Below are some of my musings, taken from a private e-mail to a KPFK activist of long standing.I am a marginal KPFKer (although I do send them a little money monthly and listen to Ian Masters and a few other things somewhat sporadically). So my ideas may be ignorant or less than fully informed. But I have an idea and a question that may interest you. First the question:
Could (and I mean ‘is it financially and legally possible for’) KPFK [to] separate itself from Pacifica and own and operate the station independently, as an LA based foundation? I have gotten the impression in recent years that Pacifica Foundation has been overrun by people who have no realistic understanding of what it really takes to operate a public media resource. Maybe divorce is the best course of action. It’s pretty obvious, though, that this could well be either legally or financially completely impossible (or both). Ironically, the situation, from my outsider perspective, looks the opposite with regard to KPFA, where it was the relative sanity of Pacifica that had to deal with local lunatics who literally wrested physical control of the station, Cuba revolution style, despite having been voted out of power. (Do I have that right?) That kinda thing just won’t work in 21st Century corporate America. They’ll send in cops and take it back, eventually. And once that happens, it will be lost forever. *
And my other idea is this. We live in an oligarchy. We all know this. The rich control the resources, and without them, ordinary people have to struggle valiantly but will often lose anyway. As it applies to electronic media: but for the Joan B. Kroc Fellowship (you know, the one that created a nation of McRadio Stations), NPR probably would have been totally eviscerated by the Republicans and by its own special brand of infighting over scarce resources (instead of becoming simply a fourth mainstream propaganda outlet with all of her money, to which I imagine very significant strings were attached). (Personal note: I used to listen to NPR. Now, apart from “Wait, Wait, don’t tell me,” which I sometimes leave on on a Saturday morning, I can’t abide them. I haven’t sat through an entire hour of Morning Edition or ATC, even when traveling where there was nothing else on the car radio but Top 40, in years and years. Even Teri Gross is too much for me. It’s the sanctimony, partly, not to mention the CNN-like refusal to actually confront issues or call out lies. Even MSNBC does a better job).
So what about appealing to people like Pierce Brosnan, Richard Gere, hell, even George Lucas or David Geffen, to endow a reorganized and rationalized Pacifica foundation? It seems that the community funding model is finally failing, in this age of the disappeared middle class. There are a lot of relatively Progressive, very rich people in Siliconia and the LA Film/TV world. Some of these people, like Spielberg & Geffen who tried mightily to save the LA Times only to be outbid by a crooked and evil corporate raider (Sam Zell)– who would love to have some kind of public affairs legacy permanently associated with their name. Even if it meant calling it the Lucas Pacifica Foundation or some other horror. Might have to swallow that. If, and only if, actual independence could be written into the deal.
It would be a terrible tragedy to see Pacifica, and especially KPFK, lost to the media raptors. I’m sure Comcast would love to have a 100,000 watt FM station in L.A. But the current situation is so clearly unsustainable that people are going to have to sacrifice some sacred cows and make some major changes if the institution is to survive. One of those sacred cows could be the cumbersome governance, and another may be that there would have to be a somewhat more uniform standard of professionalism and “objectivity.” I know that’s a landmine, but the fact is that many people perceive KPFK and especially KPFA to be powerful radio stations mostly dominated by people in the near lunatic fringe. My experience is that that is far from true (usually), but that IS a common perception among the hordes of Hillary supporter types. And they MUST be part of KPFK’s audience or the station can’t survive.
BTW, requiring quota of returned listener ballots is NOT efficient governance. I would suggest democratic election of a board by the volunteers, which could be anyone who ASKS to be included; and the winners would be determined by straightforward vote counts, not complicated formulas no one understands and which cause people to just not vote so that particular motivated interests get undue representation.”
* my response: ‘
I’m not sure which struggle you’re referring to when you said that ‘Pacifica’ wrested back physical control of KPFA.
In the most recent struggle, last St. Patrick’s day, a year ago, the fired exec. dir. occupied the National office using bolt cutters.
There is a contentious and very narrow margin of control of the Pacifica National Board. Close to half support each side and claim legitimacy of control.
So which side do you mean by Pacifica and by ‘local’.
I have always urged that National control should be limited to almost nothing, without affect.
Maybe things are so dire now that something will happen, but I don’t know what.
We need a Gorbachev maybe.’ Sue Cohen Johnson
Bates, Minsky, LePique