Category Archives: Pacifica

Articles & Audio: Greg Guma of Vermont was CEO of Pacifica


Burlington resident for 40+ years; member, Burlington Telecom Advisory Board; and mayoral candidate in 2015… editor, business owner, author and civic leader; former Pacifica Radio CEO & Editor of Toward Freedom, Vermont Guardian, Vanguard Press, Public Occurrence, and Vintage.  And he writes about Bernie Sanders as he progressed.

Audio 12 mins.:


How WBAI came to be:

Article: KPFK and Pacifica National Board member Don White passed 2008


I knew Don White primarily in his capacity as a member of the Pacifica National Board, and I was always struck by how up-front and genuine he was. In Board activities, he had a knack for disagreeing without being disagreeable. In conversations, he was charming and kind. It was several months later that I learned about Don’s other activism and his connections with progressive and radical movements throughout the hemisphere. He was a great guy, and his passing is a sad loss to us.


On corporate underwriting, Ralph Engelman, Pacifica radio, WBAI, and on satirical cartoons


Ralph Engelman

Chair, Journalism DepartmentSenior Professor of Journalism & Communication StudiesFaculty Coordinator, George Polk Awards; Faculty Athletics Representative; Administrator, Theodore E. Kruglak Fellowship in International Reporting.
B.A., Earlham CollegeM.A., Washington UniversityPh.D., Washington University

Dr. Ralph Engelman is Senior Professor and Chair of Journalism & Communication Studies at LIU Brooklyn, where he has received the top awards given by LIU for scholarship and teaching: the Abraham Krasnoff Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement and the David Newton Award for Excellence in Teaching.  He is faculty coordinator of LIU’s George Polk Awards.
He serves as journalism consultant and member of the academic advisory board for the Archive of American Television, a digital history project of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. In this capacity he has conducted long-form interviews with Morley Safer, Sidney Lumet and Geraldo Rivera, among others.  Since 1980, he has been a participant in the Summer Fulbright Institute on the Civilization of the United States, Multinational Institute of American Studies, New York University.

Dr. Engelman is a former member of the board of directors of the Pacifica Foundation, which operates five community radio stations.  He is also a former moderator of  Reporter Roundtable, BCAT, carried on Time Warner, Cablevision and RCN in the New York metropolitan area.  [Pacifica does not operate the 5 stations and 180 affiliates, it owns the licenses and the stations even when they were built by the local stations-SCJ]

Professor Engelman is the author of  “Friendlyvision: Fred Friendly and the Rise and Fall of Television Journalism,” with an Introduction by Morley Safer (NY: Columbia University Press, 2009) and  “Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History” (Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996).  His “The Origins of Public Access Cable Television,” Journalism Monographs (No. 123, October 1990), has been translated into Japanese and Portuguese.

Ralph Engelman


Pacifica National Board passed the following with amendments 6/13/15


Taskforce Motion:
The SLTF urges the IED to direct GMs now to institute the Spanish Language Programming motion and to request a plan of action from GMs by March 15 and implementation by April 15, 2015.

Amendment to be made at the in-person meeting:
The date of action for this motion having passed, move to amend the date for the plan of action

1.    Time : after 6 am and before 9 pm
2.    By the PNB June 2015 meeting to be fully noticed to all radio station managers and PDs
3.    New Spanish language programming committees to be develop right after, no later than 1 week after PNB meeting AT ALL radio signals. Managers make the call for the formation of such committees thru PSAs, websites and thru community forums and organizations.
4.    To be implemented no later than Monday August 31 2015
5.    Be national, to say each radio station should have it
6.    “each weekday in the Spanish language” at least 5 hours additional to existing Spanish Language programming (some radio signals do not have any).
7.    New programming will vary according to the radio signal demographic and geographic, conditions, per example, in Los Angeles might be added to the existing strip of programming, in Washington (if no programming in Spanish is offered at this time) might have to be only at weekends (strips or blocks of programming)  or at any given best day during the week, so each station will decide as long as it is after 6 am and before 9 pm
8.    Each radio have to develop a committee (collectives) in charge of such programming and report to the PNB’s task force as to guarantee that such programming will be permanent.
9.    Brief introduction in English might be considered at certain signals.
10.      Must take in account women, African descent communities, programming for youth and by youth, indigenous, activists, alternative music or art programming, environmental issues, political movements around the continent or the world etc. alternative Health programming, Chicano Mexicano programming as well as Puerto Rican resistance, Central or south American issues, inmigration issues, black liberation movements. white supremacy, gender, race, neo colonialism, culture/art,  poverty, etc. news from all over Latin America with stringers in the USA as well as from Latin America and the Caribbean.
11.    Pacifica outreach committees must develop in coordination with the Spanish Language task force,  management and programming committees a well prepared promotional plan for such new programming as to guarantee self sustainability as much as possible.
12.    Management,  LSBs and parties involved will develop community forums with their respective communities to get the word out.
13.    IF there is any radio signal that needs programming because no collectives are formed yet, such programming can be elaborated and provided by other collectives from sister signals.
14.    National meetings to be planned among Spanish language programmers to be in well coordination and maintain programs improving.
15.    Every new programmer and volunteers MUST be totally willing to raise funds, work in collectives and be part of the of the National Association of Spanish Language programmers and volunteers which will be created to keep always good communications among the new programs.
16.    Existing programmers to provide workshops as needed for those collectives in need.

Audio: Barbara Jordan covered on Pacifica


Barbara Charline Jordan (February 21, 1936 – January 17, 1996) was an American politician and a leader of the Civil Rights movement. A Democrat, she was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the first southernblack female elected to the United States House of Representatives, and the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous other honors. She was a member of the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors from 1978 to 1980.[1] On her death, she became the first African-American woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery.[2]


Pacifica National Board meeting in LA, part of the schedule (Sat.?)



PNB motions:   Motion #2
The PNB Programming Committee recommends to the PNB that all action on the creation of “Program Councils” pursuant to a previous motion from the Programming Committee to the PNB, be held until after the Committee is able to receive and review information about station program operations (pursuant to motion passed by the Committee on 12/19/14) and provides recommendations to the PNB.

The provision of said feedback to the PNB will be a priority of the Committee and our expectation is that the report will be sent to the PNB by March 13, 2015.
Old Program Council Motion approved by 2012 PNB [Bolding of keywords in an attempt to enhance readability added by me, Sue}
The PNB directs the executive director to set up Program Councils as management committees, at each station.
The composition of the committee shall consist of 1/3 staff, selected by stv election, 1/3 members of the LSB, also selected by an stv election, and 1/3 listeners, approved jointly by the LSB and the Program Director by a procedure satisfactory to both.  Terms shall be for the maximum of 2 years, or for an LSB member, the term on the LSB, whichever is less.
The Program Councils shall serve to provide a collaborative nexus between the board, the listeners, the staff and the management of the station for the purpose of implementing the programming policies of the LSB and PNB.  Specifically, they shall have the power to review programs and vet new programs, including for compliance with the mission, and recommend changes to schedules. They shall also provide for adjudication of programming issues arising between programmers and management, where no other means of doing so exists.   They will set their own agendas in these regards.
Program directors will serve as non voting ex-officio members of the Program Councils.  The Programming Councils are charged with making recommendations to the Program Director.  If the program director declines to act on such recommendations, he/she shall report his/her reasons and respond to dialogue on the issue from the Council.  Such dialogue shall be made widely available to the listeners.  If consensus cannot be reached on a course of action between the Program Director and a majority of the Council, the Council can appeal the decision to the GM with a vote of 2/3 of its members.
All meetings of the Program Council will be in public session, with the exception of those that are required to be in Executive Session by the Pacifica Bylaws. The Council shall determine by majority vote whether any given meeting must be held as an Executive session.
(Passed in committee 7-0.)
Public Comment 10 minutes
12 noon Lunch
1 pm Board reconvenes

Spanish Language Task Force – 15 min.
Taskforce Motion:
The SLTF urges the IED to direct GMs now to institute the Spanish Language Programming motion and to request a plan of action from GMs by March 15 and implementation by April 15, 2015.
Amendment to be made at the in-person meeting:
The date of action for this motion having passed, move to amend the date for the plan of action
1.    Time : after 6 am and before 9 pm
2.    By the PNB June 2015 meeting to be fully noticed to all radio station managers and PDs
3.    New Spanish language programming committees to be develop right after, no later than 1 week after PNB meeting AT ALL radio signals. Managers make the call for the formation of such committees thru PSAs, websites and thru community forums and organizations.
4.    To be implemented no later than Monday August 31 2015
5.    Be national, to say each radio station should have it
6.    “each weekday in the Spanish language” at least 5 hours additional to existing Spanish Language programming (some radio signals do not have any).
7.    New programming will vary according to the radio signal demographic and geographic, conditions, per example, in Los Angeles might be added to the existing strip of programming, in Washington (if no programming in Spanish is offered at this time) might have to be only at weekends (strips or blocks of programming)  or at any given best day during the week, so each station will decide as long as it is after 6 am and before 9 pm
8.    Each radio have to develop a committee (collectives) in charge of such programming and report to the PNB’s task force as to guarantee that such programming will be permanent.
9.    Brief introduction in English might be considered at certain signals.
10.      Must take in account women, African descent communities, programming for youth and by youth, indigenous, activists, alternative music or art programming, environmental issues, political movements around the continent or the world etc. alternative Health programming, Chicano Mexicano programming as well as Puerto Rican resistance, Central or south American issues, inmigration issues, black liberation movements. white supremacy, gender, race, neo colonialism, culture/art,  poverty, etc. news from all over Latin America with stringers in the USA as well as from Latin America and the Caribbean.
11.    Pacifica outreach committees must develop in coordination with the Spanish Language task force,  management and programming committees a well prepared promotional plan for such new programming as to guarantee self sustainability as much as possible.
12.    Management,  LSBs and parties involved will develop community forums with their respective communities to get the word out.
13.    IF there is any radio signal that needs programming because no collectives are formed yet, such programming can be elaborated and provided by other collectives from sister signals.
14.    National meetings to be planned among Spanish language programmers to be in well coordination and maintain programs improving.
15.    Every new programmer and volunteers MUST be totally willing to raise funds, work in collectives and be part of the of the National Association of Spanish Language programmers and volunteers which will be created to keep always good communications among the new programs.
16.    Existing programmers to provide workshops as needed for those collectives in need.

KPFK, Pacifica, informative, and some embarrassing articles


KPFK LSB committees members


By a loyal Volunteer:
Just wanted to remind folk that ANYONE can attend and JOIN any LSB committee.  You do NOT need to be an elected LSB member to be invited to join the membership of a committee.
Committee membership is regulated by the chair and LSB member of the given committee.
The easiest way to join a committee is to attend the very first committee meeting after the beginning of a new calendar year.
A Volunteer asked me about this the other day so it occurred to me that we need to remind listeners and staff members that they can attend, and often join any LSB committee.
The next Finance Committee meeting is at the station at 7:00pm on Tuesday the 16th.


KPFK plays D.T. Suzuki

'Which do you think it is?  #Liars'
  • In accordance with restrictions specified in this section, the following synthetic substances may be used in organic crop production: Provided, That, use of such substances do not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water. Substances allowed by this section, except disinfectants and sanit…

Links: Fairness Doctrine struck down in 1987, & Equal Time Rule


The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.[1]

The equal-time rule specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it. This means, for example, that if a station gives one free minute to a candidate in prime time, it must do the same for another candidate who requests it. The equal-time rule was created because the FCC thought the stations could easily manipulate the outcome of elections by presenting just one point of view, and excluding other candidates. It should not be confused with the now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, which dealt with presenting balanced points of view on matters of public importance.

There are four exceptions to the equal-time rule. If the airing was within a documentary, bona fide news interview, scheduled newscast or an on-the-spot news event, the equal-time rule does not apply. Since 1983, political debates not hosted by the media station are considered “news events,” and as a result, are not subject to the rule. Consequently, these debates may include only major-party candidates without having to offer air time to minor-party or independent candidates. Talk shows and other regular news programming from syndicators, such as Entertainment Tonight, are also declared exempt from the rule by the FCC on a case-by-case basis. [1]

This rule originated in §18 of the Radio Act of 1927; it was later superseded by the Communications Act of 1934. A related provision, in §315(b), requires that broadcasters offer time to candidates at the same rate as their “most favored advertiser”.


Featured on Pacifica, Danny Schechter has passed

Sad news, Independent filmmaker, Author and Media Critic Danny Schechter has passed away.

“That is definitely Johnny [Clegg] next to Danny. Here’s what he just wrote on my FB page about Danny: “‘So sorry to hear of the passing of Danny. He was a great strategist and friend of South Africa during the dark days of Apartheid and his contribution in aiding the formation of the South African Musicians’Alliance and other progressive cultural organizations is remembered with appreciation. Later in his career he was a brilliant media analyst and fighter for alternative communication platforms, promoting a media free from money and political interests. He will be sorely missed. Hamba kahle Danny.'”  In photo below: 1 unk., JohnnyClegg, DannySchecter, 4 unknown


Independent filmmaker. Author. Blogger. Media Critic.

