Saturday, April 12, 2014

A call for secession...

An anonymous poster pointed the way to the following audio from KPFT. It is Leo Gold, host of The New Capital Show, hosting another program, Partisan Gridlock, yesterday afternoon, April  11. I don't know the normal nature of that show, but Mr. Gold decided that this edition would be about Pacifica.

I edited out his lengthy, rambling introduction, in which he explains, in very basic terms, what Pacifica is, that KPFT is one of the five stations it owns, and that there is currently a problem in Berkeley, on the foundation level. I redacted that part, because most of you already know the situation—Mr. Gold assumes that KPFT's listeners don't. He also wants the listeners to know that the ideas he puts forth are his own and not in any way related to his being Chair of the KPFT Local Station Board, a position he was elected to last January.

The show ends with phone calls that I think you might find interesting. 


  1. An organization is its people, not its formal structure or its bylaws, which are derivative reflections.

    The people are the problem.

    It’s the people who produce largely meritless programming.

    It’s the people who are unable to cooperate, compromise, and work together.

    People who are capable, and dedicated, and willing to work together – to quarrel and collide and scream at times, yes, but, still, to work together – can and do make a poor structure work.

    People who are not capable, and dedicated, and willing to work together, will fail in the most wonderful of structures.

    It’s the people who matter, and the people who are the problem.

    As for the idea of spinning off the five stations as separate entities, with Pacifica functioning largely as a syndicator, it’s a perfectly good idea.

    The only way it might happen, though, given the people involved, is if it is, in effect, forced upon Pacifica in the course of its disintegration, quite possibly in some form of conservatorship or receivership.

    These, however, are not to be counted upon.

    Disintegration of a minor entity such as Pacifica is a fairly chaotic series of events in which seemingly minor variables are likely to have signficiant yet nearly-impossible-to-predict effects as to detail consequences, the overall arc being, nonetheless, quite quite clear.

    ~ ‘indigopirate’

  2. Indigo, you are invoking "people" as a faceless abstraction and you proceed to theorize in truisms. Why? There is enough information about the individual players and the Pacifica's turbulent history to name names and deal in specifics Why don't you look at the facts and share your thoughts with us?

    The sad situation involving the state of affairs of Pacifica today is the end stage of a historic process, in which the centralized power of the Pacifica National Board came in conflict against the local stations, and which Pacifica Foundation lost. The fact that you have five stations that evolved separately that are locked into their respective demographics, have their own separate organizational cultures and can not stand side by side underscores Pacifica's utter failure over the decades to implement their vision. What you have instead is Pacifica Foundation failing to influence local stations and acting to weaken each individual station so as to force Pacifica syndication on them and thus make itself relevant. Consider the fact that Pacifica National Board has laid off the successful Morning Show at KPFA, a functioning news department at BAI, the Free Speech Radio News, Pacifica has fired the DC station's General manager when he tried to carry NPR content on his station and a previous DC station manager when he tried to establish a DC based regional community broadcasting network for fear that it may get away from Pacifica. This behavior makes individual Pacifica stations weak, and only makes the station involved more dependent on Pacifica offerings. Now, what would a real visionary do, a normal businessman, who is trying to succeed? She or he, would take those best offerings and PROMOTE and MARKET them , syndicating these shows OUTSIDE the Pacifica network. But we don't have that, do we? What we have is a smug Summer Reese and her predecessor, gutting Pacifica stations' best shows, while relying on fringe marketing (Null, Blosdale) to raise its revenue. Another interesting point is that When considering cutting its operating budget, Summer Rese chose to cut the Free Speech Radio News, which was a Pacifica asset and kept on much more expensive Democracy Now! Can somebody explain what motivated her choice? Three official reasons that Summer Reese was fired: She put Null Marketing into heavy rotation, she incurred highest operating costs in PNB's history (most of it is Pacifica's debt to Democracy Now Productions), and then she took KPFA's money to help pay severance to FSRN's staff.

