By Ann Garrison, guest commentary.
July 2, 2012
On Thursday, June 28, KPFA Radio mailed ballots to all KPFA subscribers. These aren’t actually ballots for the Local Station Board election, which will take place later this year. Instead, they’re ballots for voting on whether or not to recall Media Alliance Executive Director Tracy Rosenberg from the KPFA Local Station Board (LSB), and thus, from the Pacifica National Board (PNB), which makes decisions regarding the Pacifica Network of 5 metropolitan stations: KPFA-Berkeley, KPFK-Los Angeles, KPFK-Houston, WBAI-Washington D.C. and WBAI-New York City. I’m often surprised at how many listeners don’t realize that KPFA is part of a network of five sister stations and somewhere between one and two hundred affiliate stations, co-founded by Lew Hill, a pacifist who served in Civilian Public Service as a conscientious objector during World War II.
All Pacifica stations play a combination of local, national, and international programming, and collaborate, sometimes in programming across the network, like Democracy Now’s broadcast from the Supreme Court last week. Some shows produced at KPFA, including Flashpoints and Letters and Politics, air on other sister stations and/or smaller affiliate stations all across the country.
Why do KPFA and the Pacifica Network matter? Oakland media and entertainment lawyer and former Pacifica Foundation President Peter Franck says why Pacifica and all its sister and affiliate stations matter as eloquently as anyone:
“Pacifica is profoundly subversive because it breaks the media consensus; it’s the little boy who says that the emperor has no clothes. The little boy’s comment spreads beyond the castle, even if only a few people were actually in the room to hear it. Without Pacifica saying that Obama is killing innocents with drones, who would write about it in the NY Times?”
Arguably, this is best for Obama or whomever else commands and controls the most lethal arsenal on earth, and better for all those who voted for Obama in 2008 and who may do so again, still hoping for peace and more than spare change. The truth is the best starting point for all of us. There was a lot of talk, after the 2008 election, about the need to “hold Obama accountable,” but the corporate media rarely does so unless they’re pushed.
Assuming that some number of you reading this also listen to KPFA and have given $25 or three hours of your time to the station in the past year, and, have therefore received a recall ballot, why should you take the time to vote in this special election attempt to recall Tracy Rosenberg from the KPFA Local and Pacific National Boards?
Well, because the KPFA Local Station Board members vote on KPFA’s budget. They don’t vote on what goes on the air, but they vote on the budget, which of course, indirectly, has to do with programming, with the condition of the station’s equipment, and with social relations at the station and within the KPFA listener community. They also make recommendations to the Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation about whom they would like to see hired as KPFA’s General Manager and Program Director, and those two managers, together, make final decisions about programming on KPFA airwaves and webstreams. The Pacifica National Board (PNB), which is made up of delegates elected by the Local Station Boards, plays a similar role throughout the network.
As a KPFA and WBAI programmer, and a listener subscriber for many years before I ever did any programming, I adamantly oppose recalling Tracy. I know Pacifica well enough to know that, as a KPFA LSB and PNB member, she does not have the authority to hire and fire, lay employees off, or make programming changes at KPFA, which is what the Recall Tracy Rosenberg campaign accuse her of, above all. I also know that Tracy’s one of the most knowledgeable, vocal, committed, hardworking, and effective media activists in the country. I recommend following her Huffington Post blog on media justice.
During the summer of 2011, I sat through a KPFA Local Station Board meeting in Berkeley, where the main subject was the presentation of a KPFA budget shortfall. Board members went back and forth about who an what to cut because of the shortfall, till Tracy was given a chance to point out two big mistakes in the budget. Her corrections eliminated half the shortfall – over $50,000. That is not the person to recall from the Local Station Board when it has to tackle the consequences of the most recent fund drive shortfall.
Another principle complaint of a vocal group of listeners, including those attempting to recall Tracy, has been Aimee Allison’s departure from KPFA airwaves, in lay-offs according to seniority, as stipulated in the Communications Workers of America (CWA) contract with KPFA. Tracy herself has argued that a “last hired, first fired” seniority rule is damaging to a dynamic, media outlet, but that’s what the CWA contract stipulates now. And, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that KPFA honored the contract in every dispute arising from the 2010 lay-offs.
All that said, I hope that readers who are also KPFA subscribers will study the blogs of both campaigns: Recall Tracy Rosenberg and Stop the KPFA Recall, and whatever information comes with their ballots. And, that they’ll listen to the archive of this on-air debate (6/29/12) between Tracy and KPFA Local Station Board Chair Margy Wilkinson, at this hot link: KPFA Archives LSB Recall Show. The actual debate begins at roughly 5 minutes, 30 seconds in, after a musical break.
And, to any readers who have not given the minimum $25 or three hours that would make you eligible to vote in this special election, please consider contributing now, so as to be able to vote during the regular Local Station Board elections in the fall.
KPFA won’t be yours unless you take an interest, contribute what you can, and vote in your Local Station Board elections.