Berkeley – When we last wrote, the Pacifica National Board had voted yes on the anti-democratic bylaws proposal so that the local station boards at the five stations would have the opportunity to debate, discuss and issue their referendums on the proposal to replace the network’s bylaws and revert to a self-appointing board majority. The national board’s statement regarding the bylaws proposal submitted by the Pacifica Restructuring Project can be found here.
Since that time, three of the five local boards have discussed the proposal. On January 8, the local board of WPFW-Washington DC issued a unanimous no vote. On January 8, the local station board of WBAI-New York issued a unanimous no vote. On January 11, the local station board of KPFA – Berkeley, the spiritual home of the Pacifica Restructuring Project and the home base of seven of the nine proponents, voted no by a 4 (yes) – 13 (no) – 4 (abstain) margin. The four yes votes were from PRP members Aki Tanaka and Susan Da Silva, and two station staff members, Phillip Maldari, host of Sunday Show and Tim Lynch, co-host of Dead To The World (a Grateful Dead music show). The local board of KPFK-Los Angeles will vote on January 19. The local board of KPFT-Houston was supposed to vote on January 8, but ended up postponing to a meeting on January 22.
The decision by the national board to let the local stations boards discuss the matter did not meet with much enthusiasm from the proposal’s proponents. Before any of the local station boards even had a chance to weigh in, they were back in court requesting not only an additional extension of time beyond the extension already granted, but also to ask the court to prevent the seating of 2020 directors on the National Board. The Pacifica Restructuring Project had earlier asked the court to prevent the seating of 2020 elected delegates on the local boards, but the court declined to do so. Pacifica is vigorously opposing this new motion which seeks to obstruct foundation operations. The Pacifica Restructuring Project submitted their petition too late in the year for it to be properly processed and heard. A prompt bylaws petition could have been sent to the members during the 2019 election balloting, but the lateness of the proposal would now necessitate an extra election, the third in a years time, and an outlay of another $50,000 to $100,000 that would have to be borne by the five stations. Former Pacifica president Peter Franck removed himself from the Pacifica Restructuring Project’s lawsuit against the Pacifica Foundation on December 11th. Two of the six individuals proposed to be placed on the national board as the new 6-person permanent self-selecting board majority have already withdrawn their names from the effort: University of Illinois history professor Barbara Ransby and A.J. Muste Foundation director and Law and Disorder host Heidi Boghosian.
You can read Pacifica’s response to the Pacifica Restructuring Project’s latest legal action here, and read the new PRP motion here. The court hearing will be in Alameda Superior Court at 3:30pm on January 23 in Department 17. Pacifica members are welcome to attend the public hearing.
The 2020 directors the Restructuring Project is seeking to prevent from being seated have been selected at two stations. From WPFW-Washington DC, Ron Pinchback, Eileen Rosin and Nancy Sorden will be returning, with Vanessa Dixon-Briggs replacing Martha Peterson. From KPFA-Berkeley, Tom Voorhees, Chris Cory and Sabrina Jacobs will be returning with Aki Tanaka replacing Donald Goldmacher. Tanaka is currently a plaintiff suing in court to prevent himself from serving as a director after running for the seat. We will update you on the PNB elections at the other 3 stations as soon as the results are announced.
In other news, KPFA, which has been engaged in a rapid set of programming adjustments which have been announced as fait accompli with no consultation with the local board, CAB or listening community, terminated another locally-produced show, Work Week, which focused on the radical labor movement. You can check out the show’s last broadcast on Google podcasts here. Previously removed shows included Guns and Butter, and Twit Wit Radio, all of which shared the feature of the producers being noticeable critics of some aspects of station management. Another show recently removed, Counterspin, the media deconstruction program of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, has been tagged to replace Work Week, after earlier being removed to make way for a Friday afternoon re-run of the KALW public affairs program Your Call, which airs in the Bay Area at 10am daily on a different radio station.
The juggling around forces Counterspin to develop a new audience on Wednesdays after abandoning its Friday audience, and to do so in a much less logical spot, given that Friday afternoon is devoted to public affairs with a strong lead-off from the Project Censored Show and Wednesday afternoons feature herbs and physics, neither a particularly sensible lead-in to media deconstruction. It also breaks the 2000-era agreement that KPFA’s airwaves are too valuable to dedicate to re-runs, a consensus that led to the creation of Hard Knock Radio in 2000. The loss of the only inside-the-radical-labor-movement media production in the Bay Area is a sizable one and correcting the earlier mistake of the removal of Counterspin seems like an insufficient rationale.
As KPFA and all the Pacifica stations try to move forward into the 21st century, one thing that seems abundantly missing is programming policies that articulate why we put what we put on the air, what data gets relied on to develop decisions, and what role the listening community plays in creating the community radio station they want to have and sustain.
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Started in 1946 by conscientious objector Lew Hill, Pacifica’s storied history includes impounded program tapes for a 1954 on-air discussion of marijuana, broadcasting the Seymour Hersh revelations of the My Lai massacre, bombings by the Ku Klux Klan, going to jail rather than turning over the Patty Hearst tapes to the FBI, and Supreme Court cases including the 1984 decision that noncommercial broadcasters have the constitutional right to editorialize, and the Seven Dirty Words ruling following George Carlin’s incendiary performances on WBAI. Pacifica Foundation Radio operates noncommercial radio stations in New York, Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and syndicates content to over 180 affiliates. It invented listener-sponsored radio