The rivals in KPFA’s governance election are in full combat mode these days. Up for grabs are a bunch of seats for delegates on the Pacifica listener-supported signal’s Local Station Board. Two slates are pushing for a majority on the board: Save KPFA and Independents for Community Radio. My favorite outbursts come from Independents most vocal candidate Tracy Rosenberg, a frequent commentator on this site as well, who characterizes Save KPFA as thus on the Huffington Post (without mentioning she’s a candidate herself).
“Save KPFA turned out to be a bunch of folks in their sixties and seventies (and maybe eighties, too). Their call to arms? The cause to donate my money? More professionalism and more hierarchical structure. Run the famously radical radio station like a proper corporation and get rid of all this community empowerment mumbo-jumbo.”
She then compares these (inappropriately aged?) individuals to Google, which I presume she doesn’t like because of its watered-down stance on net neutrality.
“I guess if you can’t beat the Googlezon, the only thing left is to impersonate the Googlezon.”
I think this prose confirms Rosenberg’s attitude towards professionalism. But interestingly, here on Radio Survivor, she assumes an entirely different personae. Taking exception to KPFA staffer Richard Wolinsky’s warning that the station going all volunteer won’t work, and calling for staff layoffs, Rosenberg sounds to me like a cross between Meg Whitman and various Tea Party candidates.
“KPFA ran a deficit of $652,000 from 10/08 to 9/09 and has run one of $424,000 between 10/09 and 7/10. No philosophy, just numbers. And now there are no savings left in the bank to draw upon, so continuing to run at a deficit is impossible,” she insists. “You can’t spend money you don’t have.”
The problem is that in this same commentary, Rosenberg also leaves me with the impression that even she doesn’t think that last claim is true.
“Remove Democracy Now from the schedule and the associated donations it brings in and you have less revenue to work with, not more,” she adds.
So there’s ‘no money’ at KPFA for KPFA’s local staff (who, it should be noted, also bring in listener donations), but funds to send to the Pacifica National Office for Democracy Now!?
And apparently, there’s always going to be money for these expensive, wasteful elected boards (five for all five of Pacifica’s stations), which have cost the organization almost $2.5 million since 2002. I refer RS readers to my debate with Rosenberg about Pacifica’s absurdly overdemocratized board system, which she defended.
To sum up thus far—there’s cash for governance and Democracy Now! but, oops, gosh darn it, you can’t spend money you don’t have (oh well) for much of KPFA’s local paid staff, whose politics, coincidentally, are hated by not a few of ICRs’ endorsers.
Look—I’ve been around Pacifica radio for longer than I care to admit, and I’m just going to call it as I see it here. If ICR gets a bigger majority on KPFA’s Local Station Board, I’m expecting a paid staff bloodbath, followed by replacement programming on the mysteries of Building Number 7, the Truth About HIV, and God knows what else.
Sure, ICR’s more reasonable sounding backers will tell you that I’m just being an alarmist. But I doubt that they’ll be able to stem the flood of demands for air time coming from forces rapidly slouching towards this particular Bethlehem. How will they be able to when Rosenberg publicly insists that Pacifica founder Lewis Hill created KPFA “specifically to broadcast wildly unpopular perspectives that could never get on the air anywhere else.”
Sounds wild. The problem is that while ICR won’t acknowledge what’s really on the table, neither will Save KPFA, most of whose capable and committed principals I’ve endorsed in past elections. Their backers are insisting that this is a “moment of truth” election, and the most important in years.
But the reality, as they know, is that these elected boards have always been a disaster for Pacifica. That means that every race from now on is going to be the most important in years, because these elections are nothing but beachheads to launch assaults on KPFA’s tradition of professionalism and meaningful local coverage. KPFA and Pacifica’s road to health begins where they end.
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