READ DANNY’S LATEST BOOK, When South Africa Called. Free pdf download of the complete book at

'READ DANNY'S LATEST BOOK, When South Africa Called. Free pdf download of the complete book at'F

“…From there it was on to Cornell, Syracuse, the London School of Economics, and Harvard as a Neiman Fellow. But this is only a small part of his life’s journey. He joined the Northern Student Movement in high school and became actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement, going down to Mississippi in 1964. He became a leader in the movement to end the Vietnam War, was a member of SDS and began a lifelong commitment to South Africa in 1967 as an original member of the “London Recruits.” He fought tirelessly against Apartheid from then on. Danny never hesitated to put his convictions on the line.      In the 1970s, he turned back to his first love—journalism–and became the “news dissector” at radio station WBCN in Boston. He wove news and music together in collages that not only reported the day’s events but also helped explain how the world worked. He was a huge influence on those who valued his independent perspective—and trusted him. He went on to become a prolific, Emmy award-winning TV producer and filmmaker, who made “South Africa Now”, 6 films about Mandela, and spent decades criticizing and cajoling the media to do a better job covering the news. He interviewed Bob Dylan. He walked with Jesse Jackson. He embraced the Dali Lama. Malcolm X nicknamed him “Danny X….”

KPFT’s PD Ernesto Aguilar article on Truthout about Pacifica



Ernesto Aguilar is program director for Pacifica’s Houston station KPFT. He also sits on the board of directors of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, the country’s largest and oldest network of  community media outlets.

Here’s a quote from Melody Kramer: “A key to fostering new connections may be finding ways that create lifelong associations that don’t start with money, she remarks. Inevitably new listeners may give, but there has to be a hook that gets them interested. Self-identifying with non-commercial media listening creates its own form of community, Kramer points out, and social experiences with others have many appeals. “For people not into the bar scene and who aren’t religious, there are not a lot of options,” [Melody] Kramer adds. “Public broadcasters can make spaces where listeners can be involved, almost as cruise ship directors, connecting people and extracting themselves.”



Text: Lew Hill & the Theory Behind Public Radio


Because it is so long, I took the following essay by Lew Hill and bolded what in my opinion are the key words, in order to facilitate my understanding of it.  If you don’t need it please try to ignore it.


Lew Hill and the Theory Behind Public Radio

While studying at Stanford University in 1937, Lew Hill became interested in the ideas of the Quakers and became a pacifist. When he was drafted in 1941, he registered as a conscientious objector. In 1945, Hill resigned from his job as a Washington DC correspondent and moved to California, where he founded the Pacifica Foundation. He served as Pacifica’s head until he died in 1957.

Listener sponsorship is an answer to the practical problem of getting better radio programs and keeping them. But it involves, as a theory of radio, an analysis of the problem as well as an answer to it. The theory advances not only an economic innovation for broadcasting but an interpretation of the facts of life in American radio. And actually it begins in a concern with some of the facts of life in general.

I imagine we can agree that if a sound is worth passing through the magnificent apparatus of a microphone, a transmitter, and your receiving set, it ought to convey some meaningful intelligence. There are innumerable ways of wasting time and generating nonsense, and there are also uncounted ways of making money, many of which may be pursued in broad daylight. But the elaborate machinery and the peculiar intimacy of the radio medium have better and more basic uses. The theory I want to discuss rests on two particular assumptions: first, that radio can and should be used for significant communication and art; and second, that since broadcasting is an act of communication, it ought to be subject to the same aesthetic and ethical principles as we apply to any communicative act, including the most personal. Of course we know that in American radio many obstacles stand in the way of these principles. When I have examined some of the obstacles, I shall try to indicate briefly how listener sponsorship offers a means of surmounting them.

What does stand in the way?

When we ask this question we usually think at once of the advertiser or of the mass audience. We feel that one or both of these demonological figures must account for the mediocrity and exploitation which on the whole signify radio in the United States. And since, as we know, no one can reform the advertiser or confer with the inscrutable mass, we are more or less accustomed to thinking of improvement as utopian.

We seem generally to ignore, when we criticize radio, the moment and situation in which someone actually broadcasts. I refer to the person who actually opens his mouth or plays his fiddle. I mean to include also the individual who holds the stop watch, the one who writes the script, and perhaps the man who controls the switch. And I am definitely referring to these individuals as individuals–for after all, willing or not, they have that dimension. Now these are the people who actually start the production that comes out at the other end. Even if someone else has decided why there should be a broadcast and what should be in it, these are the people who make it. Yet we never hear these people mentioned in any serious social or moral criticism of American radio. They do not appear in the demonologies of the advertiser and the mass. They constitute most of the radio industry, but are perhaps the last people we would think of in trying to place the fundamental responsibility for what radio does.

This curious fact reveals more about the problem than any number of surveys of public taste and advertising venality. And this is the point at which our theory has to begin. We start with the forgotten man of broadcasting–the man who broadcasts.

Let me instance the announcer, not only to seize the simplest case, but because he will serve as the gross symbol for the writer, the musician, and all who try to make a living in the program end of radio. You will recall without difficulty, I hope, this fellow’s nightly solicitude toward your internal organs. In his baritone way he makes a claim on your attention and faith which few of your closest friends would venture. I know of no better explanation of this man’s relation to you, to his utterances, his job, and his industry, than one of the time-honored audition tests given to applicants for announcing jobs at certain of the networks. The test consists of three or four paragraphs minutely constructed to avoid conveying any meaning. The words are familiar, and every sentence is grammatically sound, but the text is gibberish. The applicant is required to read this text in different voices, as though it meant different things: with solemnity and heavy sincerity, with lighthearted humor, and of course with “punch.” If his judges award him the job and turn him loose on you, he has succeeded on account of an extraordinary skill in simulating emotions, intentions and beliefs which he does not possess. In fact the test was especially designed to assure that nothing in the announcer’s mind except the sound of his voice–no comprehension, no value, no choice, and above all no sense of responsibility–could possibly enter into what he said or what he sounded like. This is the criterion of his job.

