Democracy Now ! Preempted at WBAI, KPFK and WPFW 5-16-01
Today, Democracy Now ! was prempted at WBAI and KPFK, and parts of the program did not air at WPFW.
Many are concerned that these "fund drive pre-emptions" of Democracy Now! are the beginning of a final push to take DN! off the air altogether. The pre-emption of DN! at the show's home station WBAI follows its expulsion from the main control room to a satellite production studio yesterday, a move that enables WBAI management to censor portions of the broadcast as it goes out live.
What you can do*****
1)Call the pledge line at WBAI 212-209-2950 and KPFK 818-985- 5735 and demand that Democracy Now be restored uncensored tomorrow, and that the harssment and censorship of its crew cease.
2) Support the boycott of fundraising called for by the Pacifica Campaign www.pacificacampaign.org
This action against DN! at KPFK follows a letter sent to Amy Goodman, signed by 17 KPFK producers, criticizing her show sign- off "from the studios of the banned and fired" as potentially damaging to fundraising.
The letter, reproduced below contains a variety of false statements. One glaring untruth is that any of the signers are raising Amy's salary. Rather, Amy has been brought on the various stations to raise not only DN's costs, but additional monies which are applied to other purposes. PNN does no fundraising at all, and is supported by the fundraising efforts of local stations.
Furthermore, regarding the signers: at least half of them are music/cultural programmers whose programs are apolitical. The statement that management has not interfered with program content is blatantly untrue particularly in the case of Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who complained of receiving detailed instructions regarding his content from former KPFK "program director" Kathy Lo.
While the other signers of the letter below may not have been interfered with, others whose views were not congruent with the official line have been.
Among the interferences at KPFK :
a directive that Latino news/public affairs producers not pronounce
Spanish words with a Spanish accent;
that programmers not encourage attendance at anti-war
that programmers cut callers off the air who raise Pacifica issues
or face removal;
that programmers not use certain language that alienates "an older
that instructions that programmers mainstream political their
content in order to "increase audience."
For the larger picture of political censorship at Pacifica,
We're writing to ask for your full, unequivocal support during our up- coming fund drive. We are concerned that the past four months you have signed off your show, "Democracy Now," by declaring that your broadcast had come "from the embattled studios of WBAI -- the studios of the banned and the fired"
We are convinced that for you to continue signing off in this manner during our up-coming fund drive, would not only be antithetical to our money raising efforts, but put you squarely in the camp of those seeking to sabotage those efforts. We ask therefore, that you stop discussing Pacifica's problems on-air, and do nothing detrimental to our fund drive.
As a Pacifica veteran, you know that this rule has existed for decades -- and for good reason. Our listeners support us because we are a bastion of truth and alternative politics and culture, one of the few left in a broadcast medium in which almost else operates under the thumb of a homogenized, monopolistic corporate media. In this age of George W. Bush, we are, as you yourself regularly put it, the one "exception to the rulers."
As you are also aware, only the dollars of our listener-sponsors, the hard work of our tiny, low-paid staff and the goodwill of our hundreds of unpaid volunteers, enables KPFK -- and we, its programmers -- to remain on the air. Unlike yourself, many of us are also unpaid; and devote uncountable hours to KPFK because we passionately believe in Lou Hill's anti-war vision of social- justice, and of a radio station answerable to no one other than its own listener-sponsors.
As we're sure you're also aware, your one-hour show, "Democracy Now," airs twice daily in and around prime drive-time on our station, and a substantial amount of the money we raise at KPFK goes to support your show and pay your salary.
That is one big reason why we're convinced it would be exceedingly harmful for you to do anything less next week than give our fund- drive your whole-hearted support on-air, and to mention supporting KPFK by name as our fund-drive unfolds. A full commitment is needed from all of us, of course, because of our proud refusal to accept ccorporate underwriting; and -- with the exception of a small grant from the federally funded CPB -- to exist solely on the funds we receive directly from our listeners.
But there's another reason we expect your full cooperation. For the past several years now, a small group of dissident picketers have appeared outside our studio on the first day of our fund drive; determined to undo our hard work, and our struggle to make KPFK a relevant force in Southern California. This time, however, this group is also calling for our listeners to engage in an economic boycott of our station.
In a letter dated just four days ago, for example, your former colleague, Juan Gonzalez, sent a letter to many of us literally urging that we sabotage KPFK's summer fund drive. "Do not work overtime to find attractive premiums," wrote Gonzalez, "shave off minutes from your actual time pitching funds [and] privately encourage listeners who are friends of yours to withhold their contributions."
Such calls are new, but not the rumors, lies and distortions that have already been denounced in a letter signed by 90% of KPFK's staff about 18 months ago. The biggest of those lies is that we -- the station's programmers -- are being censored by the management of KPFK.
Although you occupy 10 hours a week on our airways, you're 3,000 miles away in New York, and therefore have no direct knowledge of what takes place at KPFK. So we'd like to take this opportunity to set the record straight and ease any doubts you might have on this issue. Other than the very few occasions of out-right, on-air, racism and anti-Semitism, and violations of the dirty laundry rule, management has never once interfered with the content of our shows. Nor would we tolerate such interference.
Those of us at KPFK fortunate enough to speak for millions of voiceless people living here in Southern California take our responsibility very seriously. We feel that to let internecine politics and power plays interfere with our mission at a time when all that Pacifica stands for is under great threat, is myopic and irresponsible.
That is why we are taking our up-coming fund drive so seriously, and are urging you to do the same.
Joe Domanick -- "Beneath the Surface"
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