Public Comment

KPFA Management

By Richard Phelps
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 11:33:00 AM

Does the Current Concerned Listener Management Group at KPFA Understand What Pacifica is About? Do They Care About  Pacifica’s Mission to Present Multiple Views? 


Less than 72 hours after the Staff ballots were given a preliminary hand count showing that the CL/Management Group had lost two of the three staff seats up for election, and their one incumbent finished last, they were on the air for an hour arguing that the democratic process doesn’t work. The full hour of Tuesday’s “Against the Grain” was given to three CL/Management Group supporters/endorsers. No one from the listener activist community was invited on and no questions or comments from listeners were taken. 


Matthew Lasar and Eileen Alfandary were the guests on a program hosted by Sasha Lilley. They briefly went through the history of KPFA and Pacifica over the last twenty years and every issue covered had their particular slant to it. Matthew Lasar played a sound bite from a recent Pacifica National Board Meeting in New York where lots of people were yelling and disrupting the meeting. It was an example of democracy gone wrong. What he didn’t tell the listeners was that the people disrupting the meeting were the WBAI Justice and Unity folks, the same folks that the CL/Management Group colluded with to maintain each group’s local power outside the Foundation Bylaws causing financial disaster at WBAI and eventually at Pacifica. The full story of this collusion was printed in the Planet on May 14, 2004 and can be found in the Planet archives or at'09_2issues.htm . 


They consistently spoke of the need for journalistic integrity and how that couldn’t be maintained with Local Station Board (LSB) members constantly demanding programming changes. This was an extreme exaggeration of the real history. They used Democracy Now! as an example of attempts at political manipulation given a recent motion to have all major donors of programmers disclosed. They mentioned nothing about the refusal of this management group and its predecessor’s refusal to move Democracy Now! to prime time after a vote by the Program Council and the LSB based on wide popular support for the move. It is also basic radio philosophy that you put you best program in Prime Time. 


The CL spoke a lot about professionalism as one of their campaign themes in the recent election and yet when a professional no brainer like putting the strongest program in prime time went against their group members desire to keep their program in prime time, professionalism was ignored. It appears they put themselves above the well being of the station and the Foundation. 


Another example of this is this program itself. What kind of journalistic integrity do you have when you, in the Fox news MO, cover a very controversial topic with three people from the same narrow point of view? A point of view that clearly doesn’t have the majority support of the 160 members of the Staff that voted. That was 70% of the Staff . 


At the end of the election in 2007 the only news story on the election interviewed Matthew Lasar, Dan Siegel, Larry Bensky, Sherry Gendelman, and Casey Peters the National Election Supervisor (NES). All of these folks other than the NES were/are CL/Management Group members/supporters/endorsers. Similar themes with Tuesday’s program were aired, democracy is too expensive is one of their constant themes. But look at the cost of autocratic control. Tuesday’s program is a good example. 


A request for equal time to respond has been made to counter this very one-sided political commentary disguised as an objective public affairs program. A true test of the CL/Management Groups commitment to the Pacifica Mission will be shown by their response to the request for equal time to respond. Running a program like they did  makes it very clear why the listeners that donate all the money to run the station must not allow a small self appointed group to run the station and have control of the microphone. 


When I was Chair of the LSB I always invited all sides to be on the LSB Report programs that I produced or hosted. I considered it the ONLY proper protocol for a Pacifica station governance report. The current CL/Management Group obviously doesn’t share my perspective. Are they afraid that their positions can’t handle an open discussion/debate? 


Richard Phelps, former Chair KPFA LSB.