Resign! Resign! Resign!
[Pacifica Campaign action info further down page]
From: Carol Spooner wildrose@p...
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
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.
Spooks in the Shadows
"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
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.
"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.
"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
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
E-mail Fred Dodsworth at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pacifica campaign press release and call to action:
Pacifica Chief Calls for Sale of KPFA and WBAI
Pacifica Campaign Demands Immediate Resignation of Ken Ford
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
PLEASE TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION
1) CALL AND/OR FAX THE FOLLOWING
Jerry Howard, Ken Ford's Boss
Wendell L. Johns
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/
email@example.com, KenFordPacifica@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, wendell_L_johns@fanniemae.com, Alfigo@aol.com, Valrie.Chambers@mail.tamucc.edu, ValrieChambers@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, HARAV1@aol.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, JSPacifica@aol.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.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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