirements, but because they function as committees of the PNB they are subject to open meeting rules, so my answer would be the same as for CABs”.
In March 1972 one young guy (Joe Adams) headed in to KPFK in Los Angeles after wrapping up his swing shift warehouse shipping clerk job, to help answer phones for their on-air fundraiser. When he walked into the phone room there were a bunch of people answering phones and another almost-as-young guy (Gregg Roebuck) was already there and answering phones.
It was Monday night. The on air-talent named Rick Bralver, one of the DJs in the after-midnight slot dubbed “NightAngels,” ran into the phone room to ask if anyone wanted to come up to the control room and go live on the air with him. The two guys did.
It wasn’t anything spectacular. They chatted, passed a joint, and cracked wise. Like y’do. The two realized they were both fans of Bob & Ray, Firesign Theater (who had started on KPFK), Lenny Bruce (who had not), and other contemporary subversive comedians of the day.
The next night, another member of the NightAngels did the same thing – Bruce Gossard. And the same two were joined by two more phone answerers. Phil Tuttle, a guy going for his First Class FCC license and a career in broadcasting and a young drama student named David Arias. They chatted and cracked wise. A good time was had by all.
The next night they were not asked to join the NightAngels on the air (Captain Midnight, Steve Tyler), but the next night the following NightAngel, Tom Sanford, did. And the Next night “Jason B. Good” asked them to join again and invited them to be part of the regular Saturday night NightAngels shift dubbed The Heavenly Miracle Air Experiment.
They did and the four dubbed themselves “The Sunday Gummies,” because Saturday midnight was actually Sunday Morning, and one irate listener was annoyed with all the cracking wise had called in to growl, “You gonna’ play music or gum all night?” To which Gregg Roebuck snarled, “We’re gonna Gum, how you like that?” And the Gummies were born. Phill Tuttle left to run a station in Kingman Arizona, and a friend of David’s, Cheryl Branson, joined them on the air, and another woman, Cheryl Jacobs, joined them.
It only lasted about a year, but we had fun. The Gummies wen their separate ays, but Joe and Gregg stayed to become the Mondy Gummies (after N’Wana Davis’ Music Black and White after midnight show), and stayed in the after Captain Midnight slot on other nights, first as the Sunday Gummies but eventually as Adams & Roebuck.
Things changed and David Arias is now David Arias-Rios who has been the morning man on KOMO in San Antonio, and I am retired and living in Raleigh, NC. Barbara is still around, but I have no idea where Phil or Cheryl are.
And Gregg died.
It’s been a few years, but with the Gummies Gregg and I began a long trek as friends and performers on radio, as stand-up comedians at the Troubador and the Pasadena Ice House open mike nights. We discovered I hated being seen on stage, and Gregg loved it. I went to out of sight positions s writer and director for radio theater and stage in Hollywood, and Gregg as a performer on radio drama, stage, commercials, and television (“Charlie” in the last season of GRACE UNDER FIRE).
We shared a couple of houses together. With David L. Krebs we did shows together as teachers for the American Radio Theater and short-lived NewRadio commercial radio drama Project. We did stage together and even quit drinking and drugs together. Some people suggested we were lovers, but we were never sexual with each other. He was my brother, and a bit more.
And I am finally to follow through with something he wanted to do before he died. We talked about using the internet to do a new incarnation of the old Adams and Roebuck show. And he died and I couldn’t even listen to the old shows that had survived.
Time heals and I was able to look at the idea of doing something with what he wanted, and one of the people who was there in the middle of the KPFK years, Ed Hammond, made the perfect suggestion for the new project. Me alone equals “Adams and Roebuck Minus One.”
I’m thinking – Podcast with the old comedy we used to play, little excerpts from the old shows, sides of comedy music and bits, just like we did before. But Gregg isn’t there. From 30+ years of collaboration and knowing each other, I don’t think he’s floating around – looking down and smiling.
But I think it can honor him, and honor is something the living do in name and remembrance of those who have based beyond.
It will take a while to get the show up on its legs, but it begins with a concept and a name. And a desire to honor my gone brother and funny, funny man.
Do you have a radio production worthy of national broadcast?
Feature it on Sprouts: Radio from the Grassroots!
Sprouts: Radio From the Grassroots is a 29-minute weekly program coordinated out of the Pacifica Affiliates office, dedicated to showcasing radio content produced at community radio stations and independent production groups. Sprouts celebrates grassroots voices and is renowned for bringing diverse topics to national and international audiences. It is an open door for grassroots radio producers who wish to easily get widespread attention for a particular production, story, or issue.
Participating producers are provided with Sprouts Production Instructions, including the introduction and closing script and music, as well as assistance, if needed. A variety of topics and styles are acceptable, from mini-documentaries, to cultural themes, to breaking issues of national importance. Radio producers are encouraged to send us local stories that have national relevance and are presented in a way that a national audience can appreciate.
Sprouts is distributed by Pacifica Radio and is free of charge to all radio stations. It is aired regularly by 40-50 radio station in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The program is also aired by many other stations on an irregular basis, depending upon the topic.
Contributing a production to Sprouts is an excellent way to bring a worthwhile production piece to a wider audience and to let people know about great production and reporting in grassroots radio. It is an excellent way to get an important story or issue to a wide audience.
Episodes of Sprouts can be heard below, through the SoundCloud audio widget.
For more information, contact Ursula Ruedenberg / Ursula@pacifica.org / 510-812-7989
pacificanetwork – Sprouts: Election Eve at the Grassroots
pacificanetwork – Sprouts: Disaster Radio
pacificanetwork – Sprouts: Sports and Social Justice
KPFK Phone room in richer days, another table full of phones is behind the camera and there are 2 along the left wall. This was before computers in the phone room. Zuberi and Jonathan and Terry slaved long and hard on an emergency basis to get the new computerized system working (during the beginning of a FunDrive).
I am made increasingly aware of the conflict non-profit organizations experience when faced with choosing between:
Raising the money they need using a traditional philanthropic process.
Making a profit from selling and endorsing commercial products and services.
The number and variety of selling opportunities presented to non-profit organizations, especially through the Internet, is growing rapidly. All too often, the advertisements for those products and services make outrageous and misleading promises of big and easy money to needy and vulnerable non-profits.
There is nothing wrong with selling a commercial product or service to help support a non-profit organization if:
The time expended can be justified by the profit gained.
It neither restricts nor replaces the far more effective and time-proven philanthropic process—a process that has seen billions of dollars raised over decades of time.
An organization institutes a product or sales program as additional and complimentary to their regular fund-raising, not as a replacement or alternative to it.
“Girl Scouts Can’t Live on Cookies Alone”
Raising contributed income for non-profit organizations requires much more than selling commercial products and services to make money. Such programs have their place, but most organizations simply cannot generate enough income from them to meet all their needs. A number of years ago the Girl Scouts proved that point with their highly visible campaign to let the public know that “Girl Scouts can’t live on cookies alone,” and that the organization required additional major support in the form of philanthropic contributions.
