KPFA & Pacifica, a strategic asset for social movements
by Daniel Borgström
August 27, 2012
KPFA and the Pacifica radio network are a strategic asset for grassroots movements challenging the status quo. It has given Occupy some very good coverage. However, this cannot be taken for granted, because this radio station and network are under attack (from within). There is now an election going on for the KPFA board which could determine the future of this radio station and the Pacifica network.
KPFA, at 94.1 FM, is the local station here in Northern California. Pacifica is the parent organization; it has stations in five major cities. It also has over a hundred affiliated stations. In short, this is a nationwide radio network. Since the Occupy Movement has been nationwide, we can see the strategic importance of keeping the Pacifica network intact. However, there are some who want to break up the network; a group calling itself “Save KPFA” has been pushing to separate KPFA from Pacifica. That’s a bad idea, because if the network were broken up, the stations would likely fall into the hands of centrist or even rightwing broadcasting companies. A breakup must be prevented; this is one of the main issues in the upcoming board election.
In the KPFA election, 9 board members will be chosen. There are two competing alliances with totally different (and in my opinion irreconcilable) visions for KPFA’s future. In a nutshell, the situation is comparable to that of Occupy Oakland vs. the Alameda County Labor Council bureaucrats — who for a while seemed to be our natural allies, but ended up opposing Occupy and lining up with Mayor Jean Quan and the Democratic Party.
We may remember that last fall, almost from day one, the Democratic Party set out to co-opt Occupy, to turn it into the Democrats’ equivalent of the Tea Party. As soon as tents appeared in the Plaza, Mayor Jean Quan and the Oakland City Council (all Democrats) made a major bid to co-opt Occupy Oakland. They were actually very nice to Occupy at first, and it was only after the General Assembly rejected their advances that the Democrats sent police to attack us.
The same struggle has been going on at KPFA. The difference being that whereas the General Assembly decided within the short space of about two days that it didn’t want to carry water for the Democrats, KPFA has spent 2 decades on this question, and is still in the process of making up its collective mind.
KPFA’s board consists of 24 members — slightly over half are aligned with the pro-Democrat labor bureaucracy, and several of this faction, which calls itself “SaveKPFA,” are members of MoveOn.org and the Wellstone Club. Pamela Drake of “SaveKPFA” openly works for Mayor Jean Quan. They are also the group that has been attempting to do a recall on Tracy Rosenberg, a highly effective KPFA board member and advocate for media democracy. If the “Save KPFA” group wins out in this struggle, KPFA’s programming will most certainly be unfriendly to Occupy and other grassroots movements. Occupy will NOT receive good coverage.
Opposing the pro-Democrat faction is an alliance (including Henry Norr, David Welsh, Stan Woods among others) which is friendly to Occupy. Most of its members have taken part in Occupy Oakland’s actions. This group is “United for Community Radio.”
That is the KPFA situation in a nutshell; for more details, there are articles at my website, “Daniel’s Free Speech Zone” http://danielborgstrom.blogspot.com ; also see
stoptherecall.org stopthekpfarecall.org and supportkpfa.org.
THINGS YOU CAN DO:
Become a KPFA subscriber and vote in the upcoming board election.
Attend KPFA board meetings; they’re monthly, and most are held in Berkeley.
Read up on the issues and the current history of KPFA at the above websites.
Share Facebook posts about “United for Community Radio.”
TO BECOME A VOTING MEMBER of KPFA, a $25 subscription must be delivered to the station by August 30th. It’s at:
KPFA Radio Station, 94.1 FM
1929 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Berkeley CA 94704
(One block north of University Ave.)
For more information about KPFA’s board election, please contact:
Aharon Morris, Local Election Supervisor
510.848.6767 ext. 212
or via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org