Candidates Fight for Spot on KPFA Local Station Board

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:21:00 AM

One of the more difficult tasks in the Bay Area is making sense out of the elections at KPFA radio. 

While these can be some of the most fiercely fought and emotional battles over board elections—easily surpassing, for example, contests for the board of directors of BART, AC Transit or the East Bay Regional Parks District—outsiders often have trouble figuring out what all the fuss is about and what actual power is gained or lost in these struggles. 

Candidates in this year’s KPFA elections will hold a candidates’ forum (along with an open mic talent competition) today (Thursday, Sept. 24) from 6–10 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. 

A final candidate forum will be held in Richmond on Wednesday, Sept. 30, from 6:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. at 325 Civic Center Plaza at Macdonald Avenue. 

The fight is for members of the station’s Local Station Board, established under bylaws set up for the Pacifica Foundation, the overall nonprofit organization that runs KPFA and its sister radio stations (KPFK, Los Angeles; KPFT, Houston; WBAI, New York; and WPFW, Washington, D.C.). KPFA’s Local Station Board consists of 24 delegates, 18 elected by listener members of the station, six elected by station staff. 

Nine Local Station Board listener members are chosen in any given election. 

Only listener members of the station are eligible to vote for the listener-member delegates to the Local Station Board, and the deadline for becoming eligible for voting in this year’s election is past. 

Election ballots are sent out to station members and must be returned to the station by Oct. 14. Station members who have not received ballots are urged to contact the station. 

(KPFA membership is easy to obtain, with yearly requirements consisting of a minimum $25 donation to the station or three hours of station volunteer work.) 

Although the influence the position may hold appears obscure to non-KPFA listener members, the Local Station Board holds considerable power over the station, approving the budget, selecting the station manager, screening candidates for the station’s program director, and helping set KPFA’s programming policy. That, in turn, can affect what types of programs and program hosts will be available—or not available—to KPFA. That, in turn, can be an important position in helping to set the political agenda for the progressive movement in the Bay Area. 

Candidates who want to be elected to the nine available KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) positions generally coalesce into “slates,” and this year is no exception. Ten candidates are running on the Concerned Listeners for KPFA slate, the loose coalition that has a majority of the current members of the board. An opposing slate, Independents for Community Radio, is fielding 11 candidates. Four candidates are running on the Peoples Radio slate, two on the Voices for Justice Radio slate. Two candidates for the board are running unaffiliated. 

A list of the candidates, their website links, and their slate affiliations is below, along with links to the platforms of the various slates. 

In addition, archived audiotapes of candidate presentations are available on the KPFA LSB Election 2009 blog at http://kpfaelection2009.blogspot.com. 

Concerned Listeners for KPFA (CL) slate 

KPFA Board chair and Planet columnist Conn Hallinan, former Pacifica Radio general counsel Dan Siegel, board member Andréa J. Turner, antiwar and labor activist professor Jack Kurzweil, union organizer Virginia Rodriguez, community activist Pamela Drake, community psychiatrist and documentary filmmaker Donald Goldmacher, labor organizer and anti-war veteran Mike Smith, media professional Mark Hernandez, and arts and labor activist John Van Eyck. 

A full list and biographies of the Concerned Listeners for KPFA candidates, along with the slate platform, are available at http://concernedlisteners.org. 


Independents for Community Radio (ICR) slate 

Western Regional Director of Amnesty International USA Banafsheh Akhlaghi, Stanford student Shara Esbenshade, journalist and incumbent board member Sasha Futran, former board member Annie Hallat, Stanford University student Adam Hudson, San Francisco State University student and Palestinian-American Lara Kiswani, Hip Hop Congress founding board member Rahman Jamaal McCreadie, board incumbent Henry Norr, Berkeley Copwatch founder Andrea Prichett, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy and Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition organizer Evelyn Sanchez, and Green Party activist Akio Tanaka. 

A full list and biographies of the Independents for Community Radio candidates, along with the slate platform, are available at www.indyradio2009.org. 


Peoples Radio slate 

Board member and union activist Gerald Sanders, former board member Richard Phelps, former board member and union activist Stan Woods, peace and justice activist Jim Curtis. 

A full list and biographies of the Peoples Radio candidates, along with the slate platform, are available at www. peoplesradio.net/election2009.htm. 


Voices for Justice Radio slate 

Labor journalist Steve Zeltzer and Latino community activist Jaime Cader. 

A full list and biographies of the Voices for Justice Radio slate, along with the slate platform, are available at www. voicesforjusticeradio.org/index.htm. 


Unaffiliated candidates 

“Freelance nonviolent social critic” Judith Gips (http://pacificafoundation.org/cand_page.php?id=102) and educator Jim Weber (http://pacificafoundation.org/cand_page.php?id=141).