The significance of this situation is strangely neglected, as I have said, although the commonplaces of industrial life that best explain it are much discussed. We all know, for example, that the purpose of commercial radio is to induce mass sales. For mass sales there must be a mass norm, and the activity must be conducted as nearly as possible without risk of departure from the norm. But art and the communication of ideas–as most of us also appreciate–are risky affairs, for it can never be predicted in those activities just when the purely individual and abnormal may assert itself. Indeed to get any real art or any significant communication, one must rely entirely on individuals, and must resign himself to accept not only their uniqueness but the possibility that the individual may at any time fail. By suppressing the individual, the unique, the industry reduces the risk of failure (abnormality) and assures itself a standard product for mass consumption.

We know these commonplaces, but it is truly staggering to contemplate what they imply and cause in American radio. Should you inquire why there is no affinity between the serious arts and radio, you will find that this is the reason.

America is well supplied with remarkably talented writers, musicians, philosophers, and scientists whose work will survive for some centuries. Such people have no relation whatever to our greatest communication medium. I have been describing a fact at the level of the industry’s staff; it is actually so notorious in the whole tradition and atmosphere of our radio that it precludes anyone of serious talent and reasonable sanity from offering material for broadcast, much less joining a staff. The country’s best minds, like one mind, shun the medium unless the possessor of one happens to be running for office. Yet if we want an improvement in radio worth the trouble, it is these people whose talent the medium must attract. The basic situation of broadcasting must be such that artists and thinkers have a place to work–with freedom. Short of this, the suffering listener has no out.

It may be clearer why I indicated at the outset that listener sponsorship involves some basic concerns. This is the first problem it sets out to solve–to give the genuine artist and thinker a possible, even a desirable, place to work in radio.

Unfortunately it will not do to go halfway in the effort. Many have tried. The story of American radio is sprinkled with episodes in which some ambitious producer, momentarily out of touch with reality, has tried. These episodes remind me of someone’s recent comment about purchasing a house under the Federal Housing Administration. This, he explains, is a system which makes it possible to convert an imaginary equity into a vested illusion. There are still in the industry many a frustrated idealist, many an embittered artist, whose last efforts foundered in the sales department, but who hope someday to own a program. Since our first object is to avoid that chronic industrial frustration, we have to give a somewhat elementary interpretation to the idea of freedom in radio.

The answer of the KPFA project on this point is not necessarily the only good answer, but it is explicit. It requires that the people who actually do the broadcasting should also be responsible for what and why they broadcast. In short, they must control the policy which determines their actions. If I may, I will emphasize that neither a “Public Be Damned” nor a “Down with Commerce” attitude enters into this formulation. The problem was, you remember, not whether you as a listener should choose what you like or agree with–as obviously you should and do–but how to get some genuinely significant choices before you. Radio which aims to do that must express what its practitioners believe to be real, good, beautiful, and so forth, and what they believe is truly at stake in the assertion of such values. For better or worse these are matters like the nature of the deity which cannot be determined by majority vote or a sales curve. Either some particular person makes up his mind about these things and learns to express them for himself, or we have no values or no significant expression of them. Since values and expressions as fundamental as this are what we must have to improve radio noticeably, there is no choice but to begin by extending to someone the privilege of thinking and acting in ways important to him. Whatever else may happen, we thus assign to the participating individual the responsibility, artistic integrity, freedom of expression, and the like, which in conventional radio are normally denied him. KPFA is operated literally on this principle.

Well, then, who in present-day America might be expected to permit such a broadcasting group to earn a living at it, and on what terms?

You already know the answer that KPFA proposes, and you may have wondered why I choose to present it as a theory, as though there were alternatives to listener sponsorship. Certainly when we develop the idea of broadcasting to this point, the listener is the only one discernible who has a real stake in the outcome. But while that may be an adequate reason for a subscription plan, I think there is a better and more rewarding one.

I have already examined the problem of getting the creative product on radio before we worry about how it is to be evaluated. It must have occurred to you that such a principle could easily revert to the fabled ivory tower. Some self-determining group of broadcasters might find that no one, not the least minority of the minority audiences, gave a hang for their product, morally responsible or not. What then? Then, you will say, there would be no radio station–or not for long–and the various individualists involved could go scratch for a living. But it is the reverse possibility that explains what is most important about listener sponsorship. When we imagine the opposite situation, we are compelled to account for some conscious flow of influences, some creative tension between broadcaster and audience that constantly reaffirms their mutual relevance. Listener sponsorship will require this mutual stimulus if it is to exist at all.

KPFA’s present air schedule is a modest example. It embraces four main categories–music, drama and literature, public affairs, and children’s programs. The schedule has two sources in almost equal balance as to their importance and influence. On the one hand, these happen to be subjects of primary interest to people working at KPFA. On the other hand, they happen also to represent the articulate interests of well-defined minorities in the audience of the San Francisco Bay Area. The correspondence is not accidental. A constant exchange between the staff and the audience enriches the schedule with fresh judgment and new ideas, materials, and issues. Thus members of the staff work out their own ideas and, if you like, categorical imperatives, with some of the undistracted certitude one feels in deciding what he will have for dinner, subject to the menu. Listener sponsorship makes possible this extremely productive balance of interests and initiatives.

The fact that the subscription is voluntary merely enlarges the same point. We make a considerable step forward, it seems to me, when we use a system of broadcasting which promises that the mediocre will not survive. But the significance of what does survive increases in ways of the profoundest import to our times when it proceeds from voluntary action. Anyone can listen to a listener-sponsored station. Anyone can understand the rationale of listener sponsorship–that unless the station is supported by those who value it, no one can listen to it including those who value it. This is common sense. But beyond this, actually sending in the subscription, which one does not have to send in unless one particularly wants to, implies the kind of cultural engagement, as some French philosophers call it, that is surely indispensable for the sake of the whole culture. When we have a radio station fully supported by subscribers who have not responded to a special gift offer, who are not participating in a lottery, who have not ventured an investment at 3 per cent, but who use this means of supporting values that seem to them of basic and lasting importance–then we will have more than a subscription roster. It will amount, I think, to a new focus of action or a new shaping influence that can hardly fail to strengthen all of us.

We are concerned, of course, with a supplemental form of radio. Listener sponsorship is not a substitute for the commercial industry. But in every major metropolitan area of the country there is room for such an undertaking. I believe we may expect that if these theories and high hopes can be confirmed soundly in a pilot experiment, the idea will not be long in spreading.

KPFA happens to be the pilot experiment. No one there imagines he is the artist or thinker whose talent ultimately must be attracted to radio. KPFA is the beginning of a tradition to make that possible. The survival of this station is based upon the necessity of voluntary subscriptions from 2 per cent of the total FM audience in the area in which it operates. We are hoping to succeed for several reasons, not the least among which is the realization that our success may inspire others to experiment for the eventual betterment of the broadcast product.

From “The Exacting Ear: The Story of Listener-Sponsored Radio, and an Anthology of Programs from KPFA, KPFK, and WBAI”, edited by Eleanor McKinney with a preface by Erich Fromm, published by Pantheon Books. Copyright 1966 by Pacifica Foundation.

Pacifica Mission as extracted from the By-laws


Pacifica Mission Statement

KPFK and Pacifica are founded upon a Mission Statement which to this day remains unique in radio broadcasting:THE PACIFICA FOUNDATION RADIO MISSION STATEMENT

(a) 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. [*]

(b) To establish and operate for educational purposes, in such manner that the facilities involved shall be as nearly self-sustaining as possible, one or more radio broadcasting stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and subject in their operation to the regulatory actions of the Commission under the Communications Act of 1934, As Amended.

(c) In radio broadcasting operations to encourage and provide outlets for the creative skills and energies of the community; to conduct classes and workshops in the writing and producing of drama; to establish awards and scholarships for creative writing; to offer performance facilities to amateur instrumentalists, choral groups, orchestral groups and music students; and to promote and aid other creative activities which will serve the cultural welfare of the community.

(d) In radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and dissemiate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms.

(e) In radio broadcasting operations to promote the full distribution of public information; to obtain access to sources of news not commonly brought together in the same medium; and to employ such varied sources in the public presentation of accurate, objective, comprehensive news on all matters vitally affecting the community.

* Article II Subsection (a) was amended March 6, 1971, filed April 9, 1971, and corrected amendment filed May 5, 1971.

See also, Lew Hill’s Theory of Listener Sponsored Radio

Audio KPFA Pacifica Interview of President Peter Frank


When Pacifica created the position of President, it transferred power to National, as this hierarchical culture assumes that the central  is the top power, the ones assumed to be superior, not remembering how they came to be created.  The National helped to facilitate license legalities, but it transformed the shape of Pacifica.

Past President of Pacifica Peter Frank reiterated my assertion that deregulating and leasing our subcarriers, with the income set up to go to National Office, vastly shifted the balance of power from the stations to National.


Text: Pacifica History dates


about 10 pages:

Pacifica History: Overview

Pacifica 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.

1946 Lewis Hill moves from Washington DC to the San Francisco Bay Area and begins work toward creating an alternative radio station.

1949 Pacifica first goes on the air April 15 as KPFA-FM in Berkeley CA.

1950 Opponents to the Korean war are among the many minority viewpoints given freedom of speech on Pacifica during the McCarthy era.

1951 Pacifica receives the first major foundation grant (Ford Founda- tion) for the support of a non-commercial broadcast operation.

1952 Jazz aficionado Phil Elwood debuts on KPFA, making him today the longest-running jazz programmer in the country.

1953 Philosopher/author Alan Watts begins a regular program on KPFA that continues until his death in 1973.

1954 An on-the-air discussion of the effects of marijuana results in the California Attorney General impounding the program tape.

1955 Poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti bring the Beat Generation to the airwaves. A few years later the FCC questions Pacifica’s broadcast of some of their works as “vulgar, obscene and in bad taste.”

1956 Pacifica wins its first broadcast awards for a program on the First Amendment by Alexander Meiklejohn and a children’s series of _Robin Hood_ by Chuck Levy and Virginia Maynard.

1957 Pacifica/KPFA wins its first George Foster Peabody Award for “distinguished service and meritorious public service” for programming that takes strong issue with McCarthyism.

1958 Nuclear war and the arms race are debated on the air by Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling and Edward Teller, the “Father of the H-Bomb.”

1959 Pacifica begins its second station–KPFK-FM in Los Angeles–with Terry Drinkwater as General Manager.

1960-1963 The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS) investigate Pacifica programming for “subversion.” Suspected writers include Bertolt Brecht, Norman Cousins, Carey McWilliams, Dorothy Healey, and W.E.B. DuBois.

1960 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requests a tape of a Pacifica broadcast of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti that it found “in bad taste” with “strong implications against religion, government, the president, law-enforcement and racial groups”– and demands full information on Pacifica finances and governance.

1960 Commercial station WBAI in New York is given to Pacifica by philanthropist Louis Schweitzer. Then- Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Mayor Robert Wagner, Jr. and Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz are among the speakers honoring the first day of Pacifica Radio in New York. Early programs include a documentary on George Lincoln Rockwell and a speech by Herbert Aptheker. The SISS requests files of WBAI programs and program guides.

1961 KPFK wins Pacifica’s second George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting.

1962 KPFK broadcasts women’s history profiles of Dorothy healey and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn–programs that are later used in SISS Hearings charging Pacifica is communist infiltrated.

1962 WBAI is the first station to publicly broadcast former FBI agent Jack Levine’s expose of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. The program is followed by threats of arrests and bombings, as well as pressure from the FBI, the Justice Department, and major broadcast networks.

1962 The FCC withholds the license renewals of KPFA, KPFB, and KPFK pending its investigation into “communist affiliations.” Pacifica was never ultimately cited in any of these or subsequent investi- gations.

1962 Pacifica trains volunteers to travel to the South for coverage of the awakening civil rights movement. Andrew Goodman, son of the Pacifica president, is murdered in Mississippi with Michael Schwerner and James Cheney.

1963 I. F. Stone and Bertrand Russell take to the Pacifica airwaves, leading a long list of luminaries to oppose the war in Vietnam at this early stage of direct U.S. involvement.

1964 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) renews the licenses of all three Pacifica stations after a three-year delay.

1965 WBAI reporter Chris Koch is the first American to cover the war from North Vietnam.

1966 Leaders of organizations such as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) discuss the future of civil rights over Pacifica stations.

1967 Pacifica broadcasts a live interview with Latin American leader Che Guevara months before he is killed in Bolivia.

1968 Pacifica Radio News (originally the Washington News Bureau of WBAI/New York) is established in Washington DC.

1969 Pacifica is the only news organization willing to break Seymour Hersh’s story of the My Lai massacre. Hersh later wins the Pulitzer Prize for exposing the atrocities committed by U.S. troops in Vietnam.

1970 KPFT in Houston goes on the air and is bombed off twice during its first year by Ku Klux Klan attacks on its transmitter tower. After months of inactivity by federal agents and Houston police, Pacifica mounts a media campaign. Federal agents ultimately arrest a Klansman and charge him with plotting to blow up KPFA and KPFK, as well as the actual KPFT bombing.

