Two views for change for KPFA radio and beyond

Two views for change for KPFA radio and beyond

by Virginia Browning

There are at least 2 prominent routes to needed change in this world: building a party outside the duopoly, versus forcing changes within the Democratic Party. Both are legitimate views.

Funding at KPFA and Pacifica is a central issue, and part of this involves whether the network and/or station are funded in large part from relatively wealthy Democratic Party donors (and allied organizations), or more from elsewhere.

It's well and good to say that some of us envision a network inviting in the public much more - but where is the money coming from? What is the funding vision of our opponents?

As touched on here, interactive web-based media is crucial in today's world if Pacifica is going to survive. Young people for the most part don't listen to terrestrial radio (though more could and probably would if it were better promoted and accessible from their accustomed sources). There is too much to say about this here. While there is a cost to this, many now have experience creating this media for very little money. KPFA can re-arrange its resources to accomplish this.


KPFA insiders from the Protector/Pretender group can continue to terrorize listeners with false and exaggerated stories (see elsewhere) to both keep current paid positions exactly as they are (versus the shift envisioned here) AND, as some of their leaders have urged, sell one or more Pacifica stations or force them into bankruptcy through a combination of disruption and legal tactics and then use the money for an endowment for KPFA only. In other words, remove local sister (and potentially robust "community hub") stations from New York, Washington, Los Angeles, or Houston - or some combination of these.

Some experienced IN the Democratic party know well that attempting change from inside often results in the conservative forces controlling new voices, not the other way around. It starts by making one concession after another until the party in important ways has become more conservative than what we once knew as conservative parties. Yes, anti-racist, pro-woman rhetoric and laws are championed - as long as they don't fundamentally threaten the economic interests that now see .1% of Americans controlling more wealth and power than most of the rest combined; a climate creating millions of refugees worldwide; and a war machine and real estate interests threatening the rest. Does KPFA regularly report that a significant percentage of all these lauded new homes being built are being bought by a few multi-national companies? It's legit to work from within, but a productive vision for that would be to build alliances with other local parties such as Green and Peace and Freedom, (as the Richmond Progressive Alliance and others have done) rather than ridiculously and ironically terming "conspirators" those who have cautioned against a drift to the right that undoubtedly IS a sort-of "conspiracy" at least by a few wealthy donors and accommodating organizations, also once progressive. [See footnote*] It's important to recognize this.

The filtering in of increasing numbers of quite centrally-connected Democratic Party members on KPFA's Local Station Boards over the years has not resulted in more radical news headlines but instead increasing air-time of corporate-placed headlines emphasizing the so-called but not "humanitarian" intervention or crippling sanction du jour, distracting from intense important stories all over the world.. Many good programs on KPFA report other views, but the most-heard news shows often do not. The "shock doctrine" of terror dominates KPFA's news almost as often as the airwaves of other media.

News production is expensive, as all understand. However, it doesn't have to be as expensive AND narrow in scope as controllers at KPFA would have it. There are current contributors relegated to deep night-time and weekend slots who work for free in their communities gathering news. A funded experienced Volunteer Coordinator, in a shifted role from perhaps a current news producer would certainly result in many local and even national and international stories very seldom explored on KPFA's prime time.

Ann Garrison, for example, has won multiple awards and honors for her singular role in exposing the U.S. complicity in the destruction of the Congo and surrounding area (and why, though it may not initially seem so, it is extremely relevant to you and me, and not only because of our cell phones). Her work is not played on the weekday morning or nightly news, and she will continue to report these stories for little or no money whether they are aired here or in the several on-line and other sources which do air them. She is not alone. During the Occupy Movement, unpaid KPFA staff members did excellent sound collages and other good coverage of the most inspiring moments of Occupy Oakland, at the same time as Brian Edwards-Tiekert chose instead to focus on a tiny moment when an Occupy event coordinator had to ask people to briefly "sit down" right after "standing up" and Mr. Edwards-Tiekert's take was "they don't know what they want." Relevant to nothing. (Later he realized this wasn't going way soon, and scooped up the coverage for himself).

KPFA can -- instead of mocking or ignoring requests for local and other coverage, as has happened for housing advocates, offers of international stories by travelers to important spots, and others -- do an extreme about-face and invite in and train enthusiastic unpaid reporters, including to the planning table for respectful collaboration.

Stories could also be re-posted to a strongly invigorated website (even interactive! heavens) from sources all over the web. Again, shifting the roles of some paid producers could accomplish this.

October 5, 2021

*Their “Protector” board members recently spent precious Local Station Board time decrying a “take-over” of KPFA by “the Green Party” and “Workers World Party” (which none of our board members have heard of since the '60s). They actually tried to get 2 board members removed for allowed positions in a local Green Party, despite their own board members numerous times holding identical intra-party positions in their local Central Democratic Party. Aside from this irony, it's also the case if anyone has “taken over” it would be their discussion-stifling faction. They have gained a comfortable majority on the board by parroting our talking points and through endorsements by some who are well respected progressives, who appreciate their KPFA access and know only the often false talking points given to them by their long-time partisans. The candidates are usually nice people who are unaware of their endgame but mostly vote in a bloc for what their leaders require of them.