A group calling itself “Friends of KPFK,” which parrots the position of KPFK General Manager Mark Schubb has put up a Web site in an attempt to gather support.
Mark Shubb, General Manager of KPFK has been attacking the KPFK Local Advisory Board and the iPNB. KPFK LAB Chair David Adelson has issued the following statement to counter what's going over the air on KPFK.
Statement by KPFK Local Advisory Board Chair David Adelson (1/8/02)
For several days now KPFK has been airing an announcement regarding the current state of the station and the network. The statement describes a genuine financial crisis at Pacifica, but misleads listeners about recent events, which include the settlement of four lawsuits against Pacifica Foundation, which has led to the seating, less than two weeks ago, of a new Interim Pacifica National Board, whose job is to undo the mess created by the prior administration.
The KPFK announcement states:
“For the first time in the history of Pacifica, the Pacifica national board has decided to encroach on the editorial independence of our station and now intends to have the board itself make decisions about who or what you may hear on KPFK.”
This statement is false, as well as misleading. First, please note that no specific example is given of this so called incursion on KPFK's editorial or programming independence.
In fact, what has occurred is that the newly seated Pacifica National Board of Directors has mandated an end to the Gag Rule that prohibits discussion of issues relating to Pacifica, its policies, finances, and governance, with you the listeners. Specifically, the Board ordered that:
“In order to provide protection from abuse of the air and to protect against the unfair removal from air of programmers, for the two weeks between the seating of the new Pacifica Board and the in-person public Board meeting this weekend in New York City, no programmer may be taken off the air without a review process.”
Further, the board mandated that:
“Each station, in conjunction with the Local Advisory Board and signal area National Board representatives, is to initiate a program, of at least 3 hours during drive time for an organized on-air discussion of the settlement agreement, which would include those who are critical of the settlement as well as those who support it.”
The settlement agreement reached less than a month ago to the four lawsuits brought against the prior Pacifica Administration for a variety of illegal abuses of its power explicitly mandates that you, the listener sponsors, will have voting rights for local boards at each of the Pacifica stations within one year. Further, the interim Pacifica National Board is committed to financial and operational transparency, and to a reversal of the centralization of decision-making and financial power at the network, returning control to local stations and communities.
It must be noted that the current management of KPFK was put in place by the prior Pacifica administration. We believe that these announcements are intended to confuse listeners about the distinction between the prior renegade National Administration that has centralized Pacifica's finances and put it millions of dollars in debt, and the newly seated interim Pacifica National Board which is attempting to rectify the damage and inform the listeners. We believe that the reason for this intentional attempt to confuse is that the current management is hostile to the reform National Board just seated, and is attempting to convince programmers and listeners that that board is hostile to their interests, in part by blaming it for the abuses of the prior board.
Lastly, it must be noted that station staff and management have known for months about the centralization of financial control and knew about and had complained about the failure of Pacifica to pay station bills PRIOR to the previous fund drive. This suggests the station's willingness to raise funds when the bills weren't being paid, using promises of premiums not yet purchased, to support the activities of the prior renegade administration.
We hope that listeners will remain attentive to what is happening at your community radio station, and will choose to support the station not only with your donations, but also with your time and effort. We recommend that you look into one of the many local neighborhood listeners groups that are forming around the city to be involved in the rejuvenation of Pacifica, as we work to undo the financial catastrophe wrought upon the network.
Please see reverse side
Excerpts from the “My Way or the Highway” 1995 memo from the former Pacifica National Board to the Local Advisory Boards.
The memo states:
“At the October, 1994 National Board meeting, the Board mandated that the station managers re-configure programming to better serve core listeners in each signal area, to develop more relevant and professional programming and to, thereby, increase the audience. We were mindful that this would unfortunately inconvenience, if not distress, some staff, board and audience members. It will mean that there will be many alterations to current and long-standing practices at the stations. This may include the elimination of aspects of the traditional program format, the repositioning of others, and the development of new and innovative programs.”
“Members of any local Board who do not feel that they can assist Pacifica in its present mission are advised to resign. If there are indications that actions are being taken collectively or individually to countermand the policies, directives, and mandates of the Pacifica Board, the Board will take appropriate steps.”
