Thank you for your sober, detailed coverage of the police incident at KPFA (“Rough Arrest at KPFA Stuns Station, Community,” Sept. 4).
KPFA has work to do to become a better institution. (To see what we are doing, check out kpfa.org/august20.) It is clear to us that KPFA needs to review and update its procedures for securing the safety of its staff, de-escalating internal conflicts, and monitoring the police if and when they do enter the station. To do that, what KPFA needs is dialogue and healing: We need frank conversations about the internal conflicts we’ve had, and how our policies and actions live up to our ideals.
What we don’t need is civil war. The police incident was bad enough. What has made it worse is that opportunistic individuals have sensationalized the incident for their own ends.
KPFA is facing hard economic times and stagnant audience numbers—we can only turn things around with new programming and institutional change. And the loudest shouting over the police incident has come from those entrenched programmers at the station who stand to lose the most from a revitalization of KPFA.
They have used KPFA’s airwaves to launch sensationalized reports that are both false (reporting a sprained arm as a broken one, and a pregnancy that did not exist), mistargeted (calling for the resignation of two managers who had nothing to do with the decision to call the police), and self-serving (concluding one on-air segment with a demand for a regular show).
When KPFA is used in that fashion, it takes the airwaves we hold in public trust, and turns them into a bully pulpit for pressing an internal political campaign. That’s a breach of our duty to deliver the information our listeners turn to us for—insight into the occupation of Iraq, the rapidly-escalating situation in Afghanistan, the emergence of a new Cold War with Russia, the hurricanes battering the Gulf Coast, the erosion of civil liberties, the food, healthcare and housing crises in our communities, and the watershed presidential election set to take place in November.
That work—our journalism—is bigger than any of us in KPFA, or our internal conflicts. By the time your readers see this, KPFA will be entering its fall fund drive. We do fund drives because tens of thousands of people rely on KPFA for information and inspiration, and we have an obligation to them to do what it takes to keep KPFA’s microphones on and doors open. We hope you understand that, despite its conflicts, KPFA is an important institution, one whose work has real value in these times, and one worthy of support even as it works through its internal crises.
We’re calling on KPFA’s extended family—its staff and volunteers, boardmembers and supporters, allies and comrades past and present—to address the current crisis in the spirit of healing and progress, and to challenge those who would point the guns inward to re-focus their energy on engaging the much greater crises of our times, the crises that we all, for the past 59 years, have counted on KPFA to shed light on.
Amelia Gonzalez-Garcia, Director of Arts, Humanities, and Public Affairs; Aileen Alfandary, News Co-Director; Mark Mericle, News Co-Director; Luis Medina, Music Director; Gary Niederhoff, Subscriptions Director; Andrea Turner, Chair, KPFA Local Station Board; Sherry Gendelman, Chair, Pacifica National Board; Conn Hallinan, Vice-Chair, KPFA Local Station Board; Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Staff Representative and Treasurer, KPFA Local Station Board; Warren Mar, Listener Representative, KPFA Local Station Board.