KPFA supporters welcomed the news that Ken Ford, a member of the Pacifica board majority they have battled for the last two and a half years, resigned on Wednesday.
In a message on the Pacifica Foundation’s Web site, board president Robert Farrell said, “Ken Ford's years of service to Pacifica Foundation as officer, board member, and WPFW local advisory board member were of great value to the organization and are appreciated. We all wish him well as he takes his leave.”
WPFW is a Washington, D.C. station, one of the five listener-sponsored stations in the network.
Phil Osegueda, KPFA’s assistant station manager, said that in his resignation letter to board president Farrell, Ford wrote he was stepping down “for the betterment of the organization.”
The departure comes one week after Bessie Wash, the network’s executive director, left under uncertain circumstances, amidst a worsening crisis in the network’s finances.
Representatives of the Pacifica Board majority and KPFA were in mediation Thursday to resolve four lawsuits against the network: one was filed by members of four of the five stations’ local advisory boards, another by its listeners, a third by dissident national board members and a fourth by fired staff.
The talks were expected to conclude late Thursday or on Friday.
“We’d like an end to this struggle and we hope that (Ford’s resignation) is indicative of good faith discussions by both sides,” said Osegueda.
The KPFA community last week voted to put off a decision on holding a fundraiser, partly out of concern that Pacifica might gain strength from it to fight the lawsuits.
Immediately after Wash’s departure on Oct. 25, Pacifica agreed to bring those suits to mediation.
Ford was one of a majority on the Pacifica board that supporters and staff of KPFA have battled for more than two years over control of the radio station.
Two weeks ago, the San Francisco Examiner quoted Ford comparing those fighting to keep control of KPFA to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, which the government holds responsible for recent terrorist activities.
Larry Bensky, a former KPFA station manager who now hosts the Sunday Salon program as a volunteer after being ousted from his paid position by Pacifica, said he did not think the resignation necessarily meant better times ahead.
“I’ll be happy when the board changes to be controlled by advocates for free speech community radio,” he said. “This is the 13th director to resign over the last two and a half years, and yet the policies of the Pacifica central organization continue to be ruinous. Ford was certainly one of the most intemperate and nasty members of the board, but as long as they keep replacing the Ken Fords of the world with like-minded individuals, there can be no sense of victory or vindication.”