Boycott statement from the Pacifica Campaign
An Appeal from Juan Gonzalez Coordinator Pacifica Campaign
For more than half a century, even in wartime, listener-sponsored, community-based Pacifica Radio has always been a trailblazer: uncovering the truth, questioning conventional wisdom and promoting a real diversity of views. But not any more -- Pacifica executives, beholden to a new leadership of corporate raiders and Beltway politicians, are now wreaking havoc with the network. They've fired and banned scores of dedicated producers, replaced public affairs programs with hours of music, diluted the political content of news at four of the five stations, and moved Pacifica headquarters from Berkeley to Washington, D.C. They've even tried to alter Pacifica's bylaws to make it easier to sell five valuable FM frequencies estimated to be worth half a billion dollars -- and pocket some of the proceeds themselves.
After five of their colleagues were forced to resign in the past year, the clique that seized control of the Pacifica Board in 1999 engineered an "election" last month to add five new members. They hired the most expensive and influential Beltway consultants and lawyers, including President Clinton's impeachment trial lawyer, Greg Craig of Williams & Connolly, and the PR firm of Westhill Partners, which attempted to destroy tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand (as depicted in the movie, The Insider). In 2000, they spent a staggering $500,000 of listener money on anti-union law firms and $440,000 more on security. One Board member estimates this year's legal bills topped $1 million. Can we allow this cabal to destroy the radio legacy established by several generations of feisty rebels and dissenters like Pacifica founder Lew Hill?
The answer is clear: No, we can't. During the stations' Fall Fund Drives, it's important to realize that every cent contributed goes directly to Pacifica's Washington headquarters. If you deny them the listener donations they have taken for granted for so long, you can stop them in their tracks. That's why we're asking you to join the boycott of fund drives at all five Pacifica stations: WBAI (New York), WPFW (Washington), KPFT (Houston), KPFK (Los Angeles) and KPFA (Berkeley).
At the same time, we must continue to support the real Pacifica -- the banished producers and programmers who are building a network-in-exile and providing the kind of news and analysis that you used to expect from Pacifica. While our foes harass and slander Amy Goodman and the "Democracy Now!" staff, the Pacifica Campaign has helped maintain and expand the award-winning program's outreach. We helped launch Free Speech Radio News' daily 30-minute report, prepared by striking Pacifica freelancers, that now airs on some 50 community stations nationwide. And we're actively supporting the web-based station, WBIX.org, which features "fired and banned" former producers from WBAI, WPFW and KPFK.
Actors like Danny Glover and Ben Affleck, writers like Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Alice Walker and journalists like Mumia Abu-Jamal and Nat Hentoff are among the thousands of listeners who have joined the Pacifica reform movement. Labor unions, environmental defenders, disability rights groups and media activists worldwide are pitching in. Jack O'Dell, the former top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who chaired the Pacifica Board for 20 years until 1997, recently sent "warmest congratulations to all of you whose hard work, vision and organizing skills have, at long last, opened the way to the restoration of Pacifica as the flagship of informed, progressive, listener-supported radio in our country."
In this struggle, we've been cast as David confronting Goliath. As you know, David won -- and with your help, it will happen again. Please contribute what you can to the Pacifica Campaign, and boycott all Pacifica fund drives. Don't let the ravenous vultures devour free-speech radio. Together we can win!
November 8, 2001
MAJOR DONORS JOIN NATIONAL BOYCOTT OF L.A. COMMUNITY RADIO STATION
Pledge to Withhold $100,000 in Funding to Embattled Progressive Radio Network Until it Settles Lawsuits
Sponsors to Deliver Hundreds of Protest Signatures to Station's General Manager
LOS ANGELES, (Nov. 8) -- A dozen long-time financial supporters have pledged to withdraw their donations from Los Angeles-based KPFK until the station's parent organization, the Pacifica Foundation, returns the network to its pacifist mission of peace and social justice.
