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Resign! Resign! Resign!

[Pacifica Campaign action info further down page]

From: Carol Spooner wildrose@p...
Date: Mon Oct 22, 2001 2:13 am
Subject: SF Examiner Story

This story was turned in by San Francisco Examiner writer Fred Dodsworth on Friday October 12th. It still hasn't run. Note: Ken Ford says it's "common sense" to sell WBAI & KPFA.

Anti-war radio in a time of patriotism
By Fred Dodsworth
Of The Examiner staff

The war for control of the Pacifica Radio network (including Bay Area station KPFA) has all the makings of a soap opera - suicide, race- baiting, gunshots, arrests, demonstrations, betrayals, sexual harassment, lawsuits, counter-suits, and the sinister shadow of big brother are all elements in this over-wrought drama. Ken Ford, vice-chairman of Washington, D.C. based Pacifica Foundation, the non-profit parent of the Pacifica Radio Network, says he is building a more professional, more listener responsive network while securing its financial future. "Pacifica has always been the voice of the powerless and the underserved and has always been hand to mouth," said Ford.

The foundation, which controls Pacifica's five radio stations, has wrested control away from the local listening communities, dismissed many of Pacifica's long-term on-air personalities in each market, and reduced the networks left-of-center, anti-war news coverage. Some critics openly speculate that the Pacifica radio network intends to become the largest network of non-profit African-American controlled radio stations in America - a move Pacifica's traditionally white-liberal base finds itself in the uncomfortable position of opposing.

Other critics suggest the network is actually becoming a covert tool of the U.S. government's counter intelligence forces - an ironic end to a radio empire started as an anti-war propaganda machine. Pacifica's foes are attempting to force the network to return to its roots as the first, last and largest anti-war voice in the national broadband wilderness.

Court battles scheduled to begin January, 2002 in Alameda County could wrest control from the African-American male dominated, Washington, D.C.-based foundation that's currently running Pacifica as a private fiefdom. The only one thing everyone agrees on in the war for this billion-dollar radio network is the vehement animosity expressed by all parties in the dispute.

Valuable Assets
"KPFA in Berkeley and WBAI in New York are in the broadcast band reserved for commercial stations," said Ford. "Let's parley these commercial licenses into more stations. I've been told non-commercial licenses sell for $30 to $40 million and commercial licenses (like KPFA and WBAI) sell for $150 to 250 million each. Think of what we could do with the difference! We could purchase other signals around the country. To me that's just common sense."

Spooks in the Shadows
"It's not by happenstance that there's so much hostility," said San Francisco attorney Peter Franck. Franck has been involved with Pacifica since the early '50s. He joined the Pacifica board in '73 and was its president from '80 through '84. "I believe the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is helping Pacifica in this battle. I think "Uncle Bob" (Robert Coonrod, president and CEO of CPB) said 'We'll see you through this fight.'

"Coonrod and Kevin Klose (president and CEO of NPR) had long careers at government propaganda radio stations like Voice of America, Radio Martine and Radio Free Europe before they came to public radio. That's what they'd like to do with Pacifica," said Franck. "They have good reason to take over Pacifica," he added. "The five stations in the Pacifica network are within reach of 22 percent of the U.S. population." Neither CPB nor Coonrod responded to requests for comments.

Follow the money
Funding is a huge problem for non-commercial radio, especially for a network that distains corporate sponsorships. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting stepped into Pacifica's funding gap and now underwrites 15 percent of its annual budget. (Half of Pacifica's expenses are fixed so CPB's contribution actually represents 30 percent of the budget under its control.)

CPB's largess does not come without strings, the first was yanked February, '99 when CPB informed Pacifica that it was out of compliance with federal regulations that required its board members to not be involved with the day to day management of any station's operation. While in the past the local station communities were well represented on the national board, compliance with these regulations dramatically diminished local representation on the national board. The national board now is overwhelmingly dominated by Washington D.C.-based African-American males, most with no history in public radio. There are four White members of the board -- of which three are also the only female members, and Tomas Moran, the lone and out-cast Latino member.

CPB offered a carrot before they yanked the string, four of Pacifica's five stations were certified by as minority run stations, entitling Pacifica to more lenient and lucrative grants, necessitating less funding from subscribing listener/sponsors and facilitating a possible change in mission for the foundation.

While Ford insisted Pacifica was not attempting to create a national Black radio network, Pacifica Foundation has accused its stations and local area boards of pandering to aging White lefties while ignoring African-American programming needs.

"So what?," asked Gendelman bluntly. "The purpose of public radio, from its inception, was not a mass audience. It was primarily for the educated, middle-class listeners. Many of our listeners have been with us since they were young. They were in the forefront of the movement for peace and justice then and they still are now. They have contributed and continue to contribute in everyway, from civil rights movement to the anti-war movement."

