BOMB STRATEGY" FOR KPFA
The Pacifica board of directors and the executive
staff continue to escalate the crisis at KPFA by hiding behind
bureaucratic, legalistic arguments. When they have deigned
to speak to the listeners and the community, they have been
We need to be much
more creative if we are going to dislodge this self-congratulating,
smug cabal of directors. We must figure out where the
power is if we are going to force them to reveal their plans
and to abandon their violent and destructive course of action
Mary Francis Berry
has spoken of the need to increase the listener-ship at the
station and she has also complained about the race of the
local advisory board and of the listeners.
The staff and the local
advisory board have written eloquently about the charges of
racism and the loss of several staff members has made it clear
that Chadwick's policies have reduced racial diversity at
KPFA. They are creating the outcomes they claim
to be solving, just like Clinton did with his bombings
So what does Berry
mean about listener-ship?
There has been much
talk and rumor about the finances of the stations and the
foundation, which has included talk about selling a station
to raise funds. Berry and the board of directors have
all denied these rumors of selling a Pacifica station. What
if we took them at their word on this? None of them
have denied that finances are an issue. So, perhaps
a combination of expanding listener-ship and increasing income
are a real issue for them.
Their solution, then,
might plausibly be that Pacifica is planning to force a change
in the programming to make it more palatable (i.e.,
more bland) to a group of listeners who would give up
And, in addition, they
will seek out corporate sponsorship, just like they do at
the so-called "public" broadcasting stations.
The model for this
was Van Gordon Sauter's, Kathleen Brown's husband, who
pioneered the placement of corporate advertising on the "public"
TV station KVIE in Sacramento, presaging the future of all
non-corporate means of communication where the "people"
are not vigilant.
This erosion of listener-sponsorship
by a single-minded obsession with the financial "rent"
that can be extracted from the public airways is perhaps more
insidious than selling KPFA outright.
Let's call it
the "neutron bomb strategy"; leave the signal
and destroy the voices. This is the perfect strategy
for fin-de-siecle Clinton liberalism, of which Mary Francis
Berry is an embodiment.
If the Pacifica board
really had a viable plan that would find a constituency, wouldn't
they be promoting it? Wouldn't they be using the 50th
anniversary to trumpet their plans? Why are they acting
like a board for a private corporation, deliberating
secretively and using un-democratic decision-making?
Since they do not represent
the listeners and the communities created by the radio stations,
who do they represent?
In trying to find out
answers, I have tried to call all the board members, and half
of them have phones that simply ring endlessly, and a couple
have message machines that still accept messages.
I was able to talk
to Bob Farrell in Los Angeles, and he was confident that the
board had TRUTH on their side, that they could win any
legal challenge, and that they had the best interests
of the stations in mind. I was supposed to accept his
word on this.
It was my distinct
impression that he (and undoubtedly all the other board members)
are victims of the propaganda stream they are getting from
Chadwick and Berry. They are not receiving phone calls
from us listener-sponsors, and they need to hear our side
of the story.
For example, when I
spoke with Bob Farrell, I gathered that the board is under
the illusion that a small group of malcontents and trouble-makers
in Berkeley are at the root of the opposition to their plans
for KPFA. It has certainly become more obvious this
week that the Pacifica board has taken on the whole of the
Bay area and the whole of the listener-ship in Northern California
with their assault on KPFA.
Board members need
to hear about this broad-based support.
Those of us in the
Sacramento Valley, for whom KPFA is crucial to sustaining
our progressive communities, must also make ourselves heard.
Each listener-sponsor needs to take individual
and collective action. We each need to call one board
member a day to tell them how upset we are and tell them that
they need to abandon the disastrous course they have set for
KPFA (and the rest of the stations, in due time).
We also need to collectively
figure out where the real pressure points are that will move
them to take action to end the occupation of KPFA by Pacifica.
The board members need to understand how extensive the
support for the staff and programmers at the station is.
They need to understand
that KPFA and Pacifica are not a corporate body, but a democratic
organization which needs to be taken back from its usurpers.
is to remain a beacon of non-corporate radio, we each
need to make our pledge to ACT in defense of that promise.
Our inaction enables Pacifica's executive and
board to assume that they have an autocrat's right to take
care of the station for you. --PR