    Then you got the dreaded Siegel faction. He would sell off BAI and save the rest! What's so bad about kicking Haskins and Reimers out on their ass and make them look for work. I am all for it. You know what else? I like KPFA programming better! There are only two problems with this plan: They overestimate how much they will be able to sell BAI frequency for, and also, they intend to keep the money at the national level, which is more of the same - Pacifica Foundation trying to make itself relevant. Two more things: The insane and expensive Local Station Board bylaws were implemented deliberately to weaken the national lever Pacifica Foundation. And another thing, The Morning Show was exactly the type of extremist left wing show that would not be broadcast on NPR stations and which was doing really well at KPFA, leading the station's programs in fund raising. There are two factions in Pacifica. The Reese faction is comprised of more hard-core and more radicalized activists, who are not averse to participating in direct action. The Anti-Reese majority faction consists of more mainstream politically active lawyers, community organizers, and established media functionaries. Well, it was the politically motivated decision by the more radicalized Reese faction to lay off the KPFA's Morning Show, that was too left wing to live on NPR. Reese and her cronies needs to go, if you expect the Pacifica local stations to grow any quality programming.

    What is going on

  3. Thanks to both the anonymous tipster & Chris for posting this.

    I had never heard of Leo Gold. I have to say I'm surprised by how vague his independence idea was. He says nothing about how it could be achieved, about whether it is even permissible given Pacifica's articles of incorporation which set limits on its possible bylaws; more pointedly, he is silent on the aim - other than escaping organisational chaos & reducing the Pacifica workers to selling programmes, what he calls syndicating.

    In the Great USA of 2014 is Mr Gold a typical example of what passes for outlining an idea & making informed comment on non-commercial radio?

    Interestingly he doesn't describe Pacifica's mission, or its articles of incorporation which are its founding rules (but perhaps this was said in what was edited out). I would suggest the most relevant part of Pacifica's mission statement is this:

    "To establish and operate for educational purposes, in such manner that the facilities involved shall be as nearly self-sustaining as possible, one or more radio broadcasting stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission [. . .]"

    That's right: Pacifica Foundation Radio is required to "operate [. . .] radio broadcasting stations". No ifs, no buts: operate FCC radio broadcasting stations. That seemed to pass Mr Gold by. (this page doesn't say it, but the wording is the whole of bylaw, Article One, Identity and Purposes, Section 2: Purposes, except for the bylaw's introductory clause: "The purposes of the Foundation, as stated in Article II of the Articles of Incorporation, are as follows:") ("the Foundation" is Pacifica Foundation Radio)

    My last point is that Mr Gold is so vague, so vacuous in what he said, that all sorts of motives, arguments, concepts, & aims could fill the void. Please note that what he said is consistent with the politics of Ron Paul & his Campaign for Liberty, with those associated with market fundamentalism. This may explain why, in the edited clip, he never mentioned the following, & how they would be better served by station independence:

    "educational purpose";

    "to conduct classes and workshops in the writing and producing of drama; to establish awards and scholarships for creative writing; to offer performance facilities to amateur instrumentalists, choral groups, orchestral groups and music students";

    "In radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this Foundation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms" (all three quotes taken from Article II of the incorporation);

    "The Foundation is committed to peace and social justice" (Art. 1, Sec. 3: Principles);

    "The Foundation is committed to diversity and inclusion of all nations, races, ethnicities, creeds, colors, classes, genders, sexual orientations, ages and people with disabilities in its programming, staff, management, committees and governance" (Art. 1, Sec. 4: Commitment to Diversity);

    let alone a practice of either progressive radio or progressive ideas.

    Do office-holders in the Pacifica network undergo ethics training, does Pacifica have an ethics committee? Mr Gold's basics may not be consistent with Pacifica's.

    1. Today, Tuesday, 15 April, is the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Pacifica Foundation. There may be all sorts of Pacifica programmes on this, but right now on both KPFK & KPFA Mitch Jeserich, Letters & Politics, is doing a 'then & now'.