Selling products and services to generate income seems an easy way to make money. Some commercial vendors of products and services even tell their prospective non-profit customers, “all of the money you’ll ever need,” can be raised this way. That “sales pitch” is very attractive to non-profits which are unable to fathom how they can undertake the hard and sometimes frustrating work of recruiting volunteers, identifying prospects, managing campaigns, and asking for money.
It seems easier and less painful to sell products and services to their constituents and to the general public. The “make more money than you’ll ever need” sales hype they hear from some commercial vendors is quite attractive indeed.
While there are many reputable vendors of products and services now in the marketplace who seek to help non-profits develop new sources of income, they do not always apply a customer-first attitude to their non-profit customers and clients:
They are not assessing the real needs of the non-profits to see if the proposed product or service-related program has a place in the organization at that time.
If it does have a place, how it can be a good fit.
Well meaning vendors of merchandise and services often fail to realize that many charitable organizations are likely to embrace a sales program because they perceive it as a way to provide quick and promising rewards while being less stressful and labor-intensive than fund-raising campaigns.
A non-profit organization must always prioritize and put into meaningful perspective opportunities to generate contributed income. In the main, they must always strive to raise the greatest amount of money from the fewest funding sources in the shortest period of time. This simple premise is absolutely critical to most non-profits to employ because of their constantly imminent needs and limited resources. All fund-raising efforts should be measured in those ways.
When considering selling a product or service, officials of a non-profit organization should ask themselves:
If we sell a product or service to help support our organization, will the effort be justified with the time expended relative to the profit gained?
Will we assure that the selling program neither restricts nor replaces the far more effective and proven philanthropic process we should be employing?
What marketing plans can we develop which will maximize our chances for real profit?
Will we attempt to sell to the general public which does not know our organization? If so, do we really believe we will make money by selling a commercial product available elsewhere? In short, what compelling reason do these persons having no relationship whatsoever with our organization have to buy from us?
If we sell to our regular donors, will we run the risk of annoying them and perhaps losing their charitable support because of what they may see as yet another solicitation? Contrary to what the vendors say, our regular donors will see their purchases from us primarily as charitable support of our organization.
When we promote the products and services of one company, will we risk the loss of traditional philanthropic support from other competing companies?
Is the product or service of a type and quality we would want to associate with our organization?
If the product or service is to be purchased via the Internet access, what do we know about how Internet-capable our constituents are and how receptive they may be to buying online?
Are we willing to take the chance that the product or service we are selling can be withdrawn by the provider at any time leaving us high and dry?
. . . .
And please remember, the good name of your organization is far more important than any financial gain. Whenever you associate your organization’s reputation to a particular vendor or service provider, or the type of product and service you will be presenting to your constituencies, be certain to avoid embarrassment for less-than-tasteful associations and watch for any hidden potential for controversy. If at all possible, seek to match the commercial enterprise with your mission for a more acceptable and logical “fit,” such as the Heart Association has with the maker of “lean cuisine” and the Arthritis Foundation has with the maker of aspirin.”
[And there are comments at the original posting site.]
John Oliver: We Should Be Really Worried About the Subprime Car Loan Bubble About to Burst (Video)
Why a Tax on Wall Street Trades Is a Great Idea (Video)
Who’s on Whose Side? (Video)
By Elliot D. Cohen
The New Election Laws and the Suits Challenging Them
Posted on Aug 14, 2016
By Sarah Smith / ProPublica
Fifteen states will have laws in place this Election Day that have never before been tested in a presidential election. (Map: Sarah Smith and Al Shaw/ProPublica, Source: Brennan Center)
There are 15 states with new voting laws that have never before been used during a presidential election, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. These laws include restrictions like voter ID requirements and limits on early voting. Many are making their way through the courts, which have already called a halt to two laws in the past month — one in North Carolina and one in North Dakota.
“All the sides were pushing for opinions over the summer so that nobody would run into the concern that it was all of a sudden too late to shift what the state had been planning to do,” said Jennifer Clark, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.
We’re tracking the new laws and the suits against them in the run-up to Election Day. We’ll keep this updated as decisions roll in. Excerpts:
Status: A voting law passed in 2009, but only now in force, will be in place on Election Day. Litigation pending.
The GOP-dominated legislature passed a law back in 2009 that required voters to show proof of citizenship when registering. But the state couldn’t implement it until received the go-ahead in January from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The EAC is a federal government agency that was created by the Help America Vote Act in the wake of the 2000 Florida election fiasco. It develops election-administration guidelines and serves as the election administration clearinghouse. The League of Women Voters filed suit a month later over Georgia’s proof-of-citizenship requirement, as well as similar ones in Alabama and Kansas, and lost. Another lawsuit is pending alleging that the state illegally purged voters from the rolls.
Status: New voting law will be in place on Election Day.
Indiana has long had a photo-ID law. In fact, the Supreme Court case that ultimately found voter-ID laws to be constitutional, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, originated from a 2005 Indiana law. A 2013 add-on allows partisan election officers to ask for anyone’s proof of identification.
In 2015, a judge ruled in favor of an ACLU lawsuit challenging a law that made it a felony to take a photo of your own ballot.
Status: Voting law overturned
A federal judge struck down Michigan’s ban on straight-ticket voting in July, ruling that it would unfairly burden black voters. In straight-ticket voting, a voter can select all candidates from the same party with one stroke. African-American voters are more likely to vote Democrat, and lawyers opposing the ban found that 70 percent of ballots in Detroit and Flint – cities with high percentages of African Americans – were cast with straight-ticket voting.
Status: New voting law will be in place on Election Day, with a fail-safe.
New Hampshire’s photo-ID law was first passed in 2012, when a Republican-controlled legislature overrode a veto by a Democratic governor. In September 2015, the state added a safety net for people without ID: They’ll have their picture taken at the polls and get cards sent to their home address to confirm their identities. In July 2015, Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would have required a 30-day residency to vote.
Status: Voting law overturned. State intends to appeal.
An appeals court struck down North Carolina’s voting restrictions — which were introduced the day after the Supreme Court decision in 2013 that limited enforcement of federal Voting Rights Act. The North Carolina law added a strict photo-ID requirement, shaved a week off of early voting, and cut same-day registration, preregistration and out-of-precinct voting. The Circuit Court found that the law’s provisions “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The state legislature, the ruling said, had specifically requested data on which racial groups benefited from certain voting mechanisms. The legislature then created laws which targeted the tactics most likely to make it easier for African-Americans to vote. In a rare move, the appeals court reversed the fact-finding of the district court, writing that it “fundamentally erred”.
“We can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” the circuit court found.
