Public Comment

Commentary: KPFA ‘Concerned Listeners’

By Sherry Gendelman
Tuesday October 30, 2007

Concerned Listeners very much appreciates the Berkeley Daily Planet’s coverage of the current KPFA LSB elections.  

Concerned Listeners is a broad coalition of people active in labor, community organizing, and the arts. We formed because we did not want KPFA’s board dominated by sectarian groups trying to impose a rigid ideological orthodoxy on a station that has always thrived because of its diversity. Our candidates include myself, Sherry Gendelman, a long-time stawart and activist who led one of the listener lawsuits that saved KPFA and Pacifica from a hostile board in 1999-2001. We also include new faces like Dianne Enriquez, an activist with Young Workers United, and a former member of KPFA’s First Voice Apprenticeship Program. We have people active in unions and academia, like Warren Mar of the CCSF Community and Labor Studies Program. And we also have people with a history in the arts—for years, John Van Eyck sat on board of the National Endowment for the Arts as a trade union representative. Matthew Hallinan is a seasoned political organizer, and co-founded of the Wellstone Club. Susan McDonough works for the Alameda County Central Labor council, and has a strong nonprofit fundraising background. Antonio Medrano is a consummate community activist, co-chairing Concilio Latino of Contra Costa County, among his work with many, many other organizations. And Paul Robins, a software manager from the Peninsula, is tech-savvy with a solid background in labor organizing and Buddhist peace work. See 

We’re running to strengthen KPFA. We believe in a KPFA that is both radical, and diverse, embracing its original mission of using the airwaves for dialogue between contrasting points of view. We want to bring the station closer to the communities it serves, by doing hands-on outreach and organizing ourselves—not by yelling about how the station’s not doing enough.  

In this regard we welcome the statement by Dan Siegel, civil rights attorney, long-time political activist, and interim executive director of the Pacifica Foundation. It is Dan Siegel’s opinion that “Pacifica’s local station board elections have taken a particularly nasty turn. A group of candidates running for the KPFA local board have issued statements that contain little more than personal attacks on their opponents and station staff. A candidate at WBAI engages in blatant race-baiting. As a community and a progressive organization we must ask ourselves whether this type of rhetoric is acceptable. “Siegel went on to say that the debate within Pacifica is often so toxic that it inhibits the ability of Pacifica to respond to the issues our time, and the in-fighting, he said, “saps the morale of our hard-working and underpaid staff, and discourages people of good will from participating in our organization.” 

We, Concerned Listeners, urge Pacifica’s members to decide if this is the nature of the dialogue they want those of us who are active to engage in. To quote Mr. Siegel yet again, Pacifica needs “leaders who will work to improve our programming, broaden our listener base, and attract needed financial support.” We, Concerned Listeners, urge all KPFA members to vote for those candidates who want KPFA to flourish. To vote for candidates who have expressed ideas about how this radio station should be run to the advantage of the mission of Pacifica. We believe that would mean votes for the Concerned Listeners slate of candidates. We want to do some of the things the board is supposed to do but hasn’t—fundraise for KPFA, organize town halls for KPFA, hire visionary permanent management. But we can’t accomplish those things if we can’t transcend the board’s petty infighting.  


Sherry Gendelman is a Concerned Listeners candidate for KPFA’s Local Station Board.