      He just interviewed a co-founder, Richard Moore (sp.), & now he's speaking with the new Interim Executive Director, Bernard Duncan, perhaps his first interview on Pacifica in his current post. (live broadcast)

    2. There was a 25th Anniversary program aired in 1974. It features several of Pacifica/KPFK's original players, including Lew Hill, his widow and son, and is very interesting.

  4. I'm sure you're absolutely right, Brooser :)

    ~ 'indigopirate'

  5. Jara,

    You are absolutely correct to be skeptical of Leo Gold. While researching the named members of the PNB, I came across an article, that indicates that all is not well at KPFT. Specifically, I wanted to see who Richard Uzzell was, the only Male in the Reese faction, an all girls club, found out that he is from KPFT, and realized that the other KPFT delegate, Hank Lamb, is on the Margie Wilkinson's side. While researching both, I found out that Uzzell is apparently an activist and a construction worker, which is fine, and he has done security work protecting womens reproductive health centers and escorting women to and from abortion clinics, among others. A man who works with his hands and backs his beliefs with direct action. I can respect that. I also discovered that Uzzell backs Tracy Rosenberg, and dear old Tracy got rid of the KPFA's morning show. Uzzell sidestepped the politics of that incident and defended Tracy on her good fiscal sense and responsibility. Trying to find information on Hank Lamb, I came across a local article, here:

    In November 2013 there was some struggle for power at the KPFT local board, with a minority of 6 circulating a petition to oust their Local Board secretary named Weisgal. Weisgal was accused of abusing the Robert's Rules to dominate and control the agenda at the meetings, of misrepresenting KPFT at public events, and of using his Real-Estate-Tax-Protesting-On-Line seminar, that his company is teaching, to protest KPFT policies by writing letter to FCC. I am not sure, what went on at KPFT, but when a local newspaper tried to report this story, concerned that the quality of the KPFT's programming will suffer as a result, the station board members refused to speak to the reporter, including Uzzell, who ran for the local station board on the ticket of openness and transparency, and then rudely hung up on the reporter. Hank Lamb was the only one on the board who talked to the reporter and explained to him what was going on at the KPFT. Lamb also appears to have experience in grant writing and working in the non-profit sector, including Pacifica, at the time when it was based on Bowery, in New York, I am guessing. This is a contrast - comparison between a Reese supporter and a detractor from the same station.

    With regards to Leo Gold, I have no idea of who he is or what his credentials are. Based on the internet postings I have seen, he may be too mainstream for some conspiracy theorists and for those, who buy Blosdale DVD's. That would be a plus, but he may also be a mainstream commercial talk show host trying to promote his product. He may be a bit naïve, that Pacifica syndication can make him a household name among Rush Limbaugh, and his sentiment that he (and KPFT) will do a lot better once they get the Pacifica off their backs may be delusional, naïve, and disingenuous. He raises a good question though - why hasn't Pacifica syndicated the best of its local radio shows and promoted them nationwide, outside the fice stations, the way NPR does, or why not sell your broadcasts to Satellite radio stations or to Clear channel broadcasting, if they will carry your content? Even if they air it with commercials on the mainstream stations, that would bring revenue to Pacifica and give more reason for listeners to tune in to Pacifica - to hear these same shows commercial free. I can't see, why Pacifica could not operate the five stations and syndicate its content. But wait a minute, didn't Pacifica lose the CPB grant to do Latino broadcasting in California, because they weren't reaching enough Latinos? Does that mean that Pacifica CAN NOT operate radio stations? The irony is staggering...

    1. Thanks, Brooser Bear, for spending the time assembling this info.

      I agree, not only is there nothing wrong with Pacifica or a local station promoting worthwhile programmes, selling them to other stations, but it's intrinsically beneficial to Pacifica & its outlook - &, as you noted, it can increase Pacifica listening being ad-free (but there are the fund drives).

      'The left' is usually not just naive about money, securing adequate funding of activities, but self-destructively antagonistic. In capitalist society, entities like Pacifica have no option but to devise ways to raise money, & in my opinion it is counter-productive to ditch the schedule with long fund drives.