This memo can be viewed in its entirety on the World Wide Web at: http://www.radio4all.org/fp/myway.htm
Web Sites Providing Additional Information on the Pacifica Settlement
- Text of the Settlement Agreement. Note that listener-based elections on the KPFA model are mandated by this agreement for all station LABs, including KPFK's, within the next 12 months. That provision was a central demand of the listener's movement.
- Chronology of events leading up to the listener lawsuits.
- Actual image of the notorious “gag rule” memo written and (selectively) enforced by KPFK manager Mark Schubb since 1996, in which he states that announcements for events whose topic is the Pacific crisis are banned and that on-air callers who raise the issue must be immediately cut off by hosts, with disobedience resulting in immediate termination. Note that now that the Board faction that placed Schubb in his position has been relegated to minority status by a listener-based movement, Schubb has once again violated his own rule, this time in the most egregious manner possible, playing recitations by various staff members of the same one-sided and misleading message one or more times an hour, nearly continuously, over the last several days, thereby insulting listeners and degrading the staff assigned to read management's views over the air.
- “My Way or the Highway” 1995 memo from the former Pacifica National Board to the Local Advisory Boards of all stations imposing centralized control over the network and depriving the Local Advisory Boards of their power. Note that this memo clearly states that in 1994 “the Board mandated that the station managers re-configure programming,” showing that the Board exercised sweeping forms of control over local programming, contrary to Mark Cooper's claim of long-standing local editorial independence. Management's complaint is not with centralized control; it is with the fact that a listener movement is now calling some of the shots.
- Article from Alexander Cockburn 's Counterpunch magazine called “Pacifica Power Grab Clinched by CPB Pressure.” This details how the old Board disenfranchised Local Advisory Boards and then broke corporate law in order to make itself self-selecting. Ultimately, their plan failed due to the lawsuits launched by the Pacifica listeners' movement.
- Amy Goodman's irreplaceable program has been online at this site all along, in RealAudio and MP3, even while handpicked managers of the old Pacifica Board, including Mark Schubb, prevented it from airing on all Pacifica stations except KPFA. Amy's site gives the lie to Schubb's claims that AFTRA prevented the station from airing the program. Amy continues to be an AFTRA member and her union supported her in her negotiations over the hostile workplace created by the old Board's managers at WBAI (which is the only station that still refuses to air the program at all, even under orders from the new Board).
Schubb quite simply kept the most significant news magazine program in the country away from its listeners here in Los Angeles because Amy Goodman is one of the strongest and most outspoken supporters of the listener's movement that has finally reduced the power of those attempting to destroy Pacifica's mission. Amy's co-host, Juan Gonzalez, left the show so that he could lead the listener's boycott of the stations.
Even now, under a direct order to restore the program by the new Board, Schubb still refuses to put it back in its old 9 am slot, airing it at 6 am instead, when there are many fewer listeners. Amy's site and programs blast station managers, including Schubb, for continuing censorship of her program and the programs of others such as Fidel Rodriguez, whose political hip-hop program Seditious Beats was recently removed by KPFK management.
- SavePacifica Web site. Created by KPFA programmers to support the struggle to save Pacifica radio. KPFA was the one station not to succumb to the old PNB's totalitarian tactics of tossing out old management and staff, locking doors, and replacing people and programs. The former Board tried these tricks, which had “worked” at WBAI (but which ultimately fueled the listener's movement and helped us to win), but a demonstration involving 10,000 listeners turned out and successfully defended the station. In 2000 and again in 2001, these heroic KPFA listeners, with no support from the anti-democratic Board with which Schubb and Cooper have worked hand in glove, successfully organized the first elections of a Local Advisory Board in the history of the network, with tens of thousands of participants. These elections, of course, were not covered on KPFK.
- Site of the Free Pacifica Neighborhood Network of Los Angeles. This recently formed listeners' organization already has 15 chapters all across Los Angeles. Its purpose is to restore Pacifica's relationship to local communities and their struggles. The Web site was set up just over a week ago and so is still fairly basic, but if you want to get involved in rebuilding KPFK, this organization is a great place to start.
These are breaking events, and this Web page will be updated as events warrant.