To the Editor of The Nation,
It would be the New Age Right Thing to Do to credit the Pacifica hierarchy for their itsy bitsy concessions. I'd rather demonize them.
Dr. Mary Frances Berry, the Pacifica's Executive Committee and Executive Director Lynn Chadwick, hereafter "The Demons," are liers determined to destroy listener- sponsored radio, already a minority of five.*
People of good will, such as the editors of the Nation, will think I overstate the case because, for one thing, "follow the money" doesn't seem to apply in this case (although arbitrage fees on sale of a station would be a pretty penny).
But money isn't why The Demons say PC words as they do exactly the opposite. True, it may merely be incredible incompetence that led to firing (oops, I mean "non-renewal of") Nicole Sawaya, the best station manager at Pacifica in years. But I think the reason is far more likely to be wily counterintelligence.
Sawaya interfered with the now obvious plan to "fire the listeners." Under her watch, more people were tuning in from a broader spectrum of the signal area, more people sent in money, the staff was happier than ever before, and more programming innovations were happening. That was not OK with The Demons.
It will take years and a lot of FOI forms to discover if The Demons were inspired by the federal government (does that shock NATION readers?) to silence or neutralize the plucky little network which reports--almost alone--on issues other media ignore---not only global socio-economic- politico-eco disasters, but also the "good news" ideas like preferential voting, third parties, challenging corporate charters, community money, alternative healthcare, as well as access information. How often have you heard the White House comment number given out on NPR? Motive and opportunity---The Demons have not relinquished these. That is why we in the streets won't relinquish the slogans and activism and follow your reasonable advice: "All parties must now work to preserve it." Been there, done that.
Two years ago, my naivete' was vast when I first joined KPFA's Local Advisory (Window Dressing) Board. The Five Year Strategic Plan (increase paid programmers, increase foundation funding) seemed quite reasonable.
Yes, once I believed that The Demons wanted First Amendment Radio, they just had some different ideas of how to achieve it. But that wolf (pardon my specieist stereotyping!) in sheep's clothing will never turn into an herbivore.
Suppose Pacifica's National Governing Board did, as you recommend, "make a formal commitment that it will sell no radio stations without consulting the listeners and staff." That's as reliable as a batterer's promise to "never do it again."
We must fire The Demons who have amply demonstrated their core disbelief in collaborative decision-making, in listener-sponsorship, and in the right of Americans to hear the unvarnished truth. And not just those people, we must fire the CONCEPT of hierarchical national control, which Pacifica managment illegally grabbed thirty years ago, according to the FCC---although the FCC never got around to undoing the damage. It's not too late for democratic, local control of Pacifica stations. Only then will Pacifica's demons become human again.
Member of the KPFA Local Advisory Board
*There are two types of non-commercial radio stations. Nowadays, PUBLIC radio, so closely identified with NPR, has foundation support and corporate underwriting, and is only partly listener-sponsored. Most COMMUNITY stations enhance their listener support with paid advertising--- which I find a lot more palletable than either corporate or foundation money, because these tend to be small local businesses and it is still a fraction of the total income. But even the community stations are vulnerable to self- censorship to keep advertisers happy.
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