KPFA's road to Hell

paved with bad decisions

KPFA's road to hell has been was paved with bad decisions. Here's an article from 2008, when the LSB found a highly qualified candidate for General Manager--who was not hired. The result was another three years of bad management, the SaveKPRA/gatekeeper group remaining in effective control, and recently KPFA has been facing possible bankruptcy.

Get out of the way of history, Dan Siegel, and let KPFA heal

by Fadi Saba
Wednesday, 06 February 2008

It's definitely time for a changing of the guard at Pacifica's flagship station, KPFA, 94.1 FM, in Berkeley. And KPFA's Local Station Board (LSB) has voted 14 to 8 for the right person at the right time. But Pacifica's Interim Executive Director Dan Siegel, by refusing to act on the board's solid recommendation, is holding back history on a technicality.

More on this in a moment, but first let's meet the candidate who was supported so overwhelmingly by the LSB. The candidate is Michel Shehadeh, a Palestinian-American businessman, human and civil rights activist, former research associate at San Francisco State University and a former member of what came to be known as the LA 8, a group of Palestinians who were rounded up over 20 years ago on phony McCarthyite communist-turned-terrorist related charges - and only recently absolved of those charges.

By all accounts, Shehadeh is fair-minded, politically savvy and understands well the underlying mission of Pacifica as a radical alternative to the corporate media that encourages diversity as a strategy towards global peace and understanding.

It would be an extraordinary restatement of purpose and mission for the Pacifica network to hire a Palestinian manager at its flagship station, at a time in history when the entire U.S. corporate press has turned Palestinians into terrorists. The tragic story of the ethnic cleansing of occupied Palestine doesn't even exist in the mainstream media, even though it's heavily supported by U.S. tax dollars and U.S. weapons of horrific destruction - Apaches, F-16s etc.

IEDs of intransigence

In November, after a long and arduous process of screening resumes and conducting phone interviews, the KPFA board's General Manager Search Committee sent the names of three applicants to the full board for in-person interviews. One of the candidates dropped out on the day of the interviews, Nov. 17, 2007.

A motion recommending Michel Shehadeh for the position of manager passed 14 to 8. A motion to forward to Pacifica's Interim Executive Director Dan Siegel a pool of candidates, consisting of Shehadeh and KPFA's current interim general manager, Lemlem Rijio, failed. She has presided over great turmoil at KPFA and is highly unpopular among most of the staff - paid and unpaid. KPFA's LSB showed little confidence in Rijio's work to date and was clearly not interested in having her as KPFA's permanent manager.

The bottom line: Siegel is stonewalling the process by demanding a pool of candidates. Thus, he is planning to ask the LSB to re-open the entire hiring process, subjecting the KPFA staff and listeners to another 18 months of the current inferior management and undermining this wonderful possibility for a desperately needed and sought after change at KPFA.

Though I am a Palestinian American, that is not the reason I support Mr. Shehadeh's appointment as general manager. Rather, it is that I know KPFA - and it needs an amazing manager to turn it around.

Pacifica is in financial peril. We cannot let mismanagement continue. As a former local and national board member, it is definitely time for a new day and a fresh and more respectful management style that is both responsive to the staff, paid and unpaid, and to the community that pays the station's bills and depends on it for a real alternative to the corporate mainstream.

Get out of the way, Dan Siegel, and let KPFA heal!

FADI SABA is a former LSB member, a community activist and public school teacher.
The above article was originally published in the SF Bay View newspaper, 2/6/2008

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the upshot

Dan Siegel did not get out of the way, and KPFA did not heal. He prevented a very qualified candidate (Michel Shehadeh) from being hired as KPFA's GM.

Lemlem Rijio stayed on as interim GM.. Lemlem did not inspire confidence, and after the Nadra Foster incident of August 2008, over 70 members of the staff submitted a petition of "No Confidence in her management style". However, the CL/gatekeeper group loved her, got her promoted to full fledged GM, and called her "the best GM the station had ever had.". She was in fact a disaster, best known for leaving a $375,000 check in a drawer till it expired.

The good news is that as of March 15, 2011 KPFA has a very promising new interim General Manager, Andres Phillips.

Finally! After all these years, KPFA may at last be healing! (But it should surprise nobody to hear that the new iGM had been at the station for less than a week before he was attacked by the CL'ers.) The going will NOT be easy, Folks.

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Updates, reports & essays about KPFA & Pacifica Foundation Radio at

KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network which are located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.

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