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KPFA Local Station Board Elections: Vote to Save Progressive Radio
by Aaron Glantz
Friday Sep 17th, 2010 6:21 PM
The battle here isn't between left and right. It's been competent, professional journalists who know how to dig up dirt and hold government and corporations accountable and a small group of gadflies who think following journalism ethics and protecting labor rights somehow constitute selling out.
I've always tried to avoid writing about the internal politics of KPFA Radio. There are so many big issues that I'd rather spend my time covering - the wars, the economy, the November elections to name a few. But right now, KPFA is at a critical moment and I couldn't stay silent.

The station's board of directors is up for election this month and it's critically important that one slate of candidates prevail if the station is to remain relevant.

The battle here isn't between left and right. It's been competent, professional journalists who know how to dig up dirt and hold government and corporations accountable and a small group of gadflies who think following journalism ethics and protecting labor rights somehow constitute selling out.

One slate, Save KPFA, is made up of prominent academics, attorneys, labor and community advocates who understand how to get things done.

They understand that it takes experienced, professional journalists to break the big stories. They support important new programs like Letters to Washington, where host Mitch Jeserich breaks news on a daily basis. They supported the Winter Soldier broadcasts I hosted where dozens of veterans stepped forward and testified about atrocities they personally committed or witnessed while deployed overseas. And they support the hard work that KPFA's News Department does day in and day out to bring the best local, state, national and international information that you can get anywhere on the dial.

The candidates running under the banner of Save KPFA want to keep the station true to its founding goal of investigating the causes of conflict between people and nations, and to reach a broad audience--not by watering down its radical message, but by making well-crafted and intelligent programming that doesn't condescend to the listener. They believe that they can serve the station's mission, raise revenue, and weather hard times by producing smart programming for an expanding audience.

On the other side, are those who believe that "professionalism" is a dirty word. In a time when one expects to hear calls for austerity from the right, not the left, this group thinks that the unionized paid staff of the station should be dispensed with and replaced by a station of volunteers. If one were wondering what sort of content such a station might broadcast, these folks strongly support conspiracy programming, which they seem to forget is the province of the far right. (Their allies in the network have suggested that Amy Goodman, host of the award-winning Democracy Now!, is taking CIA money to cover up the "truth" about 9/11 and have been vigorously promoting the snake oil of various hucksters as a way of raising revenue for the stations).

It's not hyperbole to say that the future of this venerable and history-making institution hangs in the balance. Whichever side wins this election will determine whether KPFA will continue to put resources into high quality programming like Winter Soldier or whether it will go the way of the rest of the media towards gutted and lackluster programming, mass lay offs, and busted unions. If you're a KPFA subscriber, I strongly encourage you to vote for the ten SaveKPFA candidates for the Local Station Board: Matthew Hallinan, Dave Saldana, Tanya Russell, Margy Wilkinson, Mark Hernandez, Suzi Goldmacher, Terry Doran, Mal Burnstein, Jack Kurzweil, and Don Goldmacher.

Voting continues until September 30. You can find out more information on the SaveKPFA slate at SaveKPFA.org. The website of the competing slate, the Independents for Community Radio, is at http://bit.ly/awwRm0.

Aaron Glantz is the author of "The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans"