“Riding the waves at Pacifica radio, by Andrew Leslie Phillips 8/13
Andrew Leslie Phillips has written a short history of the Pacifica radio network, published below. He is interim general manager of Pacifica station KPFA in Berkeley, California.
Phillips is a native of Australia. He spent seven years in Papua New Guinea as a government patrol officer, radio journalist and filmmaker before coming to New York in 1975. He produced award-winning investigative radio documentaries on a wide range of environmental and political issues for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and for Pacifica station WBAI in New York City. He taught journalism, radio and “sound image” as an adjunct professor at New York University for 10 years.
The Pacifica foundation was founded in 1946 by poet and journalist Lewis Hill and a small group of pacifists, intellectuals and experienced radio people. They did not have the same political or economic philosophy but shared a vision which supported a peaceful world, social justice and creativity. ….
FM was a new, technology and Pacifica was backing the future, inventing an entirely new funding mechanism – the theory of listener sponsored radio. . . .
Equality of access to airtime has always been at the center of controversy at Pacifica and community radio everywhere. Most on-air people at Pacifica were not paid until the mid 1990’s. They volunteered and they made money to support the Foundation by pitching their programming on free-speech Pacifica radio. That was the deal. It was a tacit agreement – Pacifica provides opportunity and access whilst producers agreed to pitch and encourage on air pledges. By far the largest percentage of financial support for Pacifica still comes from listener donations.. . . ”
September 16 2015
Andrew Leslie Phillips [in a negative mood]: “I know many who follow this page [https://www.facebook.com/groups/PacRadioSupporters/] are, have been or aspire to “run” Pacifica but most of you are not qualified and there are too many of you on overcrowded ineffectual boards. I know why this clumsy governance system was originally implemented but it has not worked. We all know that now. Pacifica as an institution was always a tenuous affair but never more so than now. There seems little point to the institution any longer. The audience is old and growing older, the programming in most cases, second rate. Most information Pacifica carries is available elsewhere. Pacifica has been nit-picked to death by competing factions. I believe there maybe a place for individual stations to strike out on their own but the governance structure stands in the way of that. I spent some great years at WBAI (1979-1993) and in those days WBAI and Pacifica meant something. We did ground breaking programming and produced many fine producers, a lot of whom can now be heard on NPR (since there was no future even then at Pacifica, for talented broadcasters so they moved on). Amy Goodman may have been the best “thing” to come out of Pacifica (and Amy was forced out by noxious WBAI management) and when Amy say’s “From Pacifica” in her DemNow intro she is not really saying it as it is because DemNow comes “from Pacifica” only because Michael Yoshida at KPFA ensures DemNow get on the satellite on time every day. During my tenure at KPFA (2011-2013) I came to like and respect many in that community. But I too was skewered by some who came to disagree with me and manipulated me out of my position with unfounded accusations and deception. Unfortunately Pacifica under its current charter breeds a kind of Machiavellian environment and John Proffitt is just another victim.”