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What you need to know about Pacifica

"Founder Lewis Hill's mission was to create a new kind of radio, supported by listeners, owing nothing to sponsors, providing an outlet for creative expression, and a safe haven for artistic experiments with the radio medium. Predating National Public Radio, and beginning with KPFA-FM in Berkeley, CA, the network added four stations (in New York City, Washington D.C., Houston and Los Angeles), over the next 28 years. Perhaps best known as a chronicler of social justice movements and cultural change, the Pacifica stations have consistently embraced the performing and literary arts, offering sometimes the only forum for cutting edge and classical arts, and providing a stage to experiment with radio drama, spoken word, sound sculpture and the art of radio documentary." Quoted from
The struggle to Save Pacifica

On March 31st, 1999, the Pacifica Foundation's Executive Director Lynn Chadwick informed KPFA general manager Nicole Sawaya that her job with the station had been terminated, effective immediately. The decision set off a crisis that continues to this day, as Pacifica continues moving in an alarming direction. Pacifica's strategy remains one of centralizing authority, and firing its critics. Once again however the resistance is accelerating.

The original resistance began at Pacifica's oldest station KPFA where according to Pacifica historian Matthew Lazzar: "Over 800 KPFA supporters demonstrated against Pacifica in front of the KPFA building on March 31st. On May 9th, 2,000 demonstrators gathered at Berkeley's Old City Hall to protest Pacifica's intransigence. KPFA's staff began airing regular public statements, demanding the reinstatement of Sawaya and Larry Bensky and calling for the independent mediation of the dispute. The station's listeners responded by making KPFA's May/June subscription marathon the most successful in its history: 6,200 pledges made "under protest" of Pacifica's actions." Mumia Abu-Jamal, Alice Walker, Dolores Huerta, Noam Chomsky, Marilynn Buck and many others supported the struggle for a "democratic" Pacifica. Accross the US other allied organizations formed, among them the Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica and the Committee to Remove to the Pacifica Board.

The crisis deepened when Media Alliance intercepted and publicized a memorandum to Mary Frances Berry from Pacifica National Board member Michael Palmer. It said "I was under the impression there was support in the proper quarters, and a definite majority, for shutting down that unit [KPFA] and re-programming immediately. Has that changed?"

The memo, which Pacifica admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle is authentic, went on to extol the benefits of selling KPFA or Pacifica station WBAI in New York City: " . . . my feeling is that a more beneficial disposition would be of the New York signal as there is a smaller subscriber base without the long and emotional history as the Bay Area, far more associated value, a similarly dysfunctional staff though far less effective and an overall better opportunity to redefine Pacifica going forward. It is simply the more strategic asset." 52 staff and community members were arrested, and cited for trespassing in protest when the memo became public.

In the aftermath of what was a worsening crisis for the network the National Board issued repeated denials that they were considering selling KPFA, but on Wednesday July 28, National Board member Pete Bramson held a press conference to charge the opposite. Bramson said that during a Pacifica National Board Executive Committee telephone conference the day earlier, Pacifica board member David Acosta:

"proposed taking out a five million dollar loan against the value of the KPFA license. That could happen quickly. He proposed selling the KPFA frequency, which has an estimated value of 65 to 75 million dollars. That would take longer to accomplish. With a small portion of the proceeds of the sale of KPFA, Acosta proposed that Pacifica set up another Northern California station--perhaps in Palo Alto which Mary Berry said might be a friendlier city than Berkeley. A possible Palo Alto station would have only a fraction of the potential audience that KPFA currently can reach."

The formost of thing listeners accross the country demanded of the national board from 1999 to today, writen by the KPFA steering committee, was that:

"Pacifica must issue a legally binding written commitment not to sell, transfer or encumber or allow the sale transfer or encumbrance of any Pacifica broadcast license or station," Beyond that since the settlement agreement of December 2001 few of those to work together in the original struggle can even speak to each other and the network is now headed by a man who opposed the struggle to reclaim the network, Ambrose I. Lane.

A Network at War

Since ostensibly winning a campaign to recapture the small progressive Pacifica network that spanned years, involving at one time three separate lawsuits, and 10's of thousands of its active listeners, the tiny network is once again at war with itself.....Having, along with senior producer Rhyme Kakthouda, joined in filing complaints of discrimination on basis of national origin and ethnicity at the last meeting of our national board in NYC,


and with women angry about sexism, and the networks failure to do anything more than deny its existence, planning an actual march on Berkley to file similar complaints next month, all matters likely to head into litigation within a matter of weeks now, this seemed
like a good time to carve up all the sacred cows.