"Pacifica accuses us of being violent and racist in response to every complaint we make about the national board," said Sherry Gendelman, Chairwoman of the KPFA Local Advisory Board. "Whether we are concerned about their financial incompetence or their inability to create new and compelling national programs, they use that as a defense to all of our charges. "The irony is that under their leadership more people of color have fled or been driven out of Pacifica than at any time in its history," said Gendelman. Gendelman acknowledged she'd be supportive of a national all Black radio network, if it weren't Pacifica that was being taking over.

Co-intel pro?
"The cover is the creation of a black radio network," said Franck. "What they really want to do is deprive the country of a voice outside the established consensus." Franck is not alone in seeing CPB's hand as a sinister force on the tiller. Rob Robinson sits on the Pacifica board, although he is a member of the excluded minority.

"CPB is culpable," said Robinson. "NPR and the CPB have given aid and comfort to the efforts of this renegade board to break down the mission and tradition of Pacifica." Robinson and fellow board member Rabbi Aaron Kriegel filed suit against Pacifica alleging: "Pacifica has been subverted by a small group of individuals who have acted to destroy any semblance of democratic participation, lawful governance, accountability and fiduciary stewardship in order to consolidate and centralize their own hold on power within Pacifica's national governing body. ... (They) frequently met, conducted business, and made decisions ... without reporting to the Board or making minutes of the Executive Committee meetings available to the Board or the public."

Changes in the air
Within the last year, Democracy Now!, Pacifica's most popular and most radical news program was ordered off the air by the national board. While still broadcast by approximately 70 of Pacifica's "affiliated" stations, KPFA is the only Pacifica station that continues to broadcast Democracy Now! and anti-war news and analysis. WPFW, Pacifica's station in Washington, D.C., converted to all jazz, all the time, and garnered a substantial increase in its listener base. KPFT, the Houston, TX station, mostly broadcasts country and western music and it too has increased its listener base. The Pacifica Foundation instructed WBAI, its New York station, to stop reporting on terrorism and the Afghan bombing and run poetry and mood music to "let the healing begin." KPFK in Los Angeles also cut back its political reporting.

Anti-war roots
The most violent of the 20th century's disputes created Pacifica. Three years after the end of WWII and six months before its first broadcast, Lew Hill -- a conscientious objector and KPFA's founder -- wrote the following: "This project was begun as an attempt to carry a radical war resistance program into a mass medium. ... propagandizing for war resistance. It was recognized that the confidence of a large audience must be gained first, to make possible a more and more intensive cultivation of the interests of common people in resisting war, and to create a stable institutional basis for integrating this interest not only through radio programming but, through supplementary activities of a revolutionary nature." Eight years later founder Hill killed himself after Pacifica's board reversed firings he had ordered to comply with House Un-American Activities Committee demands.

Nearly 50 years later, as the U.S. and its allies bomb Afghanistan around the clock, Hill's legacy remains in question. In addition to Robinson and Kriegel's lawsuit against the Pacifica Foundation, three other suits representing listeners, local area boards, and a different group of board members goes to trial January, 2002. The suits allege everything from financial malfeasance to by-law violations.

The show goes on
For over 20 years Aileen Alfandary has co-hosted KPFA's evening news program with Mark Mericle. Although she was arrested in KPFA's newsroom 2.5 years ago when the station was temporarily seized by Pacifica, she and Mericle are still on the air. "I honestly don't know why this all happened," said Alfandary. "Pacifica's actions have been tragic and shameful. They're wasting listener's money on high priced lawyers and P.R. people that have nothing to do with Pacifica's mission. The U.S. is dropping bombs on Afghanistan. This is a time when Pacifica's voice is most needed."

E-mail Fred Dodsworth at fdodsworth@sfexaminer.com


Pacifica campaign press release and call to action:
October 24, 2001
Pacifica Campaign Action Alert

Pacifica Chief Calls for Sale of KPFA and WBAI
Compares Pacifica Reform Movement To Sept. 11 Terrorists

Pacifica Campaign Demands Immediate Resignation of Ken Ford
Phone, Fax, E-mail Protests Set

NEW YORK, (Oct. 24) -- Pacifica Radio National Board Vice-Chair Ken Ford called yesterday for the 52-year-old network to sell its flagship station in Berkeley as well as its largest station, WBAI 99.5 FM in New York City. At the same time, Ken Ford denounced opponents of the sale as "zealots" and likened them to the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks that killed some 6,000 people.

Ken Ford estimates the sale of KPFA and WBAI could fetch anywhere from $300-$500 million, the San Francisco Examiner reported Tuesday, October 23.

"KPFA in Berkeley and WBAI in New York are in the broadcast band reserved for commercial stations," Ford was quoted as saying. "I've been told non-commercial licenses sell for $30 to $40 million and commercial licenses sell for $150 to $250 million each. Think of what we could do with the difference! Let's parley these commercial licenses into more stations around the country. To me that's just common sense."

Ford also told The Examiner that community radio activists nationwide, who have criticized the fiscal mismanagement, censorship, and union-busting at the five-station Pacifica Radio network, were akin to the Sept. 11 terrorists.

"They're zealots," he said. "I see parallels between this group and Al-Qaeda, the terrorists who bombed New York. They have an innate anger towards society as a whole."

Given the current national and international climate, many civil libertarians are concerned that such reckless "terrorist-baiting" could make peace and social justice activists subject to police surveillance and investigation or even worse.

The Pacifica Campaign, a nationwide organization of listeners and staff alike fighting to preserve Pacifica's mission of community-based radio, immediately criticized Ford's call for the sale of stations and his slander of the Pacifica reform movement.

"This is further evidence that the present Pacifica leadership is aiming to sell community assets and, we believe, to pocket some of the proceeds themselves," said Bok-Keem Nyerere, a staffer with the Pacifica Campaign. "Just this past August, Pacifica Board member Bert Lee confirmed to us that financial rewards have been offered to Board members if they back a sale."

Pacifica's leadership has been attempting to amend the network's bylaws in order to permit a sale of stations without a board majority vote and for board members to financially benefit from such a sale.

Rep. Major Owens (D-NY) went on to the floor of the House of Representatives earlier this year to warn about a sale of Pacifica station WBAI in New York. "My knowledge of the reputation of certain recent appointments to the board of the Pacifica Network ... leads me to conclude that there is a clear and immediate danger that attempts will be made to sell WBAI to a commercial owner. Such a sale would mean the loss of a vital voice for working families in New York City."

For the full story: http://www.examiner.com/news/default.jsp?story=n.pacifica.1023w

See also Counterpunch's analysis and the full text of the notorious 1999 Micheal Palmer email to Mary Frances Berry that discusses plans to sell either KPFA or WBAI: http://www.freestone.com/kpfa/kpfa_email.html


• Demand No Sale of KPFA and WBAI
• Demand Ken Ford's Immediate Resignation from the Pacifica Board
• Demand an Apology by Ken Ford for his Reckless Slander of the Pacifica Reform Movement


Ken Ford
National Association of Home Builders
Pacifica Foundation Board Vice Chair
Tel: 800-368-5242 x8228
Tel: 301-350-6388
Fax: 202-822-0369

Jerry Howard, Ken Ford's Boss
NAHB Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer
Tel: 800-368-5242 x8257 or x8308
Fax: 202-266-8349

Robert Farrell
Pacifica Foundation Board Chair
Tel: 310-514-2052
Fax: 310-514-0967

John Murdock
Secretary, Pacifica Foundation
Tel: 202-861-0900
Fax: 202-296-2882

Wendell L. Johns
Treasurer, Pacifica Foundation
Fannie Mae
Washington, DC
Tel: 202-752-5355
Fax: 202-752-4281

Valrie Chambers
Board Member
Tel: 361-825-6012
Fax: 281-655-0266

Bert Lee
Board Member
Tel: 202-248-1896
Fax: 202-244-1151


Cut the below list of email addresses, paste it into the To: line of your email composition form, and then cut and paste the text of the letter or compose your own, and send it. Also go to: http://www.progressiveportal.org/letters/pacifica/ford/

kford@nahb.com, KenFordPacifica@aol.com, bsmith@nahbofficer.com, jhoward@nahb.com, tomasmoran@aol.com, jmurdock@ebglaw.com, wendell_L_johns@fanniemae.com, Alfigo@aol.com, Valrie.Chambers@mail.tamucc.edu, ValrieChambers@aol.com, jmurdock@ebglaw.com, HARAV1@aol.com, robrobin@erols.com, lesliecagan@igc.org, prbram@aol.com, bmwpacifica@aol.com, JSPacifica@aol.com, gbarnstone@pdq.net, dick@dickgregory.com, krishnaroy@aol.com, jferguson@cnbc.org, voterparticipate@netscape.net, rwlc@aol.com, pacificacampaign@yahoo.com,

Sample Text Dear Pacifica Board member,

Pacifica Board Vice-Chair Ken Ford's reckless call in the San Francisco Examiner for the sale of Pacifica stations KPFA and WBAI for $300-$500 million represents an abrogation of his responsibility as a steward of the Pacifica Radio network. He should resign immediately.

Further, we are appalled that Ken Ford has compared critics of Pacifica management to those who've carried out the Sept. 11 attacks that killed 6,000 people.

"They're zealots," he said of the nationwide group of free speech and community radio activists who have criticized the mismanagement, chaos, censorship, and union-busting at the five-station Pacifica Radio network. "I see parallels between this group and al Qaeda, the terrorists who bombed New York. They have an innate anger towards society as a whole."

Ken Ford is being insensitive not only to those who have lost their lives and their family members in the Sept. 11 attacks. But he is insulting the tens of thousands of Pacifica listeners, staffers, national board members, and wide sectors of the community radio movement nationwide who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights in urging accountability and democratic reform at the country's oldest listener-sponsored radio network.

Ken Ford has repeatedly sought to slander our movement as violent, as terrorists and extortionists. Not one shred of evidence has ever been offered to substantiate these allegations. He has also threatened members of the public with prosecution by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and says he reported some to the FBI for the crime of sending him a critical email. Clearly, he has no appreciation for the First Amendment or civil liberties. His term on the Board has expired. He should resign immediately.


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