OUR PROTESTS ARE BEGINING TO WORK! WE MUST NOW PUSH FOR FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURAL CHANGE THAT CREATES AN OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, DEMOCRATIC PROCESS FOR COMMUNITY CONTROL OF OUR STATIONS, OR WE WILL FIGHT THIS BATTLE OVER AND OVER. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THOSE SEEKING TO SUBJUGATE PACIFICA RADIO TO THEIR OWN ENDS, OR CO-OPT IT.
Here is Roberta Brooks'
To put it mildly, we would characterize her activities at the Pacifica National Board in a far less benevolent light than she portrays them below. We have built links in her letter leading to documents which will we hope, present a more accurate representation of what has been going on. - ed
|From: "Brooks, Roberta"
Subject: RE: Pacifica
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 22:55:30 -0400
Thank you for your message and concern about KPFA and Pacifica. Since I know this will be posted on the "Save Pacifica" web page, I will take this opportunity to also let people who have phoned me know that this is a response to them as well.
Given some major transitions in my office requiring my attention and added responsibilities, I am resigning from the Pacifica Governing Board. I simply cannot attend to the necessary work in my office and also continue with the many hours of work and attention that Pacifica/KPFA requires. I must make this difficult choice at this time. I tried to get this message to people Saturday morning, but my computer was not cooperative.
I regret that so many of the messages I have received have been so personalized and so full of vitriol. Also, it is interesting to me to note how so many people act according to directives from certain individuals or with very limited or one-sided information. I understand that the Pacifica Board's and Pacifica Executive Director's position has not been readily available. Suffice it to say that the Executive Director was waiting for a response to her offer of April 7 to sit down face to face with KPFA staff. She was waiting to be able to report something. That obviously was a mistake since so many people chose to interpret that silence negatively. Further, despite what has been put out there, I and other members of the Board HAVE been working behind the scenes to create some dialogue with various parties. That of course is also not reported.
I want to take this last opportunity to put this situation with KPFA/Pacifica in some context. I have been a volunteer on the Pacifica Board for nine years--the first six as a representative from KPFA, the last three years as an at-large member. These years represent some very exciting and some very difficult times. We first sought to build a facility in which programmers could produce programming that could serve the needs of our changing community--more young people and people of color. We then, through a strategic planning process that included the Board, advisory boards, and national and local staffs, devised a plan that could help in the creation of more incisive and analytical programming on the national and local levels. This meant sharing resources and building a national structure that could support the local stations. Most financial, personnel, legal support, etc. can be handled more efficiently and with greatly reduced costs in a central location, rather than several different locations. We built the capacity of the other four stations. We created a stronger national news, Democracy Now! and the Larry Bensky show, and other local shows with local significance. In addition, we built a satellite system and now send our programming to about 60 other community radio stations. These stations can now share programming with us and share with us some of the things happening in their communities. These changes have not negatively affected the programming at KPFA but enhanced it. I think this is the best way to utilize our limited resources and given the state of most media today we cannot afford to do less.
I really fear for this community at this time because so many people took a position without really understanding anything at all about the issues or even trying to find out. They heard on the air that a popular general manager was terminated. Larry Bensky's firing followed that. People keep saying, we want free speech radio, but what does that mean? We have policies in place that prohibit racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic, etc. language. Programmers have been removed for violating those policies. Most programmers over the thirty or so years that the "no airing dirty laundry" policy has been in place, have respected it because they agreed that it wasn't particularly good radio for each programmer to be able to
talk about his or her own internal station matters on the air. The programmers ageed as a body to violate that policy a couple weeks ago. Civil disobedience. Fine, most of us have commited civil disobedience in our lives and when we do so we know the consequences. Larry had violated the policy on three previous occasions. Many staff asked some of us on the Board why he wasn't fired on those occasions. The Executive Director acted according to policy when on the fourth occasion, she fired Larry Bensky. (By the way, some of you will remember when Larry was General Manager, he fired a number of people resulting in major protests). And so it goes.
