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Boycott: An Open letter to
the KPFA Community 5-11-01

Open Letter
Date:Fri, 11 May 2001 01:00:21 -0700

An Open letter to the KPFA Community

[While addressed to the KPFA Community, I think this letter is pertinent to all five Pacifica stations. I hope other station listeners will set up trust funds, or that a national fund will be established. Let me know if you do, and I'll pass the word on. --Carol Spooner]

We are friends and supporters of KPFA who will not be pledging during the station's upcoming fund drive. We want you to know why.

We have reluctantly concluded that a boycott is necessary if the dictatorial management of Pacifica is to be kept from destroying the network. The Pacifica Foundation collects and controls all subscriber donations to KPFA and keeps a percentage of our contributions to the station to fund its operations and activities. We can no longer support those activities.

Over the past two years we have been involved in a struggle over the direction of Pacifica and the fate of KPFA. Pacifica's present board of directors and its executive director are trying to change the essence of our network. They have demanded diluted news and public affairs programs, they have instituted autocratic administrative control, and absolute fiscal control. They have censored the news and other programs and announced their intention to use commercial radio market values as Pacifica's measure of success. They have pushed these goals with apparent disdain for the for the principles that have guided the network throughout its long and proud history and for the people who support Pacifica.

There is nothing ambiguous about the intentions of the current board majority. They tried to take over KPFA once. They abandoned that effort in the face of extraordinary community resistance. However, since the summer of 1999 they have succeeded in removing progressive leadership from Pacifica National News; they organized a coup at WBAI in New York; and Democracy Now! is under fierce attack. If we allow this group to succeed in subduing the rest of the network they will resume their attempted takeover of KPFA. And they will be stronger and better prepared the second time. WBAI, KPFA's sister station in New York, is fighting for its life. To save the station and the network that station's defenders have called for a funding boycott. KPFA's democratically elected Local Advisory Board has also endorsed a listener boycott of KPFA's fundraisers until the offending board members are removed or resign. We too believe that we have to deny the present Pacifica leadership the resources that keep them in power.

The listening community has given dramatic support to our struggle. We have raised and spent thousands of dollars to file and prosecute lawsuits aimed at rolling back the current board's illegal acts. In response, the current board majority has spent even more listener-contributed dollars on high priced lawyers to oppose and stall those lawsuits. Some of the money you have donated to the struggle to retake Pacifica bought newspaper and magazine ads to inform a larger audience about what the current board has done. Again, the board's response has been to spend even more of the listeners' money for spin doctors who tell the press that the opposition to Pacifica's takeover is violent, racist and marginal. This Board used your dollars to board up KPFA and hire armed guards to keep us out. They used our money to install a security system at WBAI intended to keep listeners and even the WBAI Local Advisory Board out of the station. They have spent our money to legally harass activists who have set up web sites which criticize the board's misconduct. We strategize over potato chips at late night meetings in our homes and offices; they fly themselves and their staff to first class hotels at our expense to plan their next assault. Most importantly, they fire or drive out Pacifica's best programmers, reporters, and administrators and use our money to hire obedient replacements. We are resilient and resourceful but we can not win a struggle by financing both sides.

The genius of establishing the world's first listener-sponsored radio station and later a listener-sponsored radio network was that it created a media outlet that was accountable to listeners. That accountability is nothing but a fiction if we will not, even in such a dire circumstance, exercise our power to refuse to fund what we oppose.

We do not criticize KPFA for holding a fundraising drive. The paid staff is contractually obliged to organize and participate in fundraising. And we do not condemn those who ask for money in KPFA's fundraisers. Honest people can differ over strategies. But we will no longer contribute to our own downfall. And we think that it is time for others to join us.

Please consider making your usual KPFA contribution to the Station Support Fund instead. All of the money collected by this fund will be available to support KPFA and its operations. None of it will support the present board's attacks on our station and on the principles that have guided Pacifica throughout its history.

Contributions can be sent to :
The Station Support Fund,
c/o The Agape Foundation
1095 Market Street Suite 304
San Francisco California 94103


Dan Coughlin: Former Director of Pacifica National News
Sherry Gendelman: Chair, KPFA Local Advisory Board, Plaintiff in LAB lawsuit
Juan Gonzalez: Former Co-Host of Democracy Now!
Barbara Lubin: Executive Director of Middle East Children's Alliance, Co-Founder Friends of Free Speech Radio
Robbie Osman: Host of Across the Great Divide, Co-Founder Friends of Free Speech Radio
Carol Spooner: Founder Committee to Remove the Pacifica Board, Plaintiff in Listener's Lawsuit
Bernard White: Former Program Director of WBAI

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