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Jeff Blankfort: Time to Take Back KPFA?
KSFO/KGO corporate executive Marnie Tattersall is now in charge of KPFA's General Manager hiring process.
One might have hoped that establishing local control at Berkeley's KPFA, with a governing board elected largely by its listener-supporters, would have led to a period of relative peace and harmony at the long embattled Pacifica radio station.
However, as one of the founders of Save KPFA in 1993, and later of Take Back KPFA in 1995, following mass purges of radical programmers by station management, I remained deeply troubled.
Within the station, those who had collaborated with Pacifica and KPFA management during those purges and who had arranged sweetheart sinecures for themselves in return, are still running the station behind the scenes, never having been called to account for their cowardly behavior.
What I never would have imagined, however, is that as a result of the "democratization" of the station's governing process, the chair of the Personnel Committee which oversees the General Manager Hire Subcommittee would be the chief financial officer of KSFO, the right-wing San Francisco radio station that advertises itself as Hot Talk Radio, but whose racist, anti-immigrant, homophobic commentaries have led to it being slammed by its critics, and rightly so, as Hate Talk Radio.
Marnie Tattersall, an elected member of KPFA's Local Station Board (LSB), is the controller of four ABC-Disney-Capitol Cities radio stations in the Bay Area, including the more mainstream KGO. On the statement that she submitted to the listeners when running for the board, there was no mention of KSFO.
While one must wonder how KPFA listeners would come to elect an apparatchik of one of the most reactionary media conglomerates to the board in the first place, we must assume they never would have done so if they knew she also worked for a station where Rush Limbaugh, Fox's Sean Hannity and Laura Schlesinger are the familiar voices, as was Michael Savage before he was recently lured away by KNEW.
It is also realistic to assume that had such an individual been hired by Pacifica or KPFA management during the struggles of the late Nineties, there would have been mass protests at the station.
But, ironically, those who have criticized Tattersall and expressed their concern about the power she has attained on the board, have been either ignored or marginalized, and, as in the not too distant past, no discussion of this situation on the KPFA airwaves can be anticipated. Hence, the need for this letter to every Bay activist concerned with the future of the station and of Pacifica.
At the moment, the station's General Manager Hire Committee, at Tattersall's direction, will be making its recommendations behind closed doors this coming Sunday, October 10th, keeping the process completely out of sight of the KPFA community.
It's not too late for listeners to demand that before any decision is made, they must be given an opportunity to view and question the candidates.
In the spirit of democracy as well as Pacifica's founding mission, listeners must call on the KPFA Local Station Board to have the finalists for the general manager position appear at a public meeting to present their vision of that mission, and answer questions from listeners and staff. There can be no excuse for not doing so.
Then, the station board has to figure a way for the listeners to actually know who, exactly, is asking for their votes and why in future LSB elections.
Certainly, the 10,000 people who turned out in Berkeley in 1999 to support the locked down station and those thousands of listeners who have loyally kept KPFA alive for the past 55 years deserve nothing less.
Co-Founder, Take Back KPFA
NOTE from concerned KPFA listener:
The KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) can be reached through KPFA's web site at http://www.kpfa.org. The LSB contact link is http://www.kpfa.org/lsb.