> Sex Discrimination Suit Filed Against KPFA
> Community radio station KPFA was served on Monday
with a lawsuit filed by Noelle Hanrahan, former
producer and co-host of Flashpoints, the station’s
drive-time public affairs broadcast. Also named in
the complaint are Pacifica Foundation, Flashpoints
executive producer Dennis Bernstein, and ex-general
manager, Jim Bennett.
> Among the charges in the complaint are sexual
harassment and sex discrimination, retaliation,
wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress.
> Hanrahan, three-time winner of the Golden Reel
Award, one of public radio’s highest honors, was hired
in July 2000 as a temporary producer on Flashpoints,
and elevated to co-host a year later. She alleges
that in October, 2001, Bernstein informed her, “I’m
going to torture you until you quit or I force you to
leave.? Hanrahan informed General Manager Bennett of
the incident, stating that she believed the actions
were the result of sexual harassment and sex
> Over the next five months, Hanrahan repeatedly
requested of Bennett and others at both KPFA and
Pacifica that her allegations be investigated and that
disciplinary action be taken. During that period,
according to the complaint, Hanrahan was exposed to an
escalating pattern of harassment from Bernstein, who
refused to talk with her, refused to inform her of
information necessary to perform her job, and locked
her out of editorial meetings. In one incident a
master tape of an interview Hanrahan was preparing to
air was erased, in an alleged attempt to sabotage her
work and force her to resign.
> Throughout this period, according to the complaint,
Bennett and others conducted no investigation and took
no disciplinary action against Bernstein, despite
Hanrahan’s repeated requests to management. At one
point Hanrahan allegedly was informed by Bennett that,
“If you file a grievance it will only get a lot
worse.? Not long afterward management demoted
Hanrahan, allotting her only 40% of the Flashpoints
> On November 20, 2001, Bernstein verbally attacked
Hanrahan on the air, informing listeners she had made
false allegations against him and was trying to take
over the radio program, encouraging listeners to call
KPFA and call for her dismissal. Less than three
months later, Hanrahan was placed on involuntary leave
and banned from the KPFA building.
> Citing KPFA’s failure to implement an effective
procedure for reporting, investigating or addressing
complaints of discrimination or harassment, the
complaint alleges that prior to Hanrahan’s hiring, a
number of other female employees had complained of
Bernstein’s sexual harassment, discrimination and
workplace violence. Those female employees resigned
or were forced out of their positions as a result.
> “The fact that women’s voices are being silenced by
gender-based harassment and intimidation is cause for
deep concern,? Hanrahan stated. "My every attempt to
have my grievances addressed was met with retaliation
and a wholesale cover-up. Sadly, I was left with no
other option but to turn to the courts for redress."
> Also cited in the complaint are a number of
incidents of workplace violence by male KPFA
employees. Unlike Hanrahan, those employees still
work at KPFA.
> A week ago, another female Flashpoints producer,
Solange Echeverría resigned, citing abusive behavior
by Bernstein as the cause. In an open letter to the
Local Station Board, Echeverría states:
> “ . . . I was FORCED OUT. I was left with no choice
- I reported unfair treatment, favoritism, abuse and
hostile working conditions on the Flashpoints program
- perpetrated by Executive Producer Dennis Bernstein
and I was met with complete disrespect, and disregard
when I reported the abuse to the [now] General
Manager, Roy Campenella.?
> Complaint online at

> Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets
> 707.953.9412
> Wendy E.. Musell, Attorney
> 415.445.0146
> Elisa J. Stewart, Attorney
> 415.552.9900

I'm not winning any popularity contests at Pacifica anyway so why not? Before I do so I'd like to thank Alex Strinberg for inspiring me to write this pieceby asking me a simple question namely "Do I believein listener democracy?" To which I gave a simple But if my answer was a simple one, my reasons are not .