1971 WBAI station manager Ed Goodman is jailed for refusing to turn over taped statements by rebelling prisoners at the “Tombs,” the New York City jail.

1972 The Pacifica Radio Archive and Pacifica Program Service are established in Los Angeles to preserve and distribute Pacifica programming to schools, libraries, individuals, and other community radio stations across the country.

1973 Pacifica provides gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings.

1973 Third World programmers at KPFA organize to demand a programming department with paid staff and control over some airtime. The station management opposes this effort and obtains a court order banning Third World project coordinator Jeff Echeverria from the KPFA premises. The Third World programmers file a challenge to KPFA’s license on grounds of discrimination in hiring practices. The lawyer representing them is David Salniker, later to become KPFA manager and Executive Director of Pacifica.

1974 The Symbionese Liberation Army delivers the Patty hearts tapes to KPFA/Berkeley and KPFK/Los Angeles. KPFK manager Will Lewis is jailed for refusing to turn the tapes over to the FBI.

1974 In the summer, KPFA staff and programmers go on strike to demand more democratic decision-making process, the reinstatement of the fired Third World staff, and the firing of station management. After KPFA is off the air for one month, Pacifica agrees to most of the strikers’ demands. In the fall, KPFA formally creates the Third World programming department with a paid department head and control over some airtime.

1975 Joel Kugelmass becomes the first Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation.

1975 Comedian George Carlin’s “dirty words you can’t say on television” routine, broadcast by WBAI/New York in 1973, leads to several years of First Amendment litigation and a hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court. No sanctions are imposed, but the Carlin Case sets the limits of broadcasting for over a decade.

1976 The Pacfica documentary on the assassination of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier is instrumental in piecing together evidence that later convicts the murderers.

1976 In September, KPFA station manager Larry Bensky lays off two-thirds of the station’s paid staff in one of the many financial crises perpetually plaguing Pacifica stations.

1977 WPFW/Washington DC goes on the air, after winning a six-year competitive process for the last available frequency in the nation’s capital.

1977 Jack O’Dell becomes Chair of the Pacifica Foundation.

1978 The Pacifica Radio News begins to distribute news services to 20 non-Pacifica stations across the U.S. and Canada and expands international coverage by establishing correspondents in a number of foreign capitals.

1979 Pacifica, the League of Women Voters, and congressman Henry Waxman (D, CA) challenge the constitutionality of the prohibition on editorializing by non-commercial broadcasters.

1980 Pacifica interviews Sister Ita Ford a few days before she is murdered in El Salvador.

1980 Sharon Maeda becomes Executive Director of Pacifica.

1981 KPFT/Houston becomes the first public radio station to broadcast special programs in 11 different languages, serving the multi- ethnic Texas Gulf Coast communities.

1981 KPFA/Berkeley creates a Women’s Department with a paid director and control over some airtime. Ginny Z. Berson (a member of the collective that created Olivia Records) becomes the first director of the Women’s Dept. (Women’s programming had been done on KPFA since the early 1970s by a collective called Unlearning To Not Speak.)

1982 Pacifica provides the only continuous live national coverage of one million people demonstrating for jobs, peace, and freedom in New York’s Central Park during the U.N. special session on disarmament.

1982 After years of development by women and people of color, the KPFA Apprentice Program is formally established as an intensive training program in broadcast skills. It is now the most comprehensive program of its kind in the country.

1983 WPFW heads up the all-Pacifica team which covers the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington with Julian Bond and Justine Rector as hosts/commentators.

1984 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Pacifica’s favor that non- commercial broadcasters have a constitutional right to editorialize.

1985 Pacifica broadcasts its first editorial, condemning the apartheid South African government. Pacifica Chair Jack O’Dell calls upon U.S. citizens to bring pressure on the White House to cut all ties with South Africa on the 10th anniversary of the Soweto uprising.

1985 WPFW helps launch the Capital City Jazz Festival in Washington DC.

1985 WBAI/New York organizes the now-annual Listener Action for the Homeless project to mobilize aid for New York’s homeless.

1986 The National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) radio archives are consolidated with Pacifica’s, making the Pacifica Radio Archive 30,000 tapes strong.

1986 David Salniker becomes Executive Director of Pacifica.

1987 Pacifica’s coverage of the Iran-Contra affair is carried by 33 stations and wins two national journalism awards.

1987 Pacifica provides the only national live radio coverage of the complete confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, beginning a traditon that has continued to the present day of broadcasting important congressional hearings.

1987 Lady Smith Black Mambazo makes their first live U.S. radio appearance, on KPFK/Los Angeles.

1988 Pacifica stringers provide on-the-spot coverage of the Intifada, the Palestinian uprising, despite great personal danger.

1989 The Pacifica Radio Archive completes restoration of 7,000 one-of- a-kind recordings from the early 1950s and 1960s in conjunction with Pacifica’s 40th anniversary.

1990 Pacifica’s ongoing coverage of the preparations for and conduct of war in the Persian Gulf reaches listeners on dozens of public stations throughout the country.

1990 Pacifica declines two NEA grants because of content restrictions attached to the funds.

1991 Pacificia leads a coalition with PEN, Allen Ginsberg and broad- casters opposing Senator Jesse Helms’ (R-NC) and the FCC’s 24-hour ban against “indecency” on radio. The Court of Appeals agrees with Pacifica and sets the ban aside as unconstitutional.

1991 KPFA/Berkeley moves into its newly constructed building in September.

1992 KPFA’s Flashpoints program, headed by Dennis Bernstein, becomes the third-most-popular program on the station (after the Morning Show and the Evening News). Flashpoints evolved from the daily Persian Gulf War update program.

1992 Senate Republicans put a hold on funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, claiming “liberal bias” on a host of issues, including environmental coverage. A bill is passed imposing “objectivity and balance” conditions on CPB funding. Almost alone among broadcasters, Pacifica protests any content-conditional funding, pressing CPB to shield all news programming and editorial integrity of individual producers–which CPB agrees to in its implementation protocols. Pacifica observes that no other broadcasters, commercial or religious, are any longer subject to access and balance requirements of the now-repealed Fairness Doctrine–making public broadcasters alone subject to editorial restrictions. Immediately after passage of the content restrictions, CPB Board member Victor Gold targets KPFK for strident African American programming and controversial speech aired during Black History month, by filing an FCC complaint.

