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Another reality spews forth at KPFK

Pacifica comentator Landau would have you believe that, "It is ridiculous to try to say let’s get the listening audience to vote." and that [KPFK manager Cooper]..."was fired last week without cause." (Saul Landau's truth distorting last commentary is towards bottom of page)


From: myla reson
Date: Sat Feb 16, 2002 7:47 pm
Subject: transcript: cooper/landau re pacifica

I just finished transcribing yesterday's chat regarding Pacifica between Marc Cooper and Saul Landau - the conversation was heard on kpfk towards the end of Cooper's "Daily Review" which airs between 4 and 5 PM on KPFK - enjoy:


Marc Cooper:… My guest is Saul Landau, director of digital media programs and international outreach at the college of letters, arts and social sciences at California State Polytechnic, University at Pomona. Saul has just returned from Cuba. As you just heard and apart from his professorial work, Saul is a poet, he’s a author, journalist, a film maker and a busy guy.

One of the things that Saul’s been doing for a number of years is that he’s done more than a thousand regular commentaries on the Pacifica National News, which is the national newscast that Pacifica’s put on the air for the last twenty-one years or so. Every day for a half hour that used to go out until today to dozens of affiliates across the country. Pacifica closed down that unit, laid off its workers and uh terminated that newscast today.

Saul you drew the lucky lot and uh you uh were able to do the - you had the last word – you did the final commentary which was uh I have to say it was pretty angry, wasn’t it?

Saul Landau: Well that’s how I felt. I feel that every time the Left manages to destroy one of its few institutions – it’s a sad day for people who consider themselves to be progressive.

MC: um hmmm

SL: And I thought that uh, I mean after having done commentaries now since 1994, on a very regular basis, uh that it’s sometimes up to four or five a week. I thought that at least the interim board or management would consult me inform me uh, let me know that this was the last newscast. No - not a word.

MC: um hmmm

SL: I heard nothing from them. I heard only from the Pacifica news staff itself that uh they had met earlier this week with the new board and management and were told it’s all over, and it’s all for budgetary reasons.

MC: um hmm

SL: Although, uh, they didn’t exactly explain why, and why they had to do it in the course of three days – which is what they did.

MC: Well, there’s been, as you well know, there’s been a political uh faction fight underway at Pacifica over the last couple of years at Pacifica that involved a number of lawsuits that finally drained this network of uh its money and as we speak uh Pacifica basically has no money. But uh to be fair uh those people who now run the network argue that the old Pacifica – the one of up to two or three weeks ago have lost its way, and that uh have become part of the mainstream and was threatening to become part of the corporate media and that um that those of us I guess that had been here at that time had sold out the mission of Pacifica and I want to read you uh a statement from uh the executive director the new executive director of Pacifica uh Dan Coughlin uh who uh was speaking on KPFA a week or so ago and referring to KPFK for example he said the stations’ paid staff uh is divided from the community that has supported the station for decades uh implying very directly that , for example, the people listening right now and who support KPFK aren’t our real traditional supporters and are somehow inauthentic. um is there any uh from the perspective that you hold uh as an activist for more than forty five years on the left. Do you think there’s any truth in that statement?

SL: Well, I think the only truth in it was that Pacifica’s board and management over the last couple of years had lost its way.

MC: um hmm

SL: That is – I’m not sure that it had a way that it could have lost -

MC: um hmm - I was gonna say - I’ve known this organization for twenty years. The board and management of Pacifica has usually been lost but go ahead

SL: Yes, but that it sold out – that it betrayed its mission – all that is to my mind is utter nonsense. I listen to KPFK often and I find several of the shows always interesting if not down right compelling.

MC: um hmm

SL: And I think its rich in diversity. And I think, you know, people have been talking that Pacifica is not democratic – and I seriously, Marc, don’t understand that because democracy in radio terms has to be participatory

MC: hm

SL: That is if you don’t like what you’re hearing - you change the station

MC: Sure

SL: or stick in a tape

MC: Sure

SL: It is ridiculous to try to say let’s get the listening audience to vote. The listening audience changes all the time, and has different degrees of interest and passion. And by its nature, radio is something that talks at you or plays music at you. And if you like it you listen. And then you absorb and you learn from it. And I for one, uh learn from Pacifica. I like your show. I like Suzi Weismann’s show.

MC: um hmm

SL: I like Kaufman’s show.

MC: Well, you wrote - uh - you wrote a - a – a – a - you helped put together a note or a letter a couple of years ago – about two years ago – uh – an open letter to progressives asking them to end the um the wars around Pacifica. And uh that call was not heeded. And here we are five million dollars later. Uh, would you - uh – how do you look at that move by yours in retrospect?

SL: Well I look at it in retrospect as an act of futility…

MC: hm

SL: That is for my request - which was that people stop the war on Pacifica and somehow try to settle this in a different way – I received oh countless emails, letters and phone calls of real abuse including death threats from people who claim themselves to be Pacifica activists – most of these, of course, were people I did not know. One leading left intellectual called me "the most divisive figure on the left since the end of the cold war".

MC: Clearly!

SL: Yeah!

MC: heh, heh, heh, heh

SL: And another one wrote to the president of the university where I am and asked that he fire me.

MC: Sure

SL: This is the kind of activity that I began to observe. So instead of picketing the Enron executives - instead of picketing the white house - instead of attacking real political and economic power – these political activists picketed the homes of middle class or lower middle class people who were on the board screaming and shouting

MC: On the Pacifica board

SL: On the Pacifica board – shouting terrible things about them until. of course, they got them to quit – um – it was – these were tactics that were extremely ugly. I met one of the people that was in the "Save Pacifica" movement – he said to me the other day, "well, you know there’s a loony fringe that attaches itself even to the peace movement. And that this loony fringe had attached itself to the "Save Pacifica" movement, as well. I said, "well, I didn’t see anyone saying that in public."