While the state’s attorney general, Democrat Roy Cooper, said his office would not appeal the ruling, North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, says he’ll appeal and suggested that Cooper should stop taking his salary until he does. Cooper and McCrory are running against each other for governor.
Status: New voting law will be in place on Election Day
On May 24, a federal court threw out measures in this swing state that cut early voting from 35 to 28 days. The measures had also eliminated “Golden Week,” which let residents register and cast absentee ballots simultaneously. On June 7, a federal judge blocked other restrictions on absentee ballots as discriminatory. The law had required that absentee ballots be rejected if a voter made an error such as writing their address incorrectly, and shortened the time a voter had to fix such mistakes.
Ohio had also prohibited poll workers from helping voters fill out the absentee ballot unless voters were disabled or illiterate. A June 7 decision blocked that restriction.
The state is appealing all of the rulings.
A separate lawsuit challenged restrictions on absentee ballots that prohibited unsolicited absentee ballot mailers and prepaid postage on absentee ballots. The plaintiffs lost and the case is being appealed.
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the HeadlinesA Progressive Journal of News and Opinion
Publisher Zuade Kaufman | Editor Robert Scheer
I am following Ferndale Radio’s campaign to raise enough funds to launch a Low Power FM station in and around the Rust Belt Market zone of Metro Detroit. The group has a nice promotional Vimeo on its indiegogo page. It confirms what I already knew but haven’t really wanted to face. Lots of young people really, truly do not give a crap about FM radio any more.“FM radio?” one filmed interviewee responds to a query. “It’s actually more Internet radio now because I’m getting tired of all the commercials and the same music over and over.”
“I don’t listen to FM radio,” another Certifiable Young Person rather unashamedly proclaims.
“Why not?” the interviewer asks.
“Because it sucks,” she replies with a big grin, and then laughs.
Oh fudge. Well, I shouldn’t be surprised given stats indicating that around one out of five ‘Muricans no longer owns an AM/FM receiver. You can bet some of these hip looking kids are among them. Still, what a revoltin’ development. It took years to get this wave of Federal Communications Commission Low Power FM licenses. Now the owners have to figure out ways to entice their intended audiences back to FM.
On the other hand, the Ferndale radio group, which got its license in 2014, seems to have a very smart strategy for making their LPFM work: park it right in the middle of their little town’s commercial hub and put an emphasis on broadcasting indie music. We are talking the city of Ferndale, Michigan here; population around 20,000 or so souls.
There’s a nice interview with Chris Best, the owner of the Rust Belt Market, whose said an LPFM was part of his original development plan. “We had no idea about the FCC and the regulations put in place,” he confesses. “We just thought it was as easy as starting a radio station. You guys have done all the leg work. We couldn’t be more excited to make this happen.”
Here’s the project’s official indigogo statement:
“Your donation will ensure an alternative to Taylor Swift’s domination of the airwaves. We’ll play music you can’t hear anywhere else on the FM dial, and we’ll offer unique programming, like on-air book clubs, radio dramas and much more. This is a radio station for the Ferndale resident, and we’re going to need your help to make it a reality.”
“I would be very interested in something like that,” somebody in the film says, “as opposed to hearing Taylor Swift 63 times a day.”
Ok, we get it. No Taylor. Yes to local music and local talk. So far the campaign has 39 backers and has raised a little over $1.8k of its 15k goal. That is pretty good for a proposed radio station serving a town this size. Hopefully these folks will make their goal in a month or so.
Are you working abroad? Do you now live in some wonderful city that is fascinating and different, but also pretty difficult to navigate through, socially speaking? Well, one solution is to do what Michael Egerton, now an expat resident of Hong Kong did: start an Internet radio station.
Egerton hails from the Netherlands. He lives on Hong Kong’s biggest island: Lantau. Hence no surprise that he dubbed his station Radio Lantau. The South China Morning Post has a great profile of the operation. It caters to around 12,000 listeners, many of whom miss the kind of tunes they heard back home. Comments from Egerton’s fans attest to this:
“His show is pretty much the only Hong Kong programme I listen to. Old school hip hop on Hong Kong radio is really not happening.”
“A lot of music he plays, I would say he plays for western listeners … stuff that reminds me of back home, back in the day.”
Having spent some weeks in Hong Kong not that long ago, I can corroborate these quotes. Hong Kong AM/FM listeners are really into talk radio. No surprise there. The place is so intensely political because of its fraught relationship with the People’s Republic of China, hence the yearning for 24/7 commentary. The other radio genre they love is (obviously) “Cantopop” (or HK pop as it’s also called), which is lots of fun but very idiosyncratic.
So if you are looking for the latest western stuff, music-wise, you are going to have to resort to your own devices, figuratively and literally in Radio Lantau’s case.
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Nan Rubin may be able to help you.
She was part of a Strategic Process imposed on KPFK in 1986. But Lorenzo Milam’s off-titled Sex in Broadcasting book was the handbook for getting on the air for many years.
My greatest personal satisfaction in a long public broadcasting career has come from building a radio station from scratch. Flipping the switch and filling that empty space on the radio dial with brand new sounds for the very first time — nothing can match it.
I’m close to social security age now, but signing my first station on the air in 1975 was one of the biggest thrills of my life.
My first radio station was WAIF 88.3 FM in Cincinnati, one of a wave of community stations in Atlanta, Madison, Memphis, St. Louis, Tampa and elsewhere that hit the airwaves between 1970 and 1980 as part of the counter-culture and anti-Vietnam War era, guided in part by Lorenzo Milam and Jeremy Lansman’s irreverent station-building guide “Sex and Broadcasting.” We were licensed to Stepchild Radio of Cincinnati, Inc. and our bumper stickers read “Out of the Ordinary Radio.”
Building a radio station takes a serious commitment. First, you have to set-up a non-profit organization so you can legally apply for a broadcast license and also raise money. At the same time, you have to do a technical search to find an open frequency on the FM dial, plus locate a real physical place to put a transmitter and antenna. Then you are ready to fill out an FCC application requesting the frequency, and the FCC sits on it for months while they make sure everything meets their requirements.
In the meantime, you become a community organizer, holding a gazillion meetings to plan station operations, implement decision-making, devise programming schedules, scout out broadcasting equipment and studio locations, and ask people to give you money for a radio station that is just an idea and doesn’t exist yet. You are also holding your breath and hoping no other group has the same idea and applied for the same frequency.
I don’t know how long it will take, but I believe they are reactivating the hiring process for a Program Director at KPFK.
TITLE: BUSINESS MANAGER
STATUS: REGULAR PART TIME — EXEMPT/CONFIDENTIAL
SITE: KPFK-PACIFICA RADIO, North Hollywood CA (Los Angeles Metro)
BENEFITS: MEDICAL, DENTAL, LIFE, DISABILITY (Upon Completion of Introductory Status)
CORPORATION:The Pacifica Foundation is a non-profit agency providing educational services. Mission: To establish a foundation organized and operated exclusively for education purposes no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any member of the Foundation. Corporation services are provided in Berkeley/North Hollywood, CA, Washington, D.C., Houston, TX and New York, NY.
