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Getting the perspective in perspective

From: Cathy Melio
Date: Fri Feb 22, 2002 12:06 am
Subject: Pacifica Affiliates

Saul Landau was obviously wrong when he said that "those who have waged war against Pacifica have won." They lost, Saul. Thank goodness, they lost. Taking back Pacifica has given me great hope that we will take back our planet someday.

Pacifica Network News was at best, on life support long before PNN's final broadcast last friday. For many affiliate stations and listeners nationwide, PNN had already died. A large number of Pacifica Affiliates had dropped PNN in a steady stream following the KPFA takeover. It was acknowledged by many affiliates and listeners that PNN's quality had greatly declined since 1999, and that the mainstreaming of its content was not "ridiculous" as Saul stated, but glaringly obvious. Affiliates made the decision to drop PNN in consultation with our staffs, volunteers, boards, and listeners, because that is how we make decisions at grassroots community radio stations - collaboratively, in the open, on the air, and in our program guides.

Free Speech Radio News, produced by the striking (yes, I said "striking") reporters was embraced by affiliates and is now being broadcast by more than 50 stations nationwide. Contrast that number with the few remaining affiliates which were still airing PNN. Speaks for itself doesn't it?

The Interim Management of Pacifica was wise to put PNN out of its misery, particularly in light of facing the current huge debt, and the lack of support for PNN among affiliates, as well as among listeners to their own five stations.

The time is ripe for Pacifica to face and embrace the potential of the affiliate network. In the heat of the Pacifica wars, a movement of grassroots community radio came together which has the potential to help Pacifica rebuild out of this massive hole. It is not totally about how much money the affiliates pay to Pacifica. We represent something bigger than the money we pay to be affiliates. The focus on money was one thing that got us into trouble in the first place, remember? Who really cares that Schubb increased the listener numbers if he dumbed down the programming and disregarded Pacifica's mission? The Pheonix that is rising will be a new breed among this endangered species of independent free speech community radio.

Saul Landau also stated in his final commentary that the listeners were confused by hearing about the Pacifica crisis. Perhaps at some of the five Pacifica stations because of the censorship of information about the crisis, listeners were confused by it all, but at our stations we had been informing listeners and engaging them in dialogue about the Pacifica crisis since 1995. Our listeners are now informed enough to be more aware of governance at our own stations, having an understanding of what to pay attention to in an effort to avoid similar takeovers, censorship, or mainstreaming.

The Old Pacifica discounted the affiliates, ignored us, ignored our organized national actions of solidarity and outrage. In doing so, they also ignored the great potential of the affiliate network.

May the New Pacifica embrace a different vision of the affiliate network and what our many listeners represent. Without us, you are five stations. With us you are not only New York City, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Houston, and Washington, D.C. With us you are also Boulder, Tampa, Madison, Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, Portland, Albuquerque, New York, and many, many other places. Do not do as the previous management and board did, discounting us as sixty "small" stations. Think bigger than they did, for while you may still think of us as small, we have built an alliance, through the Grassroots Radio Coalition, through the Internet, through our own broadcasts and actions, in collaboration with other independent media. A strong affiliate network could actually play a role in helping to reduce the massive debt incurred by the former raiders of Pacifica, perhaps not directly, but through raising national awareness of the situation.

Don't be too busy to notice that the affiliate network is already here, with the potential to actually do something. Pacifica is made more special and powerful by the fact that you can go all over the country and hear Democracy Now! in so many places. Without us, Pacifica would only be in the isolated pockets of your five cities. Big cities? Yes. Many listeners? Yes. But that still does not equal the synergy that could be created by really connecting with the affiliate network. Don't think that it can happen later. Tend to it as part of the whole rebuilding picture, because it is. There is an opportunity right now to open up in a big way.

Leslie Cagan addressed the affiliates directly recently on the GRC listserv, in relation to how various stations are reacting regarding re-affiliation with Pacifica. She has offered a meeting with affiliates at the NFCB conference. I hope NFCB is encouraging that to take place. These dialogues must happen. They will certainly happen at the Grassroots Radio Conference in New York this summer when WJFF hosts GRC7.

Imagine a network of 100 Pacifica affiliates or more. Imagine helping to radicalize some of the community stations that are currently in the NPR mindset. Hey, we imagined saving Pacifica when things looked pretty bleak, didn't we? Don't stop now. Those who waged war against Pacifica have lost. They took alot out of us, but they are moving on, and We Are Pacifica, all of us.

Peace & Solidarity,
Cathy Melio
GRC & WERU FM Volunteer
(Optimistic Activist)

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