MC: heh, heh, right

SL: These people were speaking for this movement and it’s – and it’s been very ugly

MC: [unintelligible remark]

SL: It’s a non-regenerative issue in the sense that it – I don’t see a radio network as the kind of issue in which you mobilize all your resources for – and spend all your money on to destroy – which is really what happened.

MC: Well, Saul, we are out of time. I want to thank you uh, for joining us. I want to thank you for the courageous commentary that you made today on the last edition of Pacifica National News, and maybe we’ll talk to you again.

SL: I certainly hope so Mark – you know – I’m sure god will punish me for it.

MC: heh, heh, - If not god, his representatives on earth

SL: his representa – his corporate representatives on earth

MC: those who speak not only for god but for the people – Saul, thank you very much.

SL: It was a pleasure

MC: Saul Landau, director of digital media programs and international outreach at the college of letters arts and social sciences at California State Poly, Pomona. That’ll do it for today’s uh program on this Friday –


From: myla reson
Date: Fri Feb 15, 2002 8:49 pm
Subject: Cooper's last words on KPFK?

This is a transcription of Marc Cooper's statement on KPFK's air just before 5 PM today:

"I just want to say to my audience that um I'm not sure if I will actually be here next week or any longer I don't really know.

We're facing a fund drive next week and uh over this weekend I'm going to have to sort that out in my mind.

As I said to you, I'm sitting here with statements from our new executive director telling us that you the audience that's listening now, that we've built up over the last couple of years is not our real audience.

That somehow you are illegitimate; and that you are too white or you're too west side or you're too much of a yuppie or you're too conservative or whatever it is.

and that somehow we have betrayed our real mission here

It puts me in a difficult position because it means that um by next week I am going to have to ask YOU the audience that our leaders consider to be illegitimate to give money uh for some project that theoretically is going to purify you[sic] and the audience.

It's a very difficult position to put people, uh programmers in uh like myself, as I said I hope to sort it out. If I'm here next week well we will have sorted it out some how. and if not it's been great being with you..."



From: myla reson
Date: Sat Feb 16, 2002 1:26 pm
Subject: Saul Landau on PNN's demise

Here is a transcript of the Saul Landau commentary broadcast at the end of yesterday's edition of the Pacifica Network News:

"In 1994, Gail Christian, director of Pacifica network’s public affairs asked me to record regular commentaries on Pacifica’s network news. Since then I’ve done about one thousand short essays on politics and culture for the nightly news.

This however marks my last commentary because Pacifica’s interim board without public debate or discussion has decided to take PNN, this two decade plus institution off the air, supposedly for budgetary reasons.

I have not commented publicly about internal events at Pacifica until now because I consider the debate over the network’s future to be, in the words of a friend, non-regenerative. That is, it had no possibility for building anything positive. I still believe that, but I comment now because I think listeners should know about what I believe is a threat to reduce this network’s potential.

Those who waged war against Pacifica have won. Now, how can listeners limit the damage?

Over the past three years I had written one email asking friends to help stop the war against Pacifica. That email was posted on Pacifica’s website until some months ago, when in disgust, I asked the old board to remove it.

I had no good words to say then or now about Pacifica’s board or management. It has reeked of incompetence at best.

But I found charges that they planned to sell Pacifica stations or plotted to corporatize the network and make it mainstream ridiculous. On their best day, I concluded, Pacifica’s management and board could not have planned a one car funeral.

In response to my email calling to stop the war against Pacifica, which I feared my cause us to lose our broadcast license. I received hundreds of responses, including threats and abusive messages mostly from people I didn’t know. One leftist heavy labeled me as "the most divisive figure on the left since the end of the cold war". Another tried to have me fired from my university position.

When I appeared in public, I often encountered "Save Pacifica" activists who insulted me: How could I speak about and Allende and Chile and democracy when I had sold out the American people on the Pacifica issue? How could I pretend to have sympathy with Mayan Indians of Chiapas when I was a tool of Clinton and the corporations? The audiences of course blinked in confusion since almost none of them understood the Pacifica issue. Since they either hadn’t heard of the battle occurring inside Pacifica or were confused about them.

To this day it remains baffling. My shrill critics and I agree on the insignificant issues like the common hatred of imperialism, capitalism, racism, corporate globalization and environmental pollution. It is only on the over riding issue of Pacifica where we disagree.

Today PNN dies, a progressive news institution killed by angry and righteous people who have waged a virtual Jihad against their supposed ideological enemies. These same winners have not very effectively confronted the capitalist imperialists, but they have emerged triumphant against the hapless and witless Pacifica board and management. Magnanimous in victory the new interim board and management have fired four of the five station managers. Take Mark Schubb who ran KPFK in Los Angeles. He increased dramatically the listening audience; took the station from the red to the black, settled labor grievances and according to critics vastly improved the programming. He was fired last week without cause.

In the non-Pacifica or real world the winners have not had great success in electing their candidates to public office, nor in stopping globalization from proceeding a pace, but they have laid off union workers at Pacifica Network News and have divided further the small group of people who stand against capitalism and imperialism.

As my final words for my final commentary, I can only say, "Long live sectarianism!" This is Saul Landau for Pacifica Network News’ last program."

*****end transcript*****

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