DEFINITION: The Business Manager will work under the supervision of Pacifica’s Chief Financial Officer and/or Controller, and administratively under the station’s General Manager. The Business Manager is responsible for payroll and payroll reporting; accounting/bookkeeping for KPFK, financial reports to local management and local station board, Pacifica National Office (PNO) management, This staff will also be responsible for 1099 preparation, audit support; account reconciliation, credit card processing/deposit, and coordinate with Membership and Development departments as necessary and other duties assigned. This is a full-time exempt confidential position, with all work to be performed on site.
DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES:
1. Process, review and submit station’s payroll information to Pacifica National Office (PNO)
2. Maintain the station’s personnel files, insurance and benefit plans, update payroll and personnel info as necessary
3. Maintain union dues, seniority pay and other union-related benefit plans and reports
4. Track and administer employees’ earnings records and process employee garnishments and voluntary deductions
5. Review and process of Accounts Payable invoices/bills and other disbursements
6. Update accounts payable schedules and vendor files/information, reconcile outstanding A/P against general ledger.
7. Schedule, secure approval and pay station obligation and payables
8. Prepare and maintain monthly ledger, coordinate with the PNO in generating financial statements monthly, quarterly for use by local management and local station board and committees.
9. Prepare and maintain grant and special fund-raising project worksheets as necessary.
10. Collect and review 1099 information — maintain associated records.
11. Coordinate with Membership / Development Departments in recording cash deposits and station’s income and revenue
12. Maintain files for deposits and other cash receipts, prepare bank reconciliation
13. Assist the station’s General Manager in developing annual station budget
14. Assist in the preparation of year-end audit schedules and reconciliation and compilation of supporting documentation for external auditors and the PNO finance staff.
15. Assure that office systems are maintained and functioning.
16. Troubleshoot accounting software and computer hardware as necessary.
17. Follow and implement Foundation, KPFK, and PNO policies and procedures.
Job descriptions are subject to change without notice based on the needs of the KPFK and/or the PNO.
Education: One year certificate from college or technical school; or 2 — 3 years accounting course work
Experience: Progressive experience in A/R, A/P, Payroll and other accounting activities preferred.
Skills and Abilities: Ability to calculate figures and amounts such as discounts, interest, commission, proportions percentages. Ability to apply concepts of basic algebra. Common sense of understanding to carry out instructions furnished in written, oral, or diagram form. Excellent problem solving variables where only limited standardized instructions exist. Aptitude to read and interpret documents such as financial statements, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedures manuals. Ability to produce routine reports and correspondence. Strong computer skills, Great Plains or any accounting software exposure, spreadsheets, word processing, internet. Must be customer service oriented and able to relate well with management, staff, board, vendors and the general public. Strong ability to prioritize and multitask.
Ability to think clearly and manage multiple changing priorities, and remain pleasant and positive. Requires critical thinking and ability to support people with difficult challenges. Requires good judgment.
License Required: Employment is contingent upon proof of eligibility to work, 21 years of age or older, verification of degree/credentials, satisfactory health exam, credit check, agree to uphold all of the Pacifica Foundation Policies and Procedures, Confidentiality Agreement, Policy on Outside Employment, Policy on Prohibiting/Preventing Workplace Violence, Policy to Prohibit Harassment in the Workplace, Policy on Ethics, adhere to Drug-Free Workplace Policy, compliance with Workplace injury and Illness Prevention Policies, and compliance with HIPAA Rules and Regulations, (by signature).
THE PACIFICA FOUNDATION IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER
Pacifica Foundation does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, ancestry, religious creed, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, marital status, equal pay, disability, medical condition, sexual orientation, and genetic information. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
JOB TITLE: Program Director
Original Posting Date 8/24/11
Program Director sought for listener-sponsored, free speech radio KPFK-FM 90.7 FM Los Angeles. Candidates should be experienced.
The program Director Search is currently on hold. A new search will be launched soon. Please check back for info this position.
Pacifica Foundation/KPFK is an equal employment opportunity and does not discriminate against otherwise qualified applicants on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, disability or handicap, or veteran status. Pacifica Foundation/KPFK provides reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities. Applicants seeking reasonable accommodations in the hiring process should contact the General Manager.
KPFK and Pacifica are founded upon a Mission Statement, which to this day remains unique in radio broadcasting:
To contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors
To explore the causes of conflict; to promote the study of political and economic problems, and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms
To provide outlets for the creative skills and energies of the community and to serve the cultural welfare
To obtain access to news sources not commonly brought together in the same medium; and to employ varied sources to present accurate and comprehensive news on all matters that vitally affect our community
BACKGROUND OF THE PACIFICA FOUNDATION
Pacifica Foundation is a 501(c)(3) radio broadcasting organization with five member stations in New York, Houston, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Berkeley, California. We employ 179 full-time staff and each station also utilizes an average of 200 unpaid staff. We are a membership-based organization and our five stations have approximately 95,000 members nationwide. In September, 2009, members in each of the five signal areas will elect nine (9) Listener-member delegates and three (3) staff delegates to sit on their local station boards (LBSes). The returns of candidate choices by Listener-members nearly always exceed the quorum of 10%.
For at least 20 years, KPFK has been airing a more or less weekly radio show devoted to talking about the news media in Los Angeles and beyond. For most if not all of that time, Barbara Osborn has been the host. Since she has become director of communications for Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the show has been more in the hands of Howard Blume and Gail Holland, both of them staff writers at the Los Angeles Times. I have been on several times, and the show has tackled issues on the LA media scene from many directions through the years.
Anyway, the show’s run is coming to an end. [* Update: Maybe not. Further discussions are ensuing. More to come.]
On July 11 the Pacifica station at 90.7 FM will be dropping several shows and adding more Spanish-language programming. The note from KPFK general manager Leslie Radford makes it sound as if the shows could have gone on if the program manager had presented the boss with some options, and there is also the possibility of a future podcast.
As of July 11, Indy Media on Air, Deadline L.A., Treasures of the West, Poets’ Cafe, and Theatreworks will no longer be broadcast on KPFK 90.7FM.
In an effort to diversify our programming further, we are complying with the Pacifica National Board mandate to increase our Spanish-language programming by five hours. We will be doing that between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Monday-Friday.
On June 15, I requested the Interim Program Director give me options to re-arrange the existing programming to accommodate this change. He hasn’t presented me with those options, so I’m left with simply cutting the programming in this timeslot.
