guns & butter, letter from a kpfa listener

a letter from a KPFA listener about

For 17 years Bonnie Faulkner has hosted GUNS & BUTTER at KPFA. It was suddenly taken off the air this month and all 17 years of archives were erased. Here's a letter about this from Steve Gilmartin, a KPFA listener.

A letter from a KPFA listener
by Steve Gilmartin

Listener-supported KPFA was founded as a vehicle for social change and as a much-needed alternative to corporate-sponsored media and McCarthyite state propaganda during a politically repressive period in US history. The KPFA of 2018, however, seems all-too aligned with national security state messaging, with its constant parroting of corporate media’s evidence-free “Russia meddled” narrative and, with occasional exceptions, no recognition of the grotesque but almost completely unexamined and outsized influence of the state of Israel over US politics.

Guns and Butter has been the consistent and notable exception to this pattern and, while not perfect, has courageously embodied the Pacifica mission to present material by well-informed, knowledgeable and insightful analysts who, because their perspectives run counter to official narratives, are not allowed a voice within corporate media.

Now, with a snap of the GM’s fingers, the show is gone, along with years of archived material. The decision to cancel the program and to delete all of its archives seems to have been made because of the content of one show, and Bonnie Faulkner, the unpaid programmer of Guns and Butter for 17 years, was not given the courtesy of a warning or an opportunity to meet with management to discuss the program in question.

The unhealthy hierarchical structure of the station—well protected and benefited paid staff versus a majority of unprotected unpaid staff—also falls into the pattern of haves and have-nots in our society at large, and the negative consequence of such a structure is all too evident in this management action. A truly progressive station would provide unpaid staff with the same protections given by law to paid staff.

I’ve listened to what I believe is the offending program and, although I thought it did contain some thought-provoking ideas, it also made a couple of hugely controversial, offensive, poorly substantiated, and in fact previously debunked claims. But there were far better remedies available then going immediately, with no apparent process or transparency, to the most extreme one, cancellation. Instead of erasing all trace of a show that has brought listeners so much good information over the years, this one offending show could have been deleted from the archives, or a disclaimer could have been appended to it, or there could have been a show devoted in whole or part to debunking the claim made, etc.

But the best remedy in such an instance would have been to have a Program Council, like the one that once existed at KPFA and which I believe gave rise to Guns and Butter, with a process in place to expressly deal with controversial content, in addition to generating new programming and evaluating existing shows. Such a Program Council would enable KPFA to return to its former role as a truth-seeker able to examine controversial subject matter rather than merely mimic the censorship currently running rampant through corporate social media platforms.

At a recent KPFA LSB /town hall meeting, 45+ people showed up during public comment to express their displeasure about the cancellation of Guns and Butter (with 2 voicing support), but the General Manager and the Program Director responsible for the cancellation decided they had better things to do. Such unresponsive disrespect to the listenership is a stain on the radio station, particularly right after a fund drive begging for listeners’ financial support.

KPFA needs first to immediately reinstate Guns and Butter and its archives, and then come up with a fair, transparent process ideally enacted through a reconstituted Program Council in order to become something resembling the vibrant, independent station that it claims to be.

Steve Gilmartin
Berkeley, California
August 20, 2018

Comments & Analysis of Guns and Butter banning

June Comes After May and Guns and Butter Goes Away
August 20, 2018 Pacifica in Exile

Bonnie Faulkner responds
banned and removed

Twit-Wit Radio
satire of left gatekeeper censorship
here and here

AUDIO of the LSB & Town Hall of
Saturday, August 18, 2018

VIDEO of Comments at Public Board Meeting on August 18, 2018

Archives of Guns & Butter

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 over 160 affiliate stations.