Sunday, January 31, 2016

A bit of marathon nostalgia...

We find ourselves on the eve of another month-long fundraising marathon. This practice of on-the-air begging began June 29th, 1965, but it was not the snake oil market that it has become. We called it a "marathon," because that's what it was, and the stations fate really did hang in the balance. Years later, someone told us that we had come up with a unique concept: suspending all regular programming and pitched uninterrupted until our goal was reached in pledges. No premiums, just a promise that listener support would keep this unusual radio station and its intelligent program schedule on the air. That was really all our listeners wanted. Born out of desperation, the idea was hatched over lunch with News Director, Joanne Grant, whom I had hired a couple of weeks earlier. 

As Joan and I discussed the problem, it occurred to me that, since our unorthodox, eclectic programming and total absence of commercials was the reason why people sent us money, we should underscore the seriousness of our situation by taking it all off the air until we have the $25,000.

By the time we had finished our dessert and coffee, we had a loosely formulated plan: I would break into the middle of Joan's 6 PM newscast and announce that we would cease airing our regular program schedule until we had the needed sum in pledges. Our phones started ringing immediately.

Seeing the overwhelming result of this experiment, Pacifica's President, Hallock Hoffman, asked me to conduct a marathon at each of our other stations, KPFA and KPFK. They, too, exceeded their respective goals and fund raising marathons became an annual event—there were no additional ones nor were "premiums" lures needed. See 

I should add that we made a few phone calls prior to launching the drive, inviting people to stop by and help us pitch for money. The response was fantastic (see paragraph 4 of Hallock's letter), especially from the jazz community, but this was all done in such haste and with preparation so scant that it fit on a cocktail napkin. Thus, when pianists Herbie Hancock and Roger Kellaway said they'd be there, we realized that we had a major problem: no piano. I managed to rent an upright for delivery the next day; in the meantime, John Corigliano, our Music Director (and not yet an Oscar winner) ran home a picked up his barebones electric keyboard—bear in mind that electric pianos were not taken seriously in 1965, for good reason, and this one was strictly for working at home—no frills. That day, Herbie had his first experience with a plugged-in keyboard, and Roger Kellaway did quite well accompanying Joe Williams on it. The following day, the real thing was delivered and, with a lot of help from a friendly piano dealer, we could keep it.

When Dave Lambert heard what we were doing, he showed up in the early morning hours, carrying wonderful airchecks of Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan (Annie Ross had left) and other Lambert groups—Dave was always assembling interesting vocal groups. At one point, he spotted the keyboard in the studio and tried it out. I think you will agree that this is a far more acceptable way to raise money, and the funny thing i that we always received considerably more than was pledged. You can do that when you have an honest, intelligent radio station that nourishes its listeners.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thursday night's PNB spectacle.

There was a PNB phone-based meeting last night, one that defies description and surely earned the distinction of being the most chaotic, unproductive gathering of these bozos to date. This is the ultimate "thank you gift" the new and vandalized Pacifica has for its rapidly dwindling listenership.

Everybody should hear this, including the FCC, but especially anyone who contemplates giving Pacifica a donation. Be forewarned that it is long and lacking in substance, which is why I recommend that you start with the entrance of Mozart—yes, Amadeus! I need not explain further except to say that the great composer has patiently waited in the wings as the Pacifica overture built up to a climax. It all has to do with the ongoing war of the factions. There has just been a network-wide election and the JUCs of NYC (you know, the Cerenians, saw their plot to win the majority not go as rigged (I mean, planned). Last-minute skulduggery did not go so well, either—WBAI was declared unfit for this board and... well, cue Herr Mozart.

At the bottom, you will find the entire disaster in three parts, including the musical interlude. You will probably want to skip around, but you will miss some gems if you do.

Our friend, 'indigo pirate', listened from beginning to end—a true test of endurance that rendered him speechless. However, after the dust settled and the last phone was disconnected, he managed to get himself together and gather the following impression:

In ancient times two of the many unpleasant forms in which one might find one’s end were… 

The death of a thousand cuts – self evident, self explanatory, though details of course vary.

Punishment of the sack – the party is placed in a sack with an assortment of wild animals and unceremoniously dumped in the sea, preferably at night.

There is also, of course, the case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce, the thematic center of Dickens ‘Bleak House’ – a long-running and contentious legal battle which in time consumes the inheritance at the center of the dispute.

Now I came to find myself wondering which if these might be most applicable to Pacifica. All, all too clearly, fit quite nicely.

In the end, I found the punishment of the sack most fitting, with the observation that in this instance the parties concerned have placed themselves in the sack and, with their own fine company and an accompaniment of wild snarling clawing peck-peck-pecking wee little beasties have found themselves descending slowly in the cold cruel sea, in a night of their own making.

A fitting end, perhaps?

~ ‘indigo pirate

Here is the entire cast: Act 1, Act II, Act III

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Exile newsletter: Jan. 28, 2016

January 28, 2016
For Immediate Release

Within days of the seating of the new KPFK local station board after the landslide victory of the Committee to Strengthen KPFK, GM Leslie Radford and roommate Adam Rice suggested to staff members the LA station was in "lockdown" after banning volunteer receptionist (and one of the Committee's staffer candidates), Allan Coie from the station. Coie, a retired attorney, stated the reasons for his firing were that he gave out the number of the Pacifica National Office to a caller and gave program director Alan Minsky listener complaints that were called in about the substituion of Something's Happening in the M-Th midnight to 3am hours. Coie said Radford told him the listener complaints were "personal to her". Rice then fired him and told him he would no longer be admitted on station premises. A petition to restore the popular overnight program curated by Roy of Hollywood (Something's Happening) can be found here. 

The LA station is certainly in a state of breakdown with no Internet stream all day Tuesday,archives stalled again, and no voice mail system. The station's next fund drive begins in the first week of February with a goal of $600,000, almost twice what the station raised in the December fund drive that concluded on December 23rd after 17 days of 24/7 on-air fundraising.

KPFK's management team, Radford and Rice, were focused on taking to the air Monday at midnight to spend an hour reading aloud and responding to posts on the Los Angeles Independent Media Center about the unpopular late night program change. Both the original anonymous post and a lengthy reply by an unpaid staff member were removed by IMC editors for racially charged content. The original post (author unknown: nom de plume "a KPFK donor") objected to the frequent profanity on Safe Harbor. The staff member reply, complete with pictures of hooded Klansmen, referred to the new station board overwhelmingly elected by KPFK donors as the White Citizens Council, the terrorist neighborhood groups that enforced racial segregation in the South in the 20th century.

The program can be heard in its entirety here. A donor who called in to address the program's subject said the program was getting on her nerves, the hosts sounded like kids in a candy shop who were cursing because they could, and she would never make any donations to KPFK ever again, in this brief snippet.The narrowcast program broadcast at 110,000 watts from Santa Barbara to San Diego a discussion of Internet posts probably read by less then 3 dozen people. The program had extensive technical problems referred to frequently on-air and used charged language including telling someone to "go back to their gay corner".

The ongoing board election turmoil continues. At New York's WBAI  the Siegel/Brazon faction has been preposterously trying to seat a last-place finisher from the 2012 election in a vacant seat after the 2015 election results were released. The NY Siegel/Brazonites are trying to upend the election results which left the independents with a 13-11 majority. NY's delegates assembly met on Tuesday night, achieved quorum and elected 4 members to the 2016 national board: Alex Steinberg, Bob Young, Frank LeFever and staffer Shawn Rhodes.

At the other stations: KPFK elected Grace Aaron, former board chair and executive director, Jan Goodman, Michael Novick and staffer Jonathan Alexander, KPFT elected Bill Crosier, Wesley Bethune, Adriana Casenave and staffer Vinita Patel-Adams, KPFA reinstated their 2015 delegation with no changes and WPFW elected Nancy Sorden, Tony Norman, former GM Ron Pinchback and staffer Jim Brown. The 2015 national board majority previously elected two affiliate directors, both from stations without current Pacifica affiliate agreements.

Long-time WBAI programmer Gary Null, after several verbal warnings to the network, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York. The civil action #1:16-CV-241 was filed against the Pacifica Foundation and individually against WBAI general manager Berthold Reimers, Pacifica's last three executive directors (Margy Wilkinson, Lydia Brazon and John Proffitt) and against former local station board and CAB chair Mitchel Cohen. The complaint will be published as soon as it is available. [you can access it here]

There were also firings in other parts of the network. The network's national office dismissed LaSchele Mosley, the network's payroll clerk. The African-American mother of a young child took a bereavement leave to attend the funeral of a deceased aunt and was terminated while away. She stated her firing was unjustified.

At KPFA's local station board meeting on January 23rd, a kerfluffle broke out when members of the Berkeley wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction called Save KPFA, took umbrage at a directors inspection by board member Janet Kobren that requested a few personnel files. While the discussion in full got thrown over to next month's meeting, members of the faction indicated they wanted to outlaw directors inspection of personnel records. California Corporations law section 6334 states:

6334. Every director shall have the absolute right at any reasonable time to inspect and copy all books, records and documents of every kind and to inspect the physical properties of the corporation of which such person is a director.

Personally identifying data including social security numbers and home telephone numbers and addresses should have been removed or blacked out prior to the release of personnel info in a directors inspection, but interim executive director Lydia Brazon did not comment on whether she had taken that action or not.

Brazon herself requested and received the social security numbers and payroll records of all KPFK employees in a directors inspection she performed in December 2012. Save KPFA board members Margy Wilkinson and Brian Edwards-Tiekert attended a PNB closed session in New York in January of 2013 when a KPFK employee presented a complaint regarding the release of their personally identifying information to Brazon and NY director Nia Bediako. Wilkinson and Edwards-Tiekert did not support the employee's complaint and upheld Brazon's right to have employees personally identifying information emailed to her in response to a directors inspection.

Outgoing board member Stephen Brown wrote a long breakdown of the Pacifica history of the majority's lawyer (and factional leader) Dan Siegel. While very long, the document is impeccably researched and deserves your time to read it. Among other previously unavailable information, Brown makes available extensive documentation from the sexual harassment case against KPFK general manager Eva Georgia in 2007-2008 including sanctions and misconduct by Siegel as Pacifica's attorney and ED and HR director and investigator and election supervisor.
Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at