I understand this is harsh, but please understand that it isn’t intended to be disrespectful of your contributions to KPFK, nor is it a judgment on the quality of your show. I am very grateful for all you’ve done for KPFK. It is simply that I have no options except to make this cut across the strip. If you would like your show to continue as a podcast, please talk to Interim Program Director Alan Minsky.
General Manager, KPFK 90.7FM
Gerente General de KPFK 90.7 FM
Steve Lopez has written a lovely column on his friend Mollie Lowery, the Skid Row organizer and housing advocate and co-founder of the LAMP Community. Lowery died Monday at home in Highland Park at age 70, after having cancer. Lowery had helped Lopez with his column subject Nathaniel Ayers back when Ayers was homeless on the streets of downtown. From Steve’s column yesterday:
For decades in Los Angeles, no one was more dedicated to comforting the sick, the destitute and the forgotten than Mollie Lowery.
Mayors, supervisors and other public officials sought her out for policy advice.
Countless addled, suffering souls who could not help themselves, or would not be helped by others, were reeled in by Lowery. Some of them joined her team, roaming the streets of Los Angeles on a quest to help more people.
Tall and blade-thin, Lowery carried herself with great humility and spoke softly, but worked fiercely.
She was determined to do, as she put it, whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to help homeless people — especially those with severe mental illness — rebuild their lives.
Lowery was a fierce advocate for and friend of those she worked to help. In 1985, she founded Los Angeles Men’s Place, a skid row drop-in center for people with mental illness, and later helped expand it to Lamp Community, which provided permanent supportive housing that included counseling and other social services.Lowery served as director of programs and then executive director of Housing Works, another homeless services organization, from 2006 to 2015, and continued as a consultant to the nonprofit until a few weeks before she died.
Mike Neely, chair of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Commission, said that Lowery “was one of the first people that said that homeless mentally ill people don’t have to be condemned to life on the street.”
Lowery grew up in the Valley and attended Bishop Alemany High School. She received a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from USC. Lowery, who briefly became a Catholic nun, got into community organizing with the Ocean Park Community Center in Santa Monica. Lowery and philanthropist Frank Rice founded the Los Angeles Men’s Place, or LAMP, in 1985.
The KPFA Worker website says that the Pacifica Foundation has retained the law firm of Jackson Lewis to manage some of its legal affairs. The foundation owns listener supported station KPFA in Berkeley, and four similar non-commercial stations in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C. and Houston.“We see the entry of Jackson Lewis as a declaration of war on the unions that represent Pacifica workers,” wrote KPFA’s union stewards to their employer last week. “We fear it will lead to unnecessary legal expenses the network can ill afford, sour Pacifica’s already dismal relationship with its union workers, and alienate many listener-supporters who do not want their donations to be handed over to one of organized labor’s greatest enemies in the United States.”
KPFA’s paid staff is represented by the Communications Workers of America. Jackson Lewis is widely regarded as a management law firm that practices “union avoidance.” The pro-union American Rights at Work website cites numerous instances of the aggressive stance that the firm allegedly counsels for its clients, among them Borders Books.
Below are excerpts from Michelle Alexander’s article in The Nation titled “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.”
“[Hillary Clinton is] facing a democratic socialist who promises a political revolution that will bring universal healthcare, a living wage, an end to rampant Wall Street greed, and the dismantling of the vast prison state—many of the same goals that Martin Luther King Jr. championed at the end of his life. Even so, black folks are sticking with the Clinton brand. …”On the campaign trail, Bill Clinton made the economy his top priority. … In practice, however, he capitulated entirely to the right-wing backlash against the civil-rights movement and embraced former president Ronald Reagan’s agenda on race, crime, welfare, and taxes—ultimately doing more harm to black communities than Reagan ever did. …
“Bill Clinton presided over the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history. … He supported the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine, which produced staggering racial injustice in sentencing and boosted funding for drug-law enforcement.
“Clinton championed the idea of a federal ‘three strikes’ law in his 1994 State of the Union address and, months later, signed a $30 billion crime bill that created dozens of new federal capital crimes, mandated life sentences for some three-time offenders, and authorized more than $16 billion for state prison grants and the expansion of police forces. …
“When Clinton left office in 2001, the United States had the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Human Rights Watch reported that in seven states, African Americans constituted 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison, even though they were no more likely than whites to use or sell illegal drugs. … All of the presidents since 1980 have contributed to mass incarceration, but as Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson recently observed, ‘President Clinton’s tenure was the worst.’ …
“In her support for the 1994 crime bill, [Hillary Clinton] used racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals. ‘They are not just gangs of kids anymore,’ she said. ‘They are often the kinds of kids that are called “super-predators.” No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.’ …
“As unemployment rates sank to historically low levels for white Americans in the 1990s, the jobless rate among black men in their 20s who didn’t have a college degree rose to its highest level ever. … Why is this not common knowledge? Because government statistics like poverty and unemployment rates do not include incarcerated people. …
“To make matters worse, the federal safety net for poor families was torn to shreds by the Clinton administration in its effort to ‘end welfare as we know it.’ … Experts and pundits disagree about the true impact of welfare reform, but one thing seems clear: Extreme poverty doubled to 1.5 million in the decade and a half after the law was passed. …
“Perhaps most alarming, Clinton also made it easier for public-housing agencies to deny shelter to anyone with any sort of criminal history (even an arrest without conviction) and championed the ‘one strike and you’re out’ initiative, which meant that families could be evicted from public housing because one member (or a guest) had committed even a minor offense. …
“Hillary Clinton is still singing the same old tune in a slightly different key. She is arguing that we ought not be seduced by Bernie’s rhetoric because we must be ‘pragmatic,’ ‘face political realities,’ and not get tempted to believe that we can fight for economic justice and win.”
P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.
Late Friday Nights 2-4am on 90.7fm KPFK Los Angeles and kpfk.org with DJ’s SeanO, Val the Vandle & Francesca Harding.
Soundwaves Radio strives to bring you the best in all forms of music both new and old. Live guest DJ set’s and producer performances as well as extensive interviews with artists from all over the globe. 2-4am early Saturday morning on 90.7FM KPFK Los Angeles and Streaming worldwide at www.kpfk.org.
Much L.A. radio hay was made over the placing of a KPCC 89.3 FM billboard advertising its “Ideas not ideology” slogan practically on top my radio station’s studios at KPFK 90.7 FM, where I host the Pocho Hour of Power every Friday at 4 PM.
As I walked in today, I was alerted that someone had replaced the KPCC billboard with our own KPFK billboard. Didn’t know we had such a substantial advertising budget.
Nice job! (above photo by KPFK’s Ernesto Arce) Here’s the before picture:
EARTH DAY! Playimg live on the air in Los Angeles at KPFK on Canto Sin Fronteras translation Music Without Borders, highlighting music from from around the world emphasis is the cool sounds of world music. Hosted by Tanya Torres for 21 years strong.
