Differentiators? a letter to the UCR

A letter to
United for Community Radio
with a response by Mara Rivera



I am a long-time KPFA supporter trying to figure out who to vote for. As far as I can tell, both UCR and saveKPFA say all the right things. It is difficult for me to see whom I should support. What differentiates the two groups? What do you NOT agree on?

Carl Herder
August 22, 2016

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Several UCR folks have responded to Carl's letter, the following is by Mara Rivera.
(Other letters and Carl's replies will be posted shortly)

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Hi Carl,

I saw your message to UCR and have been wanting to answer it; finally I find myself with time to do so. Late I know, but even if you've already voted, I think you can use this information.

As Virginia mentioned, we do a certain amount of self censorship, for various reasons, and that's why we are hard to differentiate from "Save" KPFA. Our folks seem more intimidated by those who say "Stop the infighting" and "I don't want to know about KPFA internal politics", than responsive to those who ask "What's the difference between the slates?" as you have.

Anyway, I have a long history with KPFA governance issues, starting about 1992 maybe, when the problems were starting and there was a move to democratize the then appointed station board; this perspective helps me to understand what is going on.

And not everyone in United for Community Radio agrees with me (we formed as a coalition of groups). The following are my thoughts and opinions.

Basically the split in slates (now Save KPFA and UCR) is between those who want a democratically run network and station, which covers a range of political issues and community concerns, and those who feel the staff should be the ones to run the station as they see fit, which tends to result in less cutting edge more NPR-like and less information about local issues from various and diverse local communities.

A portion of the long time paid staff, such as the News Department exemplifies the latter. This was reinforced by changes to programming brought about in the '90s instigated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and one of their affiliated organizations.

This portion of the paid staff number maybe 35 people, while 70% of the programming is contributed by unpaid "volunteers", most of whom are very expert and professional. (They are mostly pretty part time and often less likely to be concerned with governance.)

But around 2007 a new group of mostly listeners stepped in, with its own agenda, but allied itself with that core of paid staff and their agenda. Now they call themselves "Save KPFA", and one of their principles is "professionalism", meaning the paid staff.

They also want to attract more listeners from the pool of moderate progressives, and to do so, to "moderate" the programming: no "Conspiracy theories", no passionate investigative journalism, less community news, no or less coverage of local demonstrations and movements, etc: more NPRization. The News Departments news programs have been the most criticized on KPFA: people say please use more progressive news sources!

Democracy worldwide, nationwide, but not at KPFA? That faction have long criticized our elections for board members, and on the boards, have tried to block any governance actions, saying governance is for the staff, and the boards are there to fundraise -- which is what they are there for in the corporate world, but our democratic boards are there to help make and follow policies!

Now comes the bad news -- they want to run KPFA, along with the staff, and "by any means necessary".

Some people try to vote for some reps from both factions, but that's not necessary; the proportional voting methods used always permits a mix of factions. BUT our SaveKPFA folks, when they have a majority on the LSB, do not permit any input from the minority!

The tyranny of the Majority!

So do not vote for any of them! While their candidates may be very nice and well meaning, they will always follow the wishes of their leaders, whom they respect as great progressives -- which they are -- just not as regards KPFA and Pacifica, as I said.

They have gained a majority by various unethical and illegal tactics over these few years, and we never have fair elections!

Okay, now we're ready for the really bad news -- three years ago three of them set up a "shadow corporation". a framework for a non-profit called the "KPFA Foundation," with the exact Mission statement and bylaws as KPFA! They did this secretly, without revealing it to the LSB or Pacifica. When this was recently discovered, they explained that since Pacifica might be going bankrupt, they wanted at least to be able to "catch" KPFA, so "we" would retain control of it.

Two problems: 1 -- They have always advocated separating from Pacifica, which is the license holder and central service provider for five stations in major metropolitan areas, had the historic Archives collection, and served 200 or so affiliate stations with some of their programming: presently the only progressive news network in the US. Now what good progressive would want to bring that network down? But that would be the likely result were KPFA to pull out of it.

2 -- They have been making moves to cause the network to sink into insolvency! What looks like repeated incompetence is so systematic that we (some of us) have to guess that it is a deliberate attempt to bring the network down in bankruptcy.

Just a couple of examples: failure to complete the yearly audits which are needed to gain grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, totaling about 2 million dollars; also required for insurance, and to comply with the California non-profit code (Pacifica is located in Berkeley, California).

Also, they have been attempting to stop The Pacifica National Board, the KPFA Local Station Board, the KPFA Community Advisory Board from examining the dire financial situation.

This is just the short list -- there is much more.

So our best hope is to win enough seats in this election to implement measures which will reverse the trend to insolvency.

We have sought and are seeking relief from the courts, but that is never certain.

There are reasons why we are split on whether to put out this information or not, but I've said enough and won't go into them.

But you asked and I told you what I know (some of it!). I hope this was not too much or too discouraging. But we are all progressives and committed to the truth and fighting the "good fight", and will never give it up. We won the fight for Pacifica in 2000, so why not now?

You can find more information at unitedforcommunityradio.org and pacificainexile.org

Mara Rivera
(UCR member, past candidate for the KPFA LSB)
United For Community Radio

September 1, 2016

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for updates, reports & essays on KPFA/Pacifica, please visit these websites:



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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. The Pacifica network also has about 200 affiliate stations.