Public Comment

Commentary: Disputing Gendelman, Hallinan on KPFA

By Virginia Browning
Friday November 02, 2007

First, I’ve been watching the board operate at KPFA for over two years. I’ve gone to almost every board meeting. I started this to try to figure out how much screaming to attend to. That’s not a style I appreciate, but sometimes I understand people express themselves in less-than-optimal ways under pressure. 

While I am uncomfortable with some of the tone of globalizing and attributing of motives in the “People’s Radio” combined statement, I have come very reluctantly to feel that our beloved KPFA staff members are not operating as openly as I would like. In fact, I have come to find it very frustrating to unravel some seeming inexplicable moves on the board and realized the only way I could come to understand them is to realize some board members seem to be working extremely carefully to keep the board from functioning efficiently. My opinion: There may be some truth in the idea that some People’s Radio board members presentations at times end up seeming critical. However, stepping back and looking at things in a larger context, the frustration level of trying to get resolutions discussed and acted upon by board members and chairs whose tones are snide and whose studied “passing” and obfuscating stalls things probably takes its toll. 

As the deadline for getting this in arrives: 

1. Carol Spooner was also a lead plaintiff in wrenching the old hijacking Pacifica board back to KPFA and other local station control. 

2. “Sectarian” applies at least as much to the staff-recruited people as to anyone of the other candidates. 

3. There IS a link between the people named in the “People’s Radio” statement and the “concerned listener” block. To sign onto the “Concerned Listener” slate meant agreeing to precepts put forth by the recruiters of that slate. 

I do not want to demonize any staff members—beloved staff members. But a conversation does need to take place. Richard Phelps, LaVarn Williams, and their allies got access to Pacifica financial records for the first time since the hijacking just last year. They did this despite the efforts of Sherry Gendelman’s slate. 

The significance of getting access to financial records, as Phelps and Williams finally did, is that the new bylaws ironed out after winning back the station were supposed to give access to board members, such as Phelps, Williams and all board members, so that listener/sponsors had at least some say in where their money was going. 


Virginia Browning is an Oakland resident.