Each and every one of our stations has millions of
potential listeners in its signal area. Each one of
those listeners has in a certain way, at one time or
another, 'voted' for us. By choosing to listen to one
of our programs at some time or other. All Arbitron
gives us is a guess as to how many do so at once at
any given time. Most of our potential listeners have
pprobablyheard us at some or other. Of those who have
some tune in more or less regularly for one or more of
our program offerings. Weather they listen regularly
or ssporadically each and every time a listener tunes in
our signal he or she has 'voted' to listen to us. That
is no small thing. Collectively these listeners have
hundreds of FM radio signals to chose from, and saying
that even avoids the wider question of how many
different entertainment options they have available.
Now radio of course is free so most of these
listeners, including most who tune in regularly, have
never and will never give us any of their time or
money. If I recall correctly it is estimated that less
than 10% in fact do so. Of this small group of people
most have no interest in our foundations governance.
In fact just over 10% voted our last election. Even
out of these people, who themselves represent only
about 1% of the listenership and a 10th of the
revenue, only a small fraction are interested enough
to go to candidate forums or have attended even one
governance meeting. Those who run for governance
boards, attend regular business meetings, any fly,
drive, and ride buses back and forth accross the
nation for national board meetings as I myself have
done are not 'the community', nor even 'tthe listeners,
we are small groups of media activists with competing
aagendastrying, with varying degrees of success, to
exert influence upon the foundation. The outcome of
our collective efforts has not been good governance,
but institutional anarchy. As one activist described
the board at the NY meeting it is 'a whole
which is less than the sum of its parts'.

Nor has the institution of this organizational chaos
come cheaply. The NY meeting is reported to have cost
some $70,000 dollars. Multiply that by five. Now add
to that the cost of the elections themselves...and the
cost of special events like the coming bylaws
convention. On top of these costs each station is
forced to give air time to the candidates running in
station elections and preempt regularly scheduled
programing to do so. It doesn't matter that 90% of the
membership would gladly forgo this opportunity to
become more involved in governance...or that they
never fail to remind us of their sentiments with phone
calls, emails, and outright cancellations of their
memberships. At the end of that process a board is
finally seated. But it doesn't end there. Those to go
down in defeat in the election and their most militant
supporters now fill the chairs to demand seats on
committees and to 'hold the board accountable'. That
is to say to scream loudly when those to win the
election seek to implement the program they promised
to enact, which the others of course are just as
committed to fight. Only a few board members have any
organizational history and know the issues and
currently most opposed the strike at all! by the
time the other good souls comprehend anything at all
about the working of the foundation, its time for a
election and many of them are gone. To say that still
ignores that even after the election our long
suffering listenership is forced to endure yet more
LSB shows and national board meetings broadcast live
for their enjoyment.

Nor as we all know is the sum total of this a well
governed institution. Local autonomy has come to mean
that we now have 5 foundations instead of one, each
being torn apart by factional infighting over control
of the budget and airwaves. The ED (who resigned
recently) had to appease the local GM's who in turn
need the support of entrenched staff weather in NY,
DC, or Berkley to stay in office.It's these staff
involved in governance who most often constitute the
largest group to have any institutional memory, and as
they already hold institutional power their aagendas
are identical even though their politics may be
diametrically opposed from one station to the next.
Simply put those to have institutional power, that
being control of airtime and budget, wish to keep it.
Those who lack institutional power wish to access it.
The result is that in a time of large scale war
uunprecedentedsince Vietnam, all of our organization
energy is consumed in aargumentsover
points of process.

I do not bbelievethat democracy is the highest ideal
of this foundation. Some of our active members are
reactionaries like Colin Powell. Now I don't care that
he can, and has, given us $500 he opposes our mission.
I don't want such people to participate in our
decision making just because they paid their nickle.
As many of you were, I too was part of the Pacifica
campaign. It was not to give Colin Powell a voice in
foundation governance, nor even to have such a voice
myself, that I joined that campaign. I did so to
ffacilitatecertain outcomes, and to hold this
accountable to its mission especially to local
communities, not to enshrine a process that I have
never known to do anything more than to legitimate the
status quo. At the end of the day however it has left
us with Ambrose I. Lane, who opposed the campaign, as
both chairman of the board and CEO, since June 1st.

For two years until being fforciblydisbanded we at
the DC co-op put forward and implemented a different
conception of 'a democratic Pacifica' one which put
the community back into community radio. Rather than
stations where as one member put at the national
mmeetingin NYC this year 'you have to wait for
someone to die to get on the air' our open ttraining
initiative aired some 120 new voices from this
community in the 2 years before its cancellation in
October of 2004. We have gotten away from a community
based approach to radio, and opening our finance
committee to everyone while closing are air to anyone
won't make it better either. Not a single young person
that I have met wants to attend governance meetings
and argue about such topics as 'directors inspection
rights'. They want to get on the air and talk about
contemporary movements for social change, to 'spin',
and perform and that is not happening. Instead we have
a death grip on our listenership. The average member
is 52 and we have next to zero growth. Moreover
the current structure makes any change difficult, and
a complete format change anywhere impossible.

