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Pacifica Radio: Let’s talk about the debt

April 17, 2021 Share

Welcome to KPFA. Station headquarters are located at 1929 Martin Luther King Jr Way in Berkeley. KPFA invented listener-sponsored radio – and listener-governed radio.

by Ann Garrison

In early June, listener subscribers and staff of the Pacifica Radio Network’s five nonprofit metropolitan stations, KPFA-Berkeley, KPFK-Los Angeles, KPFT-Houston, WBAI-New York City, and WPFW-Washington D.C., will receive ballots to vote on yet another new set of bylaws that would largely do away with its democratic governance structure. The first attempt to do this was resoundingly defeated at the end of March one year ago. This time ballots will go out during the first week of June, and most subscribers and staff will choose to vote online. The network also includes 200 smaller affiliate stations, whose staff and listener subscribers will not be included in this election, but who have two representatives on the Pacifica National Board. 

The first attempt to do this was resoundingly defeated at the end of March one year ago. This time ballots will go out during the first week of June, and most subscribers and staff will choose to vote online.

As a longtime Pacifica programmer and listener, I am as adamantly opposed to this new bylaws proposal as I was to the last – first and foremost because it would disenfranchise the two East Coast stations, WPFW-Washington, D.C., and WBAI-New York City, which have the largest Black audiences, and give disproportionate power to my own station, KPFA-Berkeley. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Margaret Kimberley, airs on both WBAI and WPFW but not on KPFT-Houston, KPFK-Los Angeles or KPFA-Berkeley, which is not to say I haven’t suggested airing it on KPFA.

My other reasons for opposing these bylaws is that they are fundamentally undemocratic and that they will lop off Pacifica programmers’ anti-imperialist wing. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Pacifica was a radical, antiwar, anti-imperialist network, perhaps most admired when WBAI sent the first American reporter to broadcast from North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Today, however, much of Pacifica has – like the rest of what now passes for the left – given way to identity politics, Democratic Party politics, Trump Derangement Syndrome and even national security state narratives. I wrote ab

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