1993 CPB Board member Victor Gold calls for de-funding Pacifica, echoing lobyying campaign orchestrated by right-wing media critics. In a unanimous vote, CPB reaffirms Pacifica’s funding irrespective of program content. Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS) threatens public broadcasting with Congressional revenge, his aide explaining: “The First Amendment, freedom of speech, doesn’t apply, because we are able to put conditions on the grants of federal money. The same as we do for farmers.” Pacifica launches a campaign for unconditional funding and self-defense, led by a tremendous outpouring of “fightback donations” from listeners nationwide. CPB funding narrowly escapes cuts in the House of Representatives, with program content the driving issue. A lobbying effort keeps Pacifica funding off the Senate agenda. This is the second year in which Pacifica has received no discretionary funding from CPB (only the matching funding based upon listener contributions).

1993 Pacifica wins its third Court of Appeals ruling in six years, overturning the FCC restrictions on “indecent” programming as unconstitutional restrictions of the First Amendment rights of the radio audience.

1993 WBAI wins the Roger N. Baldwin Award for Oustanding Contributions to Civil Liberties, presented by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, who state: “In the winter of 1991…a war hysteria seemed to engulf the United States and its mainstream media…. In this overheated, thought-muddling atmosphere, one of the few cool, on-target voices of rational discussion and dissent was a small FM radio station beaming steadily out of New York City…. From the armies converging on Iraq to the march for women’s lives in Washington, from the killing field of East Timor to the mean streets of Manhattan’s homeless, WBAI covers the local, national and international scene with a depth and integrity not even conceived of by commerical broadcasting.”

1993 Amy Goodman, WBAI News Director and co-anchor of WBAI’s Morning Show, wins the following awards for the program “Massacre: The Story of East Timor”: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for International Reporting; Unda-Gabriel Award for Nationally Distributed News and Information; Radio & Television News Directors Award; and the Unity in Media Award from Lincoln University.

1993 The CPB Silver Award for Children’s and Youth Programming goes to “Youth in Control,” the two-hour live radio magazine of Executive Producer Ellin O’Leary’s Youth Radio Project, produced weekly in KPFB-FM studios. This two-time CPB Award-winning program is a show produced by teens for teens, a project recruiting low income and minority youth, providing training in all aspects of news and music programming, and featuring live weekly Pacifica broadcasts and special pieces on KQED-FM, NPR, Monitor Radio and Inner City Broadcasting.

1993 San Francisco Foundation Executive Director Robert Fisher selects KPFA/Pacifica for the San Francisco Chronicle’s feature, “How To Spot a Charity That Deserves Support: Pros Pick Notable Nonprofits” (November 22).

1994 Amy Goodman wins another award for her programs on East Timor: the Alfred I Dupont-Columbia University Journalism Award.

March, 1994 Pacifica Radio wins a Commendation Award from the American Women in Radio and Television for “Audre Lorde: A Burst of Light”, a documentary about the African American poet, essayist, and feminist Audre Lorde, produced by Jude Thilman, Ginny Berson and Melanie Berzon.

1994 Pacifica broadcasts live from the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall march and rally in New York, commemorating the birth of the modern lesbian and gay liberation movement.

May, 1994 Pacifica Radio broadcasts commentaries by Pennsylvania death row inmate and African American journalist Mumia Abu Jamal after National Public Radio decided not to air a series of audio essays it commissioned by him. While NPR caved in to political pressure and a vigorous campaign by the Fraternal Order of Police to silence Abu-Jamal, Pacifica took a strong first amendment stand against censorship by broadcasting the views and experiences of a man living on death row.

December, 1994 Pacifica Covers the Zapatista Uprising In Mexico.

1995 Pacifica Network News correspondents file daily reports from Haiti and document in detail the return to power of popularly elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide.

September, 1995 Pacifica Network News Director Julie Drizin travels to China to cover the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, where she files daily audio reports via computer, bypassing any potential censorship by Chinese authorities. Pacifica was the first public radio network in the U.S. to send international reports via the internet.

October, 1995 Pacifica covers the Million Man March on Washington.

February, 1996 Pacifica launches Democracy Now!: a daily grassroots election program focusing on the state of democracy in the U.S. and around the world. Hosted by Amy Goodman, with Larry Bensky, Juan Gonzalez and Salim Muwakkil and produced by Julie Drizin, this program garnered unprecedented listener and foundation support and stimulated dialogue and action for social change.

March, 1996 Pacifica Executive Director Patricia Scott, News Bureau Chief Julie Drizin and the Pacifica Radio Network are named one of the “Top Ten Media Heroes of 1996” by the Institute for Alternative Journalism “for tough, creative and unrelenting efforts in a time when alternative viewpoints and independent voices in the media have never been more vital.

October, 1996 Pacifica Network News carries live coverage of the Latino March On Washington.

1997 Pacifica names its new national board chair, Mary Francis Berry, and says farewell to long-time chair, Jack O’Dell.

Each Pacifica station has its own website

Standard,,,,,, also has information on its PNB, Pacifica National Board,

Pacifica has between 100 and 200 “affiliates” who broadcast chunks of programming from Pacifica stations:

see also

see also Facebook has many pages of interest to listeners, and Twitter, sites and blogs has national board meetings, audio and info:


More History/Dirt from 1999



“. . .

Uncivil Wrongs

by Paul DeRienzo

According to former PNB member Ken Ford the Pacifica crisis was precipitated in February 1999 when the PNB, then chaired by US Civil Rights Commission head Mary Francis Berry, voted unanimously to make changes in the governing structure of the Foundation. PNB members said they were being forced to comply with rules of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CPB had told Pacifica that the PNB had to sever ties with the Local Advisory Boards of the five Pacifica stations (KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WBAI, WPFW) to stay eligible for CPB funding. Although largely supported by listener subscribers a significant portion of Pacifica’s funding is provided through the CPB. According to Ford their was a “huge uproar” that the PNB had become “self appointing” and had taken control from the LABs. However, Ford states, as do many other former PNB members that the LABs never had management control over Pacifica or its stations.

Ford adds that the first person to raise the LAB issue was KPFA programmer Larry Bensky. Bensky discussed the issue on his show “Living Room” and was suspended for violating what Ford call the “non-disclosure” rule. Ford contends that although Bensky and another KPFA programmer, Dennis Bernstein, “hated each other” they came together against a “common enemy, the Pacifica Foundation.” According to Ford Bernstein “used Bensky.”

Speaking on the WBAI program Let’em Talk on April 16, 1999 Larry Bensky stated that he believes that the crisis at KPFA began when former Pacifica National Director Lynn Chadwick refused to renew KPFA General Manager Nicole Sawaya’s contract. Bensky says Chadwick forced KPFA to play a statement on the air Chadwick claimed was intended “to clear the air.” Bensky asserts that “she made statements about me in that three-minute harangue which she ordered broadcast several times on KPFA.” Bensky says when it came time to do his program, which was then broadcast nationally, he played the Chadwick tape and then discussed internal station business on the air in violation of the Pacifica’s “dirty laundry” policy. Bensky says his on-air statement was “about how concerned I was as a person who’s been with the organization longer than just about anyone, about what I saw as more top down authoritarian behavior and wasteful, self-perpetuating bureaucracy.” A few days later Bensky was fired.

Ken Ford has a different take on what prompted Bensky to go the airwaves. Ford maintains that Bensky wanted to be “put off the air.” When Chadwick became national director of Pacifica, she refused to renew Sawaya’s contract because as Ford asserts Sawaya “wasn’t what we wanted.” Ford adds that Bensky and Bernstein wanted Sawaya as GM since “they could control her.”

Meanwhile Ford adamantly contends that Democracy Now host Amy Goodman was “stealing money, as were people at KPFA.”

. . . ”

1999 Lawsuit struggle (2002)


[Each person has a point-of-view of course.]

Eating Its Own
A Report on the Pacifica Crisis

by Paul DeRienzo

The Pacifica crisis is a complex series of events with various facets and numerous players. At the heart of the problem are years of erroneous assumptions about the future of public radio and a lack of strong competent leadership. That’s allowed many individual Pacifica programmers to gain power in the organization without being held accountable for their decisions and actions. The result has been a near disaster that threatens the very existence of the nations only progressive broadcast network. Here is a timeline of events at the Pacifica Foundation and the actors responsible according to former and current members of the Pacifica National Board.

Some quick background for the Pacifica challenged who might not be following the internecine feuding within the nations largest and oldest listener sponsored radio network. Pacifica was founded in 1949 in Berkley by World War 2 conscientious objector and visionary Lew Hill. The network added New York radio station WBAI in 1960 and stations in Los Angeles, Washington DC and Houston in the 60s and 70s. Pacifica reached its peak in listeners and influence during the Vietnam War era. Besides peaks in listeners during the Gulf War and the Iran-Contra scandal hearings the network has been a shadow of itself ever since.

In the mid 90s a new Board of Directors tried to influence the stations towards building an audience running into stiff opposition from long entrenched power groupings within the Foundation. As usual with Pacifica the fights began under cover, but soon spilled out onto the air through various disgruntled programmers. There was no single dispute, rather a collection of disputes that eventually congealed into two irreconcilable camps of former friends and colleagues. Attempts by the PNB to control the airing of “dirty laundry” were soon characterized by their opponents as “censorship” beginning a long very public slide by the Foundation into chaos.

In New York a popular local host Utrice Leid was appointed interim General Manager of WBAI replacing Valerie Van Isler. Although many WBAI programmers had been lobbying for Van Isler’s removal when it happened the New York liberal establishment went ballistic. Van Isler and her team were close associates of major financial donors who had been supporting WBAI for years. Leid was also not beholden to the white liberal New York establishment who consider Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman a “saint.”

Also WBAI had an unusual arrangement with its former union, the leftist United Electrical workers which allowed WBAIs 200 unpaid volunteers to be union members along with the stations 25-30 regular employees. WBAI management under Van Isler had challenged the idea of a union for volunteers. Eventually Pacifica won a National Labor Relations Board decision banning unpaid people from the union. When WBAI employees reached out to the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) this caused panic among programmers fearing that those shows that couldn’t raise money for the station would now be in danger. But WBAI employees were also upset that under UE they hadn’t gotten a raise or a new contract since 1992. These events set the stage for the internal dispute at WBAI.

Leid’s hiring and the lock out of several WBAI managers and some of their close associates in December 2000 set in motion the protest movement that eventually forced the resignation of the PNB more than a year later. It was a fight marked by invective, threats and some violence as a national movement spearheaded by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez gained momentum. Eventually several lawsuits against Pacifica were settled in a California state court. The settlement agreement formed an interim Pacifica National Board with members from each faction. It wasn’t long before the Goodman faction was in power, electing New York activist Leslie Cagan chair of the iPNB. Some say a “bloodbath” of managers and anyone who supported the old regime is continuing. More than 20 people, including managers and employees have been fired or laid off at Pacifica so far this year including the entire Pacifica Network News, the only other national Pacifica program besides Democracy Now. One former PNN staffer, Patricia Guadalupe calls it “21st Century McCarthyism*,” and many agree that there has been a purge at Pacifica. The following is the story in the words of those who believe they are the victims of the purge.

Continued: 1 2 3 4 NEXT

*Pacifica Fires 9, Drops National News Show
The Washington Post, Feb 16, 2002

Paul’s Pacifica Page

January 13, 2002
Leslie Cagan, Chair Pacifica National BoardDear Ms. Cagan:

I am writing this to make certain that there is no misunderstanding about the action taken by the Pacifica Board last night regarding the AFTRA bargaining unit at Pacifica’s WBAI radio station in New York.
It is my understanding that in a vote last night, the newly constituted Pacifica Board essentially revoked the decision of WBAI employees to have AFTRA as their exclusive representative. This vote occurred even though the Pacifica Foundation has already recognized AFTRA as the bargaining agent for WBAI employees.
If this is the case, the Pacifica Board has committed blatant unfair labor practices by violating various provisions of the National Labor Relation Act. Unfortunately, the Board’s actions will result in AFTRA taking immediate legal action to insure that the collective rights of employees are both respected and protected. The Board’s action is particularly troubling in light of Pacifica’s proud history—up until now—of supporting organized labor.
In order to avoid an unnecessary and costly legal battles over the Board’s illegal action, AFTRA requests that the Board take immediate steps to ensure that the collective rights of AFTRA represented employees are enforced and that Pacifica fully comply with its legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. This can be done by signing the attached.


Kenneth F. Greene Assistant Executive Director AFTRA, Washington—Baltimore Local cc: Pacifica National Board

Radio Intifada
By Greg Yardley | August 1, 200

A right-wing web site, but Yardley’s a good writer with valuable insights into the Pacifica mess..

Return to…
Let ’em Talk | NWO.MEDIA

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KPFA–94.1 1949
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Houston KPFT–90.1 1970 
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