Rather than the insane and iinaneexpense of a
'democratic process' that has enshrined institutional
chaos as the apogee of sound governance why not
'democratize' the damn airwaves? Instead of making
sure Colin Powell has a voice in our coverage of the
war how about assuring us that our mission will be
upheld! Instead of governance by random people who've
paid $25.00 how about opening the studio to the
community and letting those to create the work
listeners 'vote' for from the janitor to Amy decide
what is to be decided? Instead of a tiered and secret
wage system how about everyone gets paid the same and
you're either full time, half time, three quarter
time, or a stringer? Instead of voting why not make
decisions by 80% consensus? If nothing happens without
broad agreement people will either agree or the ED and
the station managers will run it until they do, its
their choice. Hell if more than 20% of our listeners
walk out, or we bury ourselves in 10's of millions in
litigation, we can turn the lights off anyway. Instead
of paying staff who come to work listening to Rush
Limbaugh, or cheer for CIA backed coups in places like
Hatti, how about getting volunteers committed to fight
for a better world? That doesn't mean a politics check
at the door. In the DC Co-op it just means that if
you're all for the war Rhyme's gonna assign you to
cover the Kwanza celebration not the state department,
you'll still be on the air and we don't have to
paralyze ourselves with infighting. What we have now
sucks! This ain't freedom folks, a better world is

This is the bio I used to win election to the WPFW LSB
as unpaid staff representative, from which I resigned
in August 2004, after posting the following on an
internal Pacifica listserve on Apr. 30, 2004.

We here at the DC Radio Co-Op had a meeting yesterday
to address racism and sexism here. A lot of the
producers in the Co-Op are part of UNITY and as the
caucus has put itself out there on these issues young
producers, in my opinion rightly, hold us to high
standards of accountability when they bring forward
such concerns. That did not mean our process was free
of acrimony, or that it is not ongoing, but some basic
things were addressed seriously and resolved. We
decided that our co-op will not tolerate anyone
acting in a manner that blatantly violates the rights
of others without taking decisive action. In doing so
we did nothing particularly heroic beyond what is
called for in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the DC
Human Relations Act. We chose not to tolerate a
hostile work enviorment and called on our station
manager to get involved in resolving a complaint of
hharassmentand intimidation by a male producer who had
worked closely with us since our inception. At the
request of the complaining producer we employed an
open process in which all co-op members could
participate. It was difficult, not all of us are happy
with the outcome, but the offending freelance producer
has agreed to resign.

Confronting racism, sexism, and patriarchy is never
easy. It is made no easier by thinking you are good on
these issues. The process we used involved bringing in
an outside arbitrator as well as the station manager.
After a meeting of almost five hours many of us felt
drained. While we had made progress many felt fearful
that the personal as the political could create a
byzantine climate of charges and counter charges in
which race, class, and gender become clubs to beat
each other over the head. That said we had as a group
moved forward on a set of explosive internal issues
and are continuing to advance. HHeterosexualmen, myself
included, are often reluctant to confront themselves
on these issues but they must be addressed. Instead
too often men cover-up and make excuses for one and
other. This is especially true of older men with
greater stature in the movement who's accusers are
often young women with little history. We have
established a 'zero tolerance' policy as of last
night. If a grievance is brought forward we have made
a commitment to investigating the facts and calling
for accountability, no matter who the perpetrator may
be. That's a step forward, it isn't the end of our
road though.