I am proud of the thousands of hours I have devoted to KPFA and Pacifica because I truly believe that it is the most valuable media resource we have in the U.S.--the only network of radio stations that does not accept corporate underwriting of programs. The real struggle is whether we CAN be more than five provincial stations. I, for one, will continue to contribute to KPFA and Pacifica because I believe we can be more, that we can be the strongest national network producing the most progressive, inciteful and analytical radio there is.
A Listener's Letter
to Roberta Brooks : Not Fooled
Sent: Thursday, April 15, 1999 6:11 PM
To: Brooks, Roberta
Subject: RE: Pacifica
Roberta, and executive committee members,
There is clearly a significant amount of dishonesty and deception in this message that you have sent out in response to all of our concerns.
There is no PR war, and you have as much access to the public as anyone at KPFA has. There is, though, an important struggle going on, and you are clearly representing MOST of the deception, lust for power, and greed that is at the heart of this struggle.
You and you cohorts have attempted to begin/continue this behind the scenes coup without the significant involvement of anyone outside of the executive board, and those interests that it represents. You got caught because of your own arrogance in thinking that you actually have the power to keep this hidden from public scrutiny. A behavior remarkably similar to the
corporate and government interests that you are almost certainly representing, in probably some very self-deluded, as well as intentional, ways.
Thankfully the staff has told us what is going on. Lynn Chadwick's statement over the air a few days ago was clearly, and very purposely, misleading, with a couple of outright lies hiding behind vague terms. Her, and the board's, assumption that we, the public/supporters of Pacifica, to whom Pacifica BELONGS to, are not a party in all of this, is so absurd as to be ludicrous, if it weren't so tragic.
It is the board's actions that pull us away from the important events of the day, as you attempt to join Pacifica into the mainstream, as an "approved" counterpoint to the ruling/corporate class interests. Another, slightly more radical, NPR clone, with easy path of access for corporate money and determination.
You should be ASHAMED of your dishonesty, so glaringly evident to anyone who has the eyes to see beyond the trappings of power and importance that you adorn yourself with.
Your message, and then my original one, follows;
Thank you for your message and your concern about Pacifica and KPFA. I am sorry that there has been so much damaging misinformation out there and that the Board and Executive Director have not been able to match the p.r. war being waged against recent personnel actions. By Friday, April 16, you can go to the Pacifica web page where a statement from the Executive Director will attempt to provide correcting information to folks within the constraints imposed by not sharing detailed personnel evaluations with the public. In addition, on Wednesday, April 7, the Institute for Labor and
Mental Health at the recomendation from CWA contacted KPFA with Pacifica's desire to enter into facilitated discussion. To date, KPFA has not responded. I, for one, have thought that the crises around the world involving hundreds of thousands of people seem more pressing and more of a challenge to our mission than airing internal disputes. Maybe we will always be discussing and arguing the goals of our dream, but in the meantime, let's continue to run the most progressive radio voice in the
U.S. I urge everyone to continue to support KPFA financially. At this extremely important time internationally, it is essential to have the kind of news and information that KPFA and Pacifica have always provided. The recent changes will in no way alter the mission of Pacifica and will in no way alter the kind of inciteful, progressive, thoughtful, and unmatched information we have all relied on in the past. This does not need an answer, please refer to the Pacifica web page tomorrow.
From: xxxx xxxxxxxxx [SMTP:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, April 12, 1999 8:15 PM
To: Brooks, Roberta
I am OUTRAGED by your behavior and that of your co-conspirators, specifically in your attempt to remove Pacifica from its roots and the deep values developed out of 50 years of service to the diverse peoples that Pacifica arises from. Your actions and the actions of your cohorts are clearly based on an obsession with power, and a very destructive craving for the rewards of power.
Firmly and Sincerely,
Long time listener (30 years!), and very current subscriber of KPFA.