Pacifica board sabotages 50 years
of free speech radio
Image copyright: Greg Broiles, 1999 - More pictures at: http://www.parrhesia.com/kpfa/
Clinton appointee Mary Frances Berry pulls the plug on KPFA, the nation's oldest listener-sponsored station, in multi-million dollar asset grab
"What is happening to Pacifica broadcasting is unprecedented in American
media history -- although not, of course, in dictatorships. Nothing gives
the feel of the anti-democratic pathology of the Pacifica board than the
audio of the forced removal of Dennis Bernstein.
On July 13, KPFA host
Bernstein was fired after broadcasting a press conference on the controversy
surrounding Pacifica Radio. Guards, hired by Pacifica management, were
ordered to remove Bernstein from the station. He refused to go. There is a
recording of what ensued shortly afterwards in the control room while KPFA
was broadcasting its evening news. KPFA news co-host/director Mark Mericle
began explaining the situation to listeners -- as you will hear -- but
Pacifica management pulled the plug. After a few minutes of silence the
station began broadcasting archive tape."
- Sam Smith. The Progressive Review
Audio of the last minutes of KPFA
Berkeley - July 31, 1999
10,000 + march to demand the resignation of Mary Frances Berry and the
institution of a democractic management process at the Pacifica Foundation
One picture is worth 1,000 words.
Mary Frances Berry - Architect of the Meltdown
Civil rights commission in disarray - Important records missing, millions unaccounted for
California State launches inquiry into actions by Pacifica Board -
It's all about money - Berry secretly puts public station up for sale - then lies about it
Berry guts diversity at Houston station - then calls critics racists
PBS - Democractic fundraising scandal - Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Hillary Clinton's close friend, Diane Blair, may be involved. Husband Jim put Clinton in the controversial commodity trade that turned 1K to $100K.
What this is all about
"I think the conflict has been wrongly defined from the outset, as you do. Casting the conflict as one between management and labor too narrowly defines the issues. The broader issue is simply this:
Will KPFA operate according to Lewis Hill's vision for the station, or will
it become a tamed-down mouthpiece for the values of corporate America,
fearful of criticizing the likes of a Clinton or any other administration
committed to maintaining America as the one power on earth permitted to
maintain its imperial dominance through force of arms. The sole radio voice
opposed to this stance is KPFA."
- Maury Englander, labor leader and multi-decade suporter of KPFA
The Brasscheck overview
What Lewis Hill, founder of KPFA and Pacficia, intended for listener-sponsored radio (in 231 words)
"...to get any real art or any significant communication, one must rely
entirely on individuals, and must resign himself to accept not only their
uniqueness but the possibility that the individual may at any time fail.
By suppressing the individual, the unique, the industry reduces the risk
of failure (abnormality) and assures itself a standard product for mass
The answer of the KPFA project on this point is not necessarily the
only good answer, but it is explicit. It requires that the people who
actually do the broadcasting should also be responsible for what and
why they broadcast. In short, they must control the policy which
determines their actions...
A constant exchange between the staff and the audience enriches the schedule with fresh judgment and new ideas, materials, and issues. Thus members of
the staff work out their own ideas and, if you like, categorical
imperatives, with some of the undistracted certitude one feels in
deciding what he will have for dinner, subject to the menu. Listener
sponsorship makes possible this extremely productive balance of
interests and initiatives...
"(KPFA is) a radio station fully supported by subscribers who have not responded
to a special gift offer, who are not participating in a lottery, who have
not ventured an investment at 3 per cent, but who use this means of
supporting values that seem to them of basic and lasting importance."
From The Theory of Listener Sponsored Radio
Follow the story
Bulletins and overview
Yahoo has the best reporting on this story
Excellent overview from WBAI producers
Radio 4All: The movement to reclaim the airways - Bulletins on KPFA crisis
Restoring Pacifica -
Bulletins on KPFA crisis
The Brasscheck overview
An unblinking view from Houston
Comprehensive background material
Theft of Pacifica - Extensive collection of articles and references
Shedding light - a 40 page primer
Early warning from CounterPunch - The present board's move to take control of Pacifica's assets
Anatomy of a heist - The detail's of the takeover's engineering
union busters hired by Pacifica board to prepare for asset grab
Board sabotages WBAI's finances to set up forced sale of frequency
Live Internet streaming from Pacifica station WBAI in New York
This site dedicated to the memory of Samori Marksman, WBAI's program director,
who died Tuesday, March 23, 1999.
"I never met Samori Marksman but because I know WBAI, I feel as if I knew him
well. When I came to New York to raise funds for the burned out Black churches, WBAI
practically turned over the radio station to me. Any time you listened, you were likely
to hear a woman with a Tyrone accent telling you to come to a fund raiser for the
burned churches. Because of WBAI, and thanks to Samori Marksman, we had an
overflow crowd and raised over ten thousand dollars! It is in large measure to WBAI that my daughter Roisin is a free woman today. For nearly 6 months scarecely a week went by when her case wasn't covered by Wakeup Call, Democracy Now, or Radio Free Eireann. None of this happened by accident. Samori Marksman built a radio station out of his own integrity and commitment. The only way to mourn him is to rededicate ourselves to the struggle for freedom around the world. That struggle will be Samori Marksman's monument."
- Bernadette Devlin McAliskey
Copyright notice: Any information on this page may be
freely distributed as long as it is accompanied by the URL
(web address) of this site which is http://www.brasscheck.com/pacifica