In an age when “progressives” seem segmented at times, each faction focusing on specific issue areas; and at a time when the power of media seems central, the promise of the Pacifica network could be of enormous importance.
Pacifica was founded by radical pacifists who refused to fight even in World War II; nor were they content to wash their hands of the situation and be quietly hidden away in camps. Rather they wanted to disseminate their ideas; so after World War II, they established Pacifica radio, in the words of its mission, to “gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between” and to “contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors.” Hopefully the Pacifica board, which meets this weekend in New York City, will live up to this legacy.
In the late 90s and early in this decade, problems long-festering Pacifica spilled out and resulted in a series of lockouts, lawsuits and conflicts that gripped the network, which owns five stations. By the time the cataclysmic events of 9-11 happened, the network was in a state of internal war; crucially, its flagship program, “Democracy Now!”, was eerily being censored from Pacifica’s stations in New York City and Washington, D.C.
This occurred largely because “Democracy Now!”, unlike much of the other programming on those stations, sought to report on moves by the Pacifica national board, which seemed intent on mainstreaming the network, and possibly selling off parts of it. There was some indication that these actions could even have been motivated by goals of personal profit for board members (the stations are now worth hundreds of millions of dollars). . . .”
for more go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/06/02/can-pacifica-live-up-to-its-promise/
KPFK Listener Delegates
Write-in (Dorothy Reik)
KPFK Staff Delegates
Tejvir “Tej” Grewall
I think I was 10th for 6 seats.
January 9, 2016, at 11:56pm Joseph K. AdamsWhen I was there, we had a village. We shared meals, some lived with each other, some brought food to the station (some Johnnie Otis buffets were intense), did picnic jaunts to the old zoo at Griffith park, met in the conference room to talk about programming, episodes of upcoming shows… even when you didn’t agree with someone, there was respect and communication.
On 13 September 2015 at 06:17, Joseph Adams wrote:
Re: Johnny Otis- “I think he was earlier than that [’78]. My first time in the new building was March, 6th or 7th of 1972. I had been at the old building before that, but Johnnie and his clan were there when I arrived. I know because they always brought LOTS of food down to the studio, and Shuggie was only about 14. But I have to say I don’t really know his tenure… Wikipedia says he was on KPFK in the 1980s, but I stopped being a programmer at K by 1978, and Johnny (that’s how Wikipedia spells it, but I thought it was spelled the other way – for many years) had been on for years by the time I was leaving.
I think the only connection I had …was a couple of guest spots I did for Roy – the last being about 2 weeks before the 1989 quake in San Francisco. ’78 sounds about right… I came back from Phoenix after a failed relocation to find Chapel Perilous on the air….I was really very happy to find that when I came home with my tail between my legs, my work was being appreciated.
I haven’t tuned in for him for a while – is Something’s Happening still a going concern?
Don’t be too surprised at the events at K – when people show up, form a community and create something of value, cons and scavengers try to get what they want from it, even if it means the thing they are raiding dies.
On the other hand, it becomes a Golden Age we got to experience. People don’t believe me when I talk about my regular interactions with Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, John Hartford, Roz and Howards parade of musical guests, Hour 25’s parade of writers, newsmakers of ‘the day’ and the things that were just going on… they think I’m delusional. But not about THAT.
I knew KPFK when it wasn’t painful.
Johnny Otis, Bill Gardner, Bernie Pearl, etc.
Joseph Kessler Adams
Author of CLIMBING THE SPIRAL MOUNTAIN, SONG OF ORPHANS, NIALL’S DREAM, THE MAMA LAW, FEVER, ASSASSINS, and LIVING IN THE HOUSE OF ANGELS. Available in paperback from Amazon, in ePub from Kindle, iBookstore, Nook and Kobo.
‘Democracy Now!’ duo, Gonzalez and Goodman, blast new WBAI team
Sunday, June 14, 2009, 9:17 PM
Under normal circumstances,Amy Goodman and Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez say, they’d be happy their daily “Democracy Now” show has moved from 9 a.m. to 8 a.m. on WBAI (99.5 FM).
But with WBAI having another of its periodic civil wars, they aren’t so sure.
Before the shift last week, co-hosts Goodman and Gonzalez sent a letter to acting general manager LaVarn Williamssaying that while the station has the right to air the program whenever it wishes, “This decision disturbs us deeply and we urge that it be reconsidered.”
Their concern, they say, involves the fact that moving “Democracy Now” is only one part of larger changes at WBAI, including the dismissal of station manager Anthony Riddle and program director Bernard White.
Critics of Riddle and White charged they had narrowed the station’s appeal, costing it listenership and revenue. White disputes those assertions, and his supporters have launched a campaign to “take back WBAI.”
Goodman and Gonzalez’s letter says firing White “lacked basic human consideration” and expresses concern that the new team is using “Democracy Now” as “a weapon against its opponents.” . . . .
A strategic planning working group — formed by the Pacifica Foundation Radio National Board of Directors, which oversees a network of nonprofit radio stations headquartered in Berkeley — held a planning meeting Thursday to try to keep its business alive.
At the meeting, the board’s leaders discussed the financial struggles ailing the company and potential contingency plans in case of short-term default. Jose Luis Fuentes-Roman, a member of the Pacifica National Board, or PNB, mentioned the selling of the Berkeley office — which serves as the national office — and financial swaps of broadcasting rights as possible ways to raise money in the face of mounting debt. …
Report to the Local Station Board by Leslie Radford
The whole thing: http://kpfk.org/index.php/k2-categories/from-the-general-manager/9319-report-to-the-local-station-board-15-november-2015#.VkqbZHarQy5
“…OCTOBER FUND DRIVE
Our fund drive came in at 80% of goal. Although that’s not enough, it is better than recent fund drives. I previously distributed a spreadsheet of the amounts raised by each show per day to the LSB.
Looking forward, we will continue to ask our unpaid staff to take more of a role in the fund drive. The drives are particularly demanding on unpaid staff because they need to acquire premiums and prep for pitching, in addition to their regular contributions to the station. We also need to find ways to maximize fund raising in our overnight hours. We tried putting health and spirituality premiums in that stretch, but it didn’t result in enough revenue to keep the phone room open overnight.
Thanks to two volunteers, the copy room where stationary is stored, has been organized so that we can inventory what we have and what we need in advance of the tax season mailings.
The Halloween Monster’s Ball essentially broke even, but it did open up a solid connection with The Airliner for future events. Batacuda, organized by one of our unpaid collectives, was last night….”
[From me, Sue: Why should the phone room be open overnight on weekdays, it’s not open overnight on weekends.]
[I am putting the latter part of this article first, it has lots of history (from a slightly skewed point of view, imho.]
“Before there was NPR, there was Pacifica.
Its founder was Lewis Hill, a pacifist and conscientious objector in World War II (during which he was assigned to a work camp “moving rocks from one side of the road to the other,” as he later put it), along with his friends Eleanor McKinney and Richard Moore, a married couple. Their first application for an AM-band radio license in working-class Richmond was rejected by the FCC. And so it was that the first station, KPFA, was launched as an FM station in 1949 in the university town of Berkeley.
“They wanted it to be more of a popular station than what it became,” says Matthew Lasar, a former Pacifica volunteer, who has written two books about the network. “It became sort of a station for people around UC Berkeley.”
FM was so new that KPFA had to give subscribers FM radios in order to be heard at all.
Although Hill’s goal was to promote pacifism and civil liberties, the concept was to give both sides time — and foster robust debate. Emerging conservative leaders such as National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. and then–young Republican Caspar Weinberger were heard often. That changed when the McCarthy era set in, and Pacifica’s board of directors was dragged in front of a U.S. Senate subcommittee on subversive activities.
“They barely survived it, but once they did, their public justification was no longer ‘free speech for everyone,’ it was ‘the place where you hear the point of view you wouldn’t otherwise hear,’ ” Lasar says.
Pacifica flourished: KPFK launched in L.A. in 1959 (its 110,000-watt transmitter, perched atop Mount Wilson, is the most powerful antenna west of the Mississippi River; it can be heard to the Mexican border), followed by WBAI in New York in 1960, KPFT in Houston in 1970, and WPFW (devoted mostly to jazz) in Washington, D.C. in 1977.
Film critic Pauline Kael got her start at Pacifica, and philosopher Alan Watts had a show for two decades. Bob Dylan appeared frequently on WBAI, which became hugely influential.
“Much of what you hear on talk radio today, certainly Howard Stern, stems from the experiments and from the pioneering of WBAI,” Lasar says.
Pacifica pushed boundaries: In 1957 it broadcast a recording of Allan Ginsburg’s profane Beat Generation poem “Howl,” albeit in an awkwardly edited version. In 1973, WBAI broadcast George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” routine and was censured by the FCC. The dispute was resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Carlin’s sketch was indecent — but not obscene. A year later, the Symbionese Liberation Army delivered tape recordings of the kidnapped Patty Hearst to KPFA and KPFK. The FBI demanded that KPFK turn over the tapes, but general manager Will Lewis refused and was thrown in jail.
No other event shaped and galvanized Pacifica in the 1960s more than the Vietnam War. It opposed the war long before Walter Cronkite or any other mainstream media outlet. WBAI’s Chris Koch became the first American to cover the war from Hanoi in 1965, and the station later broadcast the Senate’s Watergate hearings gavel to gavel.
Pacifica’s decline in the late 1970s can be attributed to the end of the Vietnam war and the rise of NPR.
“National Public Radio was kind of a body blow to Pacifica,” Lasar says. “It was a more professional and less strident alternative.”
In Los Angeles, ousted KPFK program director Ruth Hirschman (now Ruth Seymour) built KCRW into a powerhouse. Many of Pacifica’s volunteer programmers were happy to let “corporate” NPR surpass them in listenership; Pacifica was “community radio.”
“The central underlying problem at Pacifica,” Marc Cooper says, “is that in the end, what dictates everything is the individual programmer’s desire to hold onto his or her airtime. Management has always been weak.”
Volunteer hosts with half-hour or hourlong weekly shows viewed them as their personal property. According to legend, one elderly activist tried to will away his time slot when he died.
But most paid news staff, like Cooper, as well as upper management, wanted to professionalize Pacifica and unite in one network. Satellites were becoming affordable enough for Pacifica to produce a network show and beam it to its stations and affiliates, as NPR was doing with All Things Considered.
Pacifica launched Pacifica National News, a national, half-hour newscast, and despite resistance from some stations, especially Berkeley, modernizers pushed ahead in 1996, launching Democracy Now!, an hourlong, guest-oriented show. First designed with a preposterously unwieldy structure, co-hosted by four anchors in four cities, it eventually was consolidated to its two current hosts: Juan González, a New York Daily News columnist, and WBAI’s talented news director, Amy Goodman.
Cooper has plenty of bitterness about Pacifica but saves his real vitriol for Goodman: “Amy’s an evil bitch. Amy would be perfect in the [New Jersey governor Chris] Christie administration. She’s a brass-knuckles fighter.”
The revolution began innocently enough. In the 1980s, tension grew between the modernizers and the local programmers, some of whom had been pushed out for new shows. Others feared they’d be next. It was NIMBY-ism, but with microphones.
In 1999, Pacifica CEO Lynn Chadwick fired KPFA Berkeley general manager Nicole Sawaya. When KPFA staffers asked Chadwick who was in charge, she replied, “I guess I will be for now.”
KPFA was the most insular and provincial station, highly resistant to change or centralization. “The Berkeley station is like an ethnic radio station,” Cooper says. “It speaks Berkeley to everybody with a ponytail and long hair.”
On the air, programmers openly revolted against Chadwick’s maneuver: Every hour they read a one-page statement denouncing Pacifica and calling for the rehire of Sawaya and another host.
Groups of dissident listeners began to form, and disgruntled ex-programmers sprang out of the woodwork, dubbing themselves the “banned and fired.”
Chadwick, to everyone’s amazement, shut down KPFA in Berkeley, had the staff removed by armed guards, cut the live transmitter feed and replaced it with archived shows from Pacifica. The first substituted content was Bus Riders Union founder Eric Mann giving a Marxist analysis of the 1960s.
Protests erupted. No fewer than three lawsuits were filed against the Pacifica board. Ten thousand people marched in Berkeley. Left-wing activists and commentators nationwide, including Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, rushed to KPFA’s defense.
“They create this sweeping narrative: ‘They’re going to corporatize Pacifica and sell off KPFA!’ ” Cooper says. “It’s really science fiction, and the left is so stupid that they bought into it.”
Lasar, however, says otherwise, citing an email that Pacifica National Board member Michael Palmer accidentally sent to an outside group, speculating about the sale of KPFA’s powerful radio signal and estimating it could net up to $75 million.
By now the revolution had spread. Cooper remembers walking up to the KPFK offices on Cahuenga Boulevard near Universal Studios, past a crowd of elderly protesters — “professional bottom-door activists with no life and nothing to do,” he calls them — who accused Cooper of being an agent for the CIA. One sign read, “More activists, less authors.” Cooper says: “That’s about one step removed from Pol Pot. It’s like, ‘Let’s kill everyone with glasses.’ ”
Websites sprang up like wildflowers — Save Pacifica, Save KPFA — three or four at some stations. The just-emerging Internet helped dissidents organize and raise money. They hired a campaign consultant, started a boycott that urged listeners to not pledge money to Pacifica — a threat to the network’s very survival — and demanded that the board resign, to be replaced by a democratically elected board.
Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman joined the fray, siding on the air with the revolutionaries, signing petitions and giving an open microphone to the boycott of the network that was paying her comparatively handsome salary. She essentially became the public face of a movement that was targeting board members and posting leaflets in their neighborhoods, which read: “Wanted for criminal theft of a radio station.”
“These [were] brownshirts,” Cooper says. “And Amy was their leader and she knew it. And I told that to her face: She can fool a lot of people a lot of the time, but I know she’s a thug.” (Goodman did not return several calls for comment.)
On Dec. 12, 2001, three months after the World Trade Center towers fell in New York City, the Pacifica board resigned and cut a deal with the revolutionaries — a legal settlement Lasar says led to “the most excruciatingly democratic bylaws in the history of broadcasting.”
The rebels now had control of an organization mired in chaos and millions of dollars in debt, much of it to lawyers. Bills would pile up higher as the new guard purged many old managers, who had to be given sizable settlements (according to one source, the KPFK general manager’s severance amounted to several hundred thousand dollars).
Hours before the settlement was approved, one of the plaintiffs called Lasar and said, “Matthew, the second-worst thing that could possibly happen has happened: We won.”
Within a few months, Democracy Now! was privatized. In what may have been a reward for Goodman’s support of the revolution, she was handed complete ownership of the show. For free. In fact, they paid her to take it, handing Goodman a contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — and gave her an automatic 4 percent raise every year, regardless of the size of her listenership or the money she raised.
According to former board member Tracy Rosenberg, Goodman now gets fees of around $650,000 for the right to air her show and for her fundraising services. Rosenberg says: “When you go to business school, they tell you that’s how not to sign a contract.”
Today, Pacifica’s debts amount to roughly $3 million; $2 million of that is owed to Democracy Now!, which is also the name of an independent nonprofit run by Goodman.
“Honestly, I get where she’s coming from,” says Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar. “Every journalist fantasizes about having their own media institution, and she pulled it off.” She adds that Goodman “fundraises tirelessly for Pacifica, for all five stations — sometimes simultaneously — on top of doing her own show. I have great admiration for her.”
Today, Democracy Now! is a worldwide brand; it has far more listeners via podcasting and syndication than Pacifica itself, which no longer produces any regular national programming.
Goodman may be Pacifica’s biggest creditor, but she’s far from the only drain on its finances. Board elections cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 — no small price for a network with a $13 million annual budget. The meetings themselves cost about $20,000 each to fly in 20-plus people and put them up for the weekend, and they’re dominated by bickering. Members regularly invoke Robert’s Rules of Order, and can take half an hour simply to approve the minutes of a previous meeting.
“All sorts of machinations come with that,” says elections supervisor Terry Bouricius. “Rather than seeking common ground, the goal is to embarrass and show up the other side rather than to accomplish something.”
Not even the board members can muster anything more than a tepid defense of Pacifica’s bizarre elections. “I’m 50-50 on that one,” influential board member Lydia Brazon says. “They’re costly. But it’s kind of a safety valve for [avoiding] a lawsuit.”
“The concept was noble,” says Bob Hennelly, but “governance is increasingly Byzantine and inward. Right at the time where Pacifica could be more globally relevant, it’s inwardly focused on itself.”
The station’s legal bills are prodigious. According to former board member Tracy Rosenberg, so many wrongful-termination claims have been filed against Pacifica over the last two decades that it pays $250,000 a year to insure against them, a staggering amount for an entity with just 130 employees. And then there’s WBAI, whose transmitter sits high atop the Empire State Building’s spire, at a cost of $50,000 a month.
Yet opportunities abound for Pacifica, probably the single most valuable asset the left has. Its five broadcasting licenses alone could be worth $50 million to $100 million, according to Lasar, and it owns a studio in Berkeley and another on an increasingly pricey stretch of Cahuenga Boulevard in Studio City. WBAI’s license is said to be particularly valuable, since it sits smack dab in the center of the dial at 99.5 FM — choice real estate in the radio industry.
“Right at the moment where satellite radio is booming, where the web is booming, where Pacifica has to worry about the future of terrestrial radio, all of this is lost,” Cooper says. “They’re consumed with eating themselves over a political fight, which in most cases is about continuing the status quo.”
Perhaps the most ominous hurdle lies with Pacifica’s listenership: It’s old.
“You must develop an audience on the other side of 50, or you won’t have a station,” Rosenberg says. “That’s a difficult thing for many Pacificans to get their head around. I get told all the time, ‘Young people don’t have any money, so don’t worry about them.’ I say, ‘Guys, you’re gonna care in 20 years!’ ”
Pacifica is still far to the left of anything else in mass media, and still gives voice to beliefs and ideas found outside the mainstream. It hasn’t changed; the world has.
Decades ago, the left called for Lyndon Johnson’s head. It was against Nixon, but also against Hubert Humphrey.
Today, those to the left of the Democratic Party have been relegated to the fringes — or perhaps they’ve relegated themselves, favoring new-age beliefs over science, seemingly invested in the idea that society is as bad off as it’s ever been.
Pacifica is only a reflection of that shift. It’s still far to the left of anything else in mass media, and still gives voice to beliefs and ideas found outside the mainstream (way outside).
That core ideology hasn’t changed; America has.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Sasha Futran as Sasha Sutran.”
Pacifica has a long and storied history, and still features such leading liberals as Amy Goodman, the widely known host of Democracy Now! (on which journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill are frequent guests), but it has fallen on hard times of late. Listenership, according Reese, is “extraordinarily low.” During an average 15-minute period, just 700 people listen to its Los Angeles station, 90.7 FM KPFK, for at least five minutes, according to Nielsen Audio, which monitors radio ratings.
For L.A.’s other public radio stations, KCRW and KPCC, that number is 8,000 and 20,000, respectively. KPFK draws roughly one one-thousandth of all radio listeners in the Metro Los Angeles area.
Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI, is even worse off, with too few listeners to register on the Arbitron rankings, and is all but bankrupt. Last year, most of the staff was laid off, including the entire news department.
Facebook and twitter followers will have heard me complain incessantly about the local NPR station’s pledge drives, which rather than what might think is the mutually beneficially arrangement of interspersing the pledge drive with listenable content like news updates, consist of nothing but people asking for money for days on end. (Does anyone listen to this for more than 3 minutes at time?) But, at least, we’re spared Alex Jones-caliber conspiracy theories:
The rest is here: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2014/03/nimby-ism-but-with-microphones
[I, Sue, still want to remind us all that Arbitrons are racist and classist, and don’t give a realistic look at what the “have-nots” are listening to. Plus at KPFK we are terrible at “branding’. Listeners focus on the particular show names and don’t always identify KPFK, Powered by the People. And the Arbitron ratings depend upon a few perfect matching names and slogans only.]