You can always tell a true community radio politics junkie, because eventually he or she will open up a post with a line like the following: “This is the last thing I’m ever going to say about Pacifica radio.”
Yeah, right. So let me put it a little more tentatively. This is the last thing I hope to write about Pacifica radio, at least for quite a while.
On Friday, Pacifica listener supported station KPFA-FM, to which I have dedicated much of my life as a historian, announced its new Morning Show lineup (see press release below), following the crude dismissal of Aimee Allison, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, and their producers. At least half of the volunteers who will host these programs and its coordinator are endorsers of the Independents for Community Radio electoral slate, whose principals called for layoffs at KPFA, supported the removal of Allison and Edwards-Tiekert, and may have even instigated the move.
Edwards-Tiekert and Allison were backers of the competing Save KPFA slate—detested by ICR and its allies. But the new lineup will be continuously defended as driven by poverty and the need to incorporate “diverse voices from communities marginalized in the mainstream media,” in the words of the release, as if Aimee and Brian didn’t bend over backwards doing just that for years.
Those of you who wish to see no politics or opportunism in this personnel switch are free to do so, of course. To me, it’s perfectly obvious how the Pacifica stations will make their programming decisions from now on. Competing factions will run in Pacifica’s expensive, wasteful “listener” elections, and the winners will mobilize to create air time for their supporters by removing existing staff.
Backers of various earlier permutations of ICR have coveted KPFA Morning Show air time for years. Now at last the prize is theirs. But everything that KPFA learned over three decades about bringing its audience a locally based, coherent air sound has been erased. Instead, the air time has been divvied up, patronage style, into five different slots.
Needless to say, this isn’t a way to serve the public. When Pacifica factions talk about “communities,” they’re really just talking about themselves. Let me be specific here—small groups of about 10 to 20 people, at most, who will run in network elections in which only a slim percentage of the respective station’s listener-subscribers actually vote. The Pacifica stations are now hard wired into this dishonest and self-destructive pattern for the foreseeable future.
Does this mean that Pacifica will collapse? Nah—don’t worry. The five stations will continue to lope along from one catastrophe to another. People will come and go. Reporters will occasionally peer into the process with varying degrees of amusement and horror.
But my days of bench-warming for all this are done. Enough. As I have learned from working with Jennifer and Paul here at Radio Survivor, there are a host of wonderful public, college, community, and experimental stations out there to write about and support. It’s time for me to find at least one to call a new home.
Press release: KPFA Set To Launch New Morning Show With Diverse All-Volunteer Staff
Daily One-Hour Program With Local Emphasis Will Join Al-Jazeera News and Democracy Now! In Revamped Drive-Time Lineup
Berkeley-Radio station KPFA (94.1-FM), the Pacifica Foundation’s Northern California outlet, is bringing back its Morning Show next week, anchored by veteran programmers from the station’s unpaid staff together with other Bay Area progressive journalists.
The restored one-hour Morning Show will run every weekday at 8:00am, filling out a revamped drive-time lineup that includes Al-Jazeera English news at 6:00am, and Democracy Now!, the award-winning national news magazine at 7:00 and 9:00 am.
The Morning Show will focus primarily on local Bay Area news and culture, while incorporating diverse voices from communities marginalized in the mainstream media.
“The Morning Show is part of the local landscape,” said Adrienne Lauby, one of the unpaid programmers putting the show together. “It helps cross-pollinate activists and cultural workers and brings critical information to people as they start their day. I’m thrilled our all-volunteer host teams could bring it back to KPFA’s air.”
The show’s rotating hosts will include:
—Tara Dorabji, who has co-hosted La Onda Bajita Friday evenings on KPFA for five years and currently runs arts education programs for youth in disenfranchised communities in San Francisco and Oakland
—Leslie Stovall, who first appeared on Bay Area radio with KMEL-FM in 1985 and served up music and stimulating topics for twelve years at KBLX-FM in San Francisco
—Dr. Peter Phillips, professor of sociology at Sonoma State University, President of the Media Freedom Foundation and long-time director of Project Censored, a unique investigative news project that enlists students and faculty from more than thirty colleges and universities to expose media censorship and under-covered stories and Mickey Huff, associate professor of history at Diablo Valley College, the new director of Project Censored and a Media Freedom Foundation board member.
—Anthony Fest, a KPFA News Department producer since 1994, and a current host of KPFA’s Sunday and holiday evening newscasts.
—Adrienne Lauby, a member of the collective producing Pushing Limits, KPFA’s ground-breaking disability rights program for seven years and a co-coordinator of outreach and fundraising for Free Speech Radio News, a global grassroots news-gathering team serving Pacifica and hundreds of other community stations.
“A new day is dawning at KPFA,” said Dorabji. “As volunteers, we are committed to bringing the back the Morning Show and keeping the heart of KPFA alive”.