the Alternative Home Shopping Network?

by Richard Phelps
July 27, 2013

I coined this term several years ago and have written several articles about the comodification of public affairs!! The antithesis of our MISSION and anything progressive, radical or revolutionary.

The most recent example that makes me want to cry is the selling of the various recorded events from the recent Socialism Conference in Chicago. The comodification of a Conference on Socialism would surely drive Karl Marx and Lewis Hill mad.

When I first moved to the Bay Area if something like that was happening it would be on KPFA live or shortly thereafter as would speeches with alternative views that would educate or challenge the status quo. That made me listen often for the promo telling the audience when the next current event would be broadcast so I would be sure to tune in. KPFA was the place to be listening to get the latest radical ideas that were never going to be on mainstream media or PBS. If you weren't tuned in you might miss something. Now if you don't $pend money you will mi$$ most event$!

Now we have to wait until the next fund drive and either only hear the teaser part or pay money to get what our Mission requires us to do, get such ideas, speeches, and programs out to as many people as possible.

KPFA has been commercialized in a unique way and most people have gone along with the staff pied pipers, whose goal is self serving, to support the staff payroll first and foremost, the Mission be damned.

In a past LSB show 2006-7 I was debating this with BET and his response was totally bureaucratic or balkan, BET said " Unfortunately many speeches and programs run over an hour so we can't fit them in."

In days of old when a new important event or speech happened folks gave up time for the general good. What a concept!

In 1981 Michael Bloomfield died, for those of you that don't recognize the name, he was a supremely gifted blues guitar player, he was the guy that got Bill Graham to bring all the Black Blues musicians to the Filmore etc, B.B King, Buddy Guy etc.

I asked for an hour to do a music special about his life and no problem, I was given the time. Try to pry lose some time now. Good luck. Time slots are now and have been for some time "private property" instead of something to be used to promote the Mission.

So we now have a class/money based delivery system. Our poor and low income listener get to hear the teaser portion and if you have a spare $100 you can buy the whole program. Sort of like cable TV. HBO and Showtime cost extra.

If KPFA and Pacifica are to survive for the Mission and not just for a few paid staff to have a cushy radio job we MUST get back to bringing the public affairs of the city, state, country and world to the masses for free and as close to real time as possible. That is the beauty of radio! You can hear a speech as it happens even though it is happening thousands of miles away.

Doing so would bring excitement back on to our air and the poor and low income folks won't feel left out any more. It will create a loyal audience that tunes in to always know what's next.

By the way, back then, 1970s, when it was fund drive time many programmers created programs or arranged to have interviews with interesting people. The didn't play pre-recorded stuff unless they recorded it for the fund drive for their show.

Just think of all the speeches and programs that haven't been played for ALL TO HEAR over the last decade or two. Hundreds of thousands of listeners have been denied these public affairs events. And that means all those people didn't get the education and/or entertainment that our Mission is designed to bring to them.

And by the way, most times when they play these speeches and programs they say "You can only get it here" and often that is just not true! So our "progressive staff" lies to the listeners to sell their goods to make sure they get their paycheck. Not much different than a used car salesman saying "this is the best bargain and it has never been in any collisions".

And you wonder why our audience is shrinking? Its not just the age of our listeners, many can't stomach the BS that is now being passed of as Free Speech Radio.

I agree with the need to improve programming. We also need to improve the politics of our delivery $y$tem and stop $elling public affairs. A quick fix would be to play these events ASAP and promote them so as many folks that want to can hear them all and we will have happy and loyal listener who will tell others "Did you hear that speech last night on KPFA? And people will be donating because they are being treated with the respect and getting current events when the are current and without having to pay for them, as the Mission was designed to do.

Here are some links to a three of the articles I have published on this sad situation.

The Alternative Home Shopping Network--by Richard Phelps

Dialing for Dollars Plan is at Odds with Pacifica's Mission--by Richard Phelps

Is it Time to Occupy KPFA Fund Drives? (Not physically to politically straighten them out.)--by Richard Phelps

P.S. I made a motion to deal with this issue, at an LSB meeting in Santa Rosa, yes, we used to hold them all over the Bay Area, requiring that things we "sell" have to be also played for all to hear and one of our folks voted with the CLers against it!

July 27, 2013

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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.