The implosion of the once-proud and progressive Pacifica radio network, which includes WBAI, KPKF, and KPFA, would be comical if it weren’t so appalling. The current psychodrama involves the lame-duck board attempting to impose loyalty measures, which is just the thing for a leftie radio network founded on the principles of freedom of expressions and dissent, wouldn’t you say?
Drafted by allies of KPFA board member Tracy Rosenberg, the “loyalty” measure bans those who dissent from serving on local or national boards [with] references to “harmful or malicious behavior,” including “breaches of loyalty” and “fiduciary care.”
The self-destruction of Pacifica has been going on for years and is accelerating. Programming is deliberately being dumbed-down. Fund raising is near constant, which is not surprising since the audience is vanishing. Junk science and dubious medical remedies are touted on air.
Pacifica owns five radio stations in major metro markets worth about $200 million. I asked Marc Cooper and Doug Henwood about that on Facebook some months ago. Both have had long-running shows on Pacifica and know the internal politics well. Could it be, I wondered, that a determined clique is trying to grab Pacifica so they can sell the stations and profit mightily? Both were adamant in their replies. No. It’s not a conspiracy. Rather, the destruction of Pacifica is entirely due to lunatics taking over the asylum and at this point, the network probably can’t be saved.
KPFA, part of the listener-supported Pacifica chain that includes WBAI in New York and KPFK in Los Angeles, is also now taking corporate money. Both these decisions were done with no input from listeners, local boards, or anyone else.
Democracy Now is a hugely popular show as well as major fundraiser for KPFA so this is a unsually nonsensical move, even by the lunatic standards of KPFA. Pacifica management has been jacked by a faction seemingly intent on destroying the chain, which is currently nearing insolvency.
The five stations in Pacifica could probably be sold for a few hundred million. Who would get the money if it sold? Current management? Yes this is a conspiracy theory. However such a plan would require rational long-term planning and calculation, something the shriekingly psychotic internal politics at Pacifica has never had much of. “Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.”
KPFAWorker has continuing coverage of the ongoing train wreck that is Pacifica.
The idiots and maniacs who are now running Pacifica have decided to lay off the entire staff of the excellent KPFA Morning Show and to take it off the air: The show is the station’s most popular, and its best fundraiser. But its quality comes at a price: much of the staff actually earns a salary, with benefits.
KPFA faces serious budget problems, but the union has proposed a way to deal with them. It looks like a faction of the local board has won the ear of the network’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt. Their dream is to turn the station into an all-volunteer “community” station, which means an endless revolving door of amateurs who have no idea what they’re talking about.
Among other things, this means rants by those who says HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, deeply round the bend conspiracy theories, junk science – and virtually no intelligible political coverage. (Amy Goodman runs her own show and is separate from Pacifica)
I’ve about had it with the whole Pacifica scene. It’s going down—and Engelhardt & Co. are helping.
Yet the stations are probably worth several hundred million. I smell a rat.
For the record, as they say, here’s what I just wrote to Tony Bates:
I really don’t want to do a show every other week on Saturday morning, and you probably knew that when you made the decision. So I think I’ll just quit, effective immediately.
It takes a remarkable amount of balls for you, Tony, to engineer a reworking of the grid having just masterminded yet another failed fundraiser. Falling 1/3 short of your goal is a disgrace. But evidently your vision of WBAI is of chemtrails and footpads and 9/11 nuttery, so we obviously don’t mesh.
The polite thing would be wish you good luck, but I don’t feel like being polite. It’s a remarkable devolution from Samori Marksman to you.
Pacifica, for all practical purposes, is dead. It will be looted by the deranged, by an exceptionally pathological Marxist sect or two, and soon enough it will have no listeners (well, it’s almost there now, isn’t it.)
For a once-thriving left-wing radio network to be so totally castrated just at the time a real left alternative is needed seems to me to be beyond left stupidity and quite probably deliberately done.