"Our money has been used to destroy the only independent radio network in the United States. We want to build community radio, not destroy it," said A. J. Stasney, who has donated tens of thousands of dollars over 25 years, "It's time for the Foundation to settle the lawsuits so we can begin to repair the damage."
KPFK is part of the Pacifica Radio Network, a nonprofit organization that has been embroiled in controversy since 1999, when the network's managers shut down KPFK's sister station, KPFA in Berkeley. That shut down caused the largest protests in Berkeley since then Vietnam War. In December 2000, Pacifica "re-programmed" its New York City station, WBAI, by firing and banning long-time programmers and eviscerating the station's progressive political programming.
Most recently, Pacifica suspended without pay Amy Goodman, host of the network's award-winning show Democracy Now! and removed Democracy Now! from the airwaves of KPFK and most of the other Pacifica stations.
WHAT: KPFK donors deliver letter of protest while listeners hold picket
In response to the evisceration of local democracy and the gross mismanagment at the five-station network, four lawsuits have been filed against the Pacifica Foundation. Freelance journalists refuse to work for Pacifica because of its notorious censorship policies. And a national campaign was launched earlier this year to boycott Pacifica fundraising efforts and unseat the board of directors members who are responsible for the imbroglio.
Late last week plaintiffs in four lawsuits filed against the Pacifica Foundation announced that they expected to reach an agreement with Pacifica that could put an end to the struggles at Pacifica. As of today Pacifica Foundation has not signed which is of great concern to many listeners across the nation.
KPFK's listener support and funding, like many public radio stations nationwide, would normally swell during a time of war. But the announcement by major donors that they will withhold their funds from KPFK is just the latest of the station's fundraising problems. Listeners are boycotting the fund drive and placed advertisements in Los Angeles newspapers discouraging listeners from donating to KPFK.
"Hundreds of thousands of dollars in listener funds have been used to pay high-prices lawyers who are working to destroy the Pacifica Network. Not one more penny should be given to Pacifica until democratic control of the network by the local community is restored," said Farah Davari of the Pacifica Campaign's Los Angeles office.
According to the IRS and an independent audit of the Pacifica Foundation, the network has spent:
$440,000 in 1999 to pay for security guards and related expenses to lock down KPFA.
$525,000 in 2000 paid to Epstein Becker and Green and other union-busting law firms.
In the year 2000, nearly 30 cents of every dollar donated to the local stations was sent to the Washington, D.C.-based Pacifica. This year, Pacifica has hired to fight its own listeners: Law firms such as Williams & Connolly, Fulbright & Jawarski, and the public relations firm Westhill Partners, which has whose founder John Scanlon represented big tobacco companies against whistleblower Jeffery Wigland and politicians with image problems.
LETTER FROM MAJOR DONORS TO PACIFICA RADIO
November 7, 2001
We are writing as a group of listener-sponsors to inform you that we have reached a decision to withhold financial support to KPFK due to the significant change in direction of KPFK' s programming. Our concerns about this change of direction are of sufficient magnitude that we will actively seek to influence others not to support KPFK until such time as our concerns are resolved. As longstanding and loyal supporters of KPFK, we take this step with great reluctance.
We are in a very dangerous historical moment in which the need for an alternative perspective in media is greater than ever. The unavailability of programs such as Democracy Now! and Alternative Radio at KPFK is simply unacceptable. We believe that you are in a position to resume broadcasting these shows immediately, and that your doing so would begin the process of restoring KPFK to the important place it once held in the community.
While KPFK was once the one place on the radio dial a listener could find a diverse and consistently provocative political perspective, this is not the case any longer. On a local level, while KPFK once played a central organizational role by informing the community about important events and activities in Southern California, it does so no longer. While the KPFK programming once reflected the diverse communities of Los Angeles, this is no longer the case. We believe that KPFK must make specific changes in programming if it is to live up fully to the Pacifica mission.
Further, we are concerned that our donations would be used by Pacifica to defend itself in lawsuits arising from the illegal changes to the by-laws made by the Pacifica National Board (PNB). We support these suits, and are not willing to risk our money being used to finance the PNB's frivolous defense.
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