Public Comment

Commentary: The KPFA Local Station Board Election

By Bob English
Friday November 02, 2007

The Pacifica Bylaws establish a collaborative, democratic process between listeners, staff and management with specified and shared powers and responsibilities, but not everyone gets the concept or wants it to happen. In fact, Concerned Listeners (CL) and their management/staff power allies are committed to the business as usual and status quo imposed by the old regime’s NPR/Healthy Station model and program grid, and are organized and funded to block and dismantle the transition to a democratic KPFA, to control what they can’t disable or destroy, including our elections.  

People’s Radio (PR), unlike the CL slate, doesn’t rely on financial resources to conduct a campaign in the fashion of the corporate two-party system; we don’t have the money raised through private events attended by KPFA staff stars, to send a mass mailer to all or segments of the 26,000 KPFA voters precisely timed to the arrival of ballots during the three-week election blackout at the station (no candidate recordings or statements or election information allowed on air or the website during the always numero uno fund drive--that is the only time it’s referred to as “our station,” when they ask for our $). What we do have and what we used to reach the same listeners is the free speech, democratic election opportunity of our candidate statements. Instead of the traditional individual “vote for me, here’s why” statements, we decided to do something unique and more informative with integrity: a collective continuous narrative statement, within the limits of the voter booklet format and random alphabetical order, to give truly concerned listeners a point of view, information and analysis which most can’t get anywhere else without being more actively involved or dedicated LSB watchers.  

We understand that whether we (as individuals and members of a pro-democracy caucus at KPFA) are elected or not, or whoever is elected, nothing will change at KPFA and Pacifica until listeners have access to and understanding of the developing crisis and continuing anti-democracy actions, presented and demonstrated with examples and analyzed in our statements--that is, the current top management, key staff, and CL control of important station and board positions and their domination, dismantling or disabling of every democratic or semi-democratic institution put in place by the Bylaws, including the Program Council, Unpaid Staff Organization, Advisory Board and the Local Station Board. Reading the CL version of a very limited advisory, fundraising role for the LSB (as Stan Woods puts it, like “Friends of the Ballet"), we can see that they, like the interim managers they support, aren’t rooted in and don’t understand or care about the history and principles of the listener movement and the mandated function and powers of a unique, historical democratic governing Station Board.  

There are few means available and rare opportunities to let listeners see through what is effectively a gag rule veil that covers up station affairs, governance activity and issues, informal power blocks and cronyism--the continuity and preservation, that is, of the status quo that allowed the old hijacker regime to gain power in the first place (while hundreds of progressive/radical programmers and volunteers were banned and fired in the 1990s and never returned) and that has replaced our once great progressive community radio. For an in-depth history and background of the hijacking, Take Back KPFA, followed by the SavePacifica movement, see Maria Gilardin’s “Why Did the Staff Not Prevent the 10 Year Corporate Raid, “ the “Chronology” and other pieces posted on  

To those not yet familiar with the history or who can’t share or accept my analogy or summary assessment of current realities above, please look at another timely example and Pacifica media issue now being exposed and discussed: ask the organizers of this Saturday’s peace march, and ask station management and their staff front persons like Brain Edwards-Tiekert, why KPFA refuses to let them tape and play a recorded “cart” on air promoting the peace march and mobilizing listeners to attend. As LSB candidate and PR member Mara Rivera notes, this is such a disgrace to Pacifica and KPFA. This was, but clearly no longer is, the community radio station and network dedicated to peace and social justice.  


Vallejo resident Bob English is a People’s Radio candidate for the KPFA Local Station Board. He was active from 1999 in Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica, FreePacifica/listener democracy movements).