> But it is a step, and I commend our station manager
for joining us as we, no pun intended, grope are way
forward. Our process no doubt will fall short of
perfection and in the process of developing a process
we will lose some people whatever we do. That said I
am concerned to have rreceivedreports that KPFA has
shown cconsiderablyless willness to confront some of
these issues openly than our group of freelancers.
Specifically a source on the paid staff claiming first
hand knowledge of the situation has claimed to me that
Dennis BBernsteinhas for years sexually harassed and
assaulted women at KPFA. It was further claimed to me
by the same source (who I am unwilling to name without
their consent as they, jjustifiablyor not, fear
reprisal) that one woman was actually terminated on
the final day of her probation possibly for refusing
to "put out" for Mr. BBernstein Is this true? Have we
been taken to court on this before? If so how much has
been paid by the foundation to settle these kinds of
complaints? No one is perfect on these issues....but
for God's sake if these charges are true and we do
nothing but defend pprivilegeand patriarchy we stand
for nothing.
> If you care to visit DC Indymedia and type my name
in some of the audio I've done is aarchivedthere (I'm
especially proud of the ppiececalled "Human Rights"
done at the end of 2003). I have also published for
Poor Magazine while residing in SF and in City Paper
here (just a letter). A search on Google will turn up
some of the direct action stuff and arrests. I am
co-founder of the group Mayday DC, which I am no
longer active with. My history with the housing
struggle goes back to the middle 80's Paul DiRienzo,
once a personal fFriend knows me personally (as does
former Rev. Frank Morales). I currently reside at the
Olive Branch a house similar to the late Phillip
Berrigan's Jonah House in Baltimore, it is also

I am not a journalist, but a community activist. I
first became involved in social issues during the 1986
occupation of Columbia University's Hamilton Hall in
protest to apartheid in South Africa. Two years ago I
was one of 4 activists to takeover the Franklin School
here in Washington DC in protest to the shortage of
homeless services in the District. The government has
since opened the building, unused for 17 years, as a
hypothermia shelter during the
winter months.

For the past 2 years I have been been involved with
Rhyme Kakthouda and the DC radio co-op in creating
programming that seeks to address the causes of
conflict in our community, our nation, and our world.
Since then my work for radio has been heard
nationally on Free Speach Radio News, and Peacewatch
as well as locally on the DC Co-op's Voices with
Visions, Spirit in Action, and Metrowatch. In addition
my work has also appeared in both print and audio on
DC Indymedia. Last year I was elected to and
served on the WPFW local station board as a staff
delegate. " We can not expect that CNN or Fox will do
our work for us. Another world is possible only if we
build ourselves the society we want."

The CPB has already cut budget by 1 million. Ambrose
and his new 'administrative council" are interested in
settling nothing. If my West Coast sources are right
Jim Bennet deliberately destroyed records he knew
would be subject to subpoena in Ber stein's personnel
file, a crime incidently. Fi, fie, foe, fum, I smell
the US Attorney General asking a lot of embarrassing
questions once he convenes a grand jury (which believe
me he will). Now the legal bills: first Haharan,
Solange Echeverría is in discovery now (where you
request relevant official records of a non-profit
prior to going into open court), next
week, Myself, I meet with counsel and the EEOC
investigator July 19th. Pacifica defense before grand
jury (obstruction of justice, destruction of public
records, conspiracy to misuse public funds, etc, etc.
Now media, unless you want to handle this yourself we
meed a PR firm. I haven't even touched on the CPB, or
the FCC....this the United Way all over. Pacicfica is
heading to bankruptcy court. If they lose...mid 8
figures to the plaintiffs....fines....loss of all CPB bills either way...35-40% drop in
listener contributions out west at least sound reasonable?
Oh yeah, and some folks are gonna actually get to find
out how effective that new prison rape legislation is,
if they actually destroyed public records to obstruct justice.
Those to want to sell this network and who nearly drove it
into bankruptcy are not gone. Even as I write this be assured that
out there are men who want a new war who I suspect have powerful friends in thew foundation promising them that the frequencies will be auctioned off soon, just have patience and the voice of the left will once and for all be silenced.

New Comments are disabled, please visit


Re: Censored

--- Jared Ball wrote:

> To: Thomas Gomez ,
> Mark ,
> Shani O'Neal ,
> Lester B. Wallace lll ,
> thomas ruffin
> From: Jared Ball
> Subject: Fwd: WPFW Troubles...
> Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2005 13:09:06 -0400
> Hello everyone,
> Ron (Pinchback GM WPFW) emailed me back saying he
could not comment on
> the issue we
> discussed the other day nor could he allow Tom on
> the airwaves since
> formal complaints have been filed. He asked for my
> cooperation and i
> agreed.
> j
The Blackademics (a show on WPFW) had interviewed
three of us including a local board member Attorney
Thomas Ruffin, former Mt. Pleasant ANC Commisioner
Marco Del Fuego. and myself about the issues in the
complaint and planned to broadcast it tuesday
evening.This action was retaliatory for my filling of
the original Discrimination on basis of National
Origin complaint scheduled to be heard before the
Human Right Commission on July 19 10:30 am.


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