The Best & the Brightest, at KPFA

by Daniel Borgström
December 13, 2010

For over five years I've been attending KPFA's board meetings, and one thing that's impressed me is how accomplished the people in and around KPFA are. Extremely intelligent people, all of them, from the staff to the board members to the listener-activists. At KPFA I feel I've stepped into a gathering of the best and the brightest.

And saying that, I am reminded how it was supposedly the "best and the brightest" who took us to Vietnam.

Today KPFA and Pacifica are broke, close to bankruptcy. It was ostensibly the best and the brightest of KPFA's staff and their supporters whose financial planning and policies have brought KPFA/Pacifica to the brink of fiscal disaster. I'm thinking of
the unsustainable budgets of the last five years or more, the $375K check that was left in a drawer, and the continuing effort to defund KPFA/Pacifica. Several of KPFA's own show hosts and newscasters have recently been using their air-time to trash the network and discourage donors from contributing.

Pacifica holds the licenses to stations in five major cities, and if the network crashes, those frequencies will be sold, lost to community radio, and replaced with who knows what? Maybe Rush Limbaugh. There are also over 160 affiliates which depend on Pacifica for much of their programming; they would face an uncertain future.

Non-corporate community radio plays a necessary role in this country, delivering information and cultural programming not heard in mainstream media. It also creates a sense of social connectedness, enabling people to break out of isolation, letting them know that they are not alone in their thoughts, tastes and opinions, which may run counter to lies and spin promoted by Wall Street, the arms industry and the political elite.

All of us who listen to Pacifica radio have personal stories of its significance in our lives. My story is one I've told a hundred times, but I'll tell it again. When I was 18, I joined the Marine Corps and served 4 years. When people ask me why, I explain that where I grew up there was no Pacifica radio, nothing like KPFA or any of its sister stations. Only one point of view was heard. I was so brainwashed by it that I thought I had to go out and save my country.

And having finished my 4 years in the USMC, I spent the next several years of my life struggling to understand what it was that I'd really been defending as a Marine. Pacifica Radio would've been very helpful to me back then.

Today the situation is somewhat different. Pacifica Radio does broadcast in many parts of this nation and its message is available for the 15-, 16- and 17-year-old Daniels who might be thinking of joining the USMC. It's also there for the 23- and 24-year-old Daniels who, like myself at that age, are now struggling to make sense of their military experience, of what they took part in and saw.

I would like to see Pacifica Radio continue to be available for the countless Daniels across this country. Is it too much to expect the best and the brightest to understand this?

DANIEL BORGSTRÖM, ex-Marine against the Wars
December 13, 2010

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Post Script, half a year later

It's now half a year since I wrote the above essay, and the outlook has become considerably more optimistic. Financially the station is doing better--not great, but at least a lot better. This is in large part thanks to Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt who finally stepped in at the last minute to reign in expenses, laying off several of the staff. That has not gone over well with some of the "best and the brightest" who've been working to undermine this in every way, even misappropriating KPFA's airwaves to attack and vilify Arlene and others who get in their way, and when a new General Manager was hired in January, they drove him out within a month. They also tried to drive Arlene out, and had she left, it could well have been the end of the end of the Pacifica network. She has courageously withstood the attacks, done her job well, and among other things found a new interim General Manager, Andrew Phillips, who is turning out to be an excellent manager.

Along with Arlene and Andrew, many activists, both listeners and staff, have been working hard to support the station, to keep it in Pacifica and keep Pacifica alive. Thanks to the efforts of these people, things look a lot better now. Better, yes, but it's not over; the struggle for a democratic Pacifica continues, and needs our ongoing support.

Daniel Borgström
May 28, 2011

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which ended May 25, 2011

KPFA's spring fund drive raised $743,000.
The total of $743,000 in listener support from the just-completed on-air fund drive is *$83,000 MORE* than the Spring 2010 fund drive of 12 months ago - which totaled only $660,000 in listener support.
KPFA continues to make slow and steady progress towards regaining economic stability after posting a 1.2 million dollar loss in the period between 10-1-2008 and 9-30-2010.

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independent auditor's report
Pacifica Foundation financial statements for the year ended September 30, 2010

Click here to view 10 Years of KPFA Finances - from audited financial statements

and, presented as a GRAPH, the same data:
10 Years of KPFA Finances GRAPH

for more information and updates please visit United for Community Radio at

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Between the Minutes
Scenes & Sketches from KPFA board meetings
a series by Daniel Borgström

"You are a chickenshit coward!" --After the Minutes on January 13, 2011

Intimidation between the minutes March 7, 2010

Siegel: "You're suing me!" March 7, 2010

The Split Between the Minutes Dec 5, 2009 & Jan 11, 2010

The "RAID" August 8, 2009

KPFA's manager attends a board meeting: March 14, 2009

Between the Minutes: January 10, 2009

Between the Minutes: June 14, 2008

Between the Minutes March 24, 2007

Between the Minutes February 24, 2007

Between the Minutes January 13, 2007

Parliamentary Addiction: Roberts Abuse at the LSB April 22, 2006

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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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