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Battle of the Bylaws
by Akio Tanaka
Pacifica is in peril because some stations do not have the programming necessary to attract enough listener-members to sustain them, which was the basis of founder Lew Hill's theory of listener sponsored radio.

Each station ultimately has to be self-sustaining, and a functional PNB has to be able to apply Lew Hill's theory and take appropriate remedial action when they're not.
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Pacifica is in peril because some stations do not have the programming necessary to attract enough listener-members to sustain them, which was the basis of founder Lew Hill's theory of listener sponsored radio.

——
Lew Hill on listener sponsorship:

“Listener sponsorship is an answer to the practical problem of getting better radio programs and keeping them.”

“The fact that the subscription is voluntary merely enlarges the same point [that programming must attract sufficient listeners]. We make a considerable step forward, it seems to me, when we use a system of broadcasting which promises that the mediocre will not survive. But the significance of what does survive increases in ways of the profoundest import to our times when it proceeds from voluntary action. Anyone can listen to a listener-sponsored station.

Anyone can understand the rationale of listener sponsorship—that unless the station is supported by those who value it, no one can listen to it, including those who value it. This is common sense.”

——
Lew Hill on programming:

Many people claim that they are upholding Lew Hill’s vision and fulfilling Pacifica’s mission.

Some say programming has to be progressive and radical.
Some say programming has to have diversity.
Someone said “[Lew Hill] founded this place particularly and specifically to broadcast wildly unpopular perspectives that could never get on the air anywhere else. “

What Lew Hill said about programming was more expansive and enlightened.

“The theory I want to discuss rests on two particular assumptions: first, that radio can and should be used for significant communication and art; and second, that since broadcasting is an act of communication, it ought to be subject to the same aesthetic and ethical principles as we apply to any communicative act, including the most personal.”

“The basic situation of broadcasting must be such that artists and thinkers have a place to work—with freedom. Short of this, the suffering listener has no out.
It may be clearer why I indicated at the outset that listener sponsorship involves some basic concerns. This is the first problem it sets out to solve—to give the genuine artist and thinker a possible, even a desirable, place to work in radio.”

“KPFA’s present [1951] air schedule is a modest example. It embraces four main categories— 1) music, 2) drama and literature, 3) public affairs, and 4) children’s programs.”

——
Problems occur when we forget Lew Hill’s theory.

No matter what kind of programs stations produce, the programs have to attract enough listener sponsors to sustain the station. This is the critical and overriding criteria for programming.

Unfortunately, there are stations that run large deficits and drain the network of resources.

The Pacifica National Board (PNB) has been dealing with this problem by taking money from self-sustaining station. This is not sustainable in the long run.

Any efforts to address these precarious financial arrangements are typically denounced and dismissed as attacks on progressive and diversity programming.

—-
Why problem continues - the current Bylaws.

Jim Dingeman of WBAI recently summarized the problem.

“Rigid adherence to narrow visions of what “community” radio is have dominated the grids for decades
Each 168 hour weekly grid of analog radio has to be rethought
This is especially since payables and the ability to meet payroll for the staffs is always a weekly roller coaster
Shows that do not succeed in having enough people to listen to them over populate every grid of every radio station in the Pacifica system
Since 80 percent of more of our revenues come from listener members our audiences have given a strong collective signal with their credit cards for the past twenty years
If you cannot pay for basic expenses and that seems regrettably to be where we are at
Attachment to forms of organizing sound that in some cases may be right on but basically contribute nothing to weekly expenses has to be changed right now”

“Maintaining illusory tropes that just simply bringing the community in by more community oriented shows has simply not worked in terms of numbers for decades.”

The current Bylaws were put in place 20 years ago.

Each of the five stations have four directors, so station with few members has same vote as station with many members. The governance resembles the US Senate rather than House of Representatives. The board’s solution to stations with deficit is to take money from self-sustaining station, instead of addressing the problem.

—-
What is the solution?

Each station ultimately has to be self-sustaining, and a functional PNB has to be able to apply Lew Hill's theory and take appropriate remedial action when they're not.

—-
New Day Bylaws.

The New Day Bylaws might better address these problems.

Under the New Day Bylaws a majority (12 of 15) of Directors would be directly elected by the members, so the Board would be more responsive to the membership.

Pacifica members voted for the New Day Bylaws by a 6820 to 5471 margin in June of 2021

However, Pacifica’s General Counsel ruled that the Bylaws referendum lost, based on a questionable interpretation of California law. A court ruling to settle this issue is currently being sought by New Day.

The status-quo situation is neither tenable nor sustainable.

What can be more self-defeating than insolvency?
by Jeremy Lansman
Pacifica Radio has always been close to shutting down as it operates on the financial as well as the political edge. If you cannot accept that, perhaps you would prefer NPR.
by Steve Heimel (acme [at] gci.net)
I agree with the analysis that listener sponsorship cannot work if there are not enough listeners to attain sustainability. The answer is accountability. Without competent management, Pacifica stations do not have accountability. I don't think the national board has ever had the resources to find and retain competent management that is not invested in one or another faction of Pacifica programming. It is a challenge to management creativity to be able to equitably exercise authority over such diverse interests. As a former Pacifica manager, I am in favor of having good local boards empowered to seek and retain good managers and hold them accountable. The managers, in turn, have to hold the programmers accountable for building and retaining sufficient loyal audiences to provide
listener support. There can be metrics for this. The important thing is that audience building must be continuous, because any special interest audience will suffer attrition over time. I repeat, there can be metrics for this. But the manager must be competent, fair, and have the authority to apply those metrics.
by Tom Voorhees
The #5 legally failed New Day top down take over was specifically engineered with new bylaws to eventually put KPFA in control of all of the Pacifica network with it's top heavy millions in assets.

Tired of stale political analysis?

Please continue to donate to your local Pacifica station to rebuild with a national news director fired by KPFA in 1971 and bring back the independent commentary hour dumped by KPFA in 1992.

by James McFadden
The New Day Pacifica faction (previously called United for Independent Radio), which pushed to elect Aki Tanaka as part of their bylaws takeover, has branches in both California stations (KPFA, KPFK) and allies at the Texas station, but fortunately remains in a minority position. This faction, perhaps cult is a better word, has been crying “the sky is falling” for the last 4 years while simultaneous doing its best to create havoc and drain Pacifica reserves with lawsuits and bylaw elections. In my 3.5 years on the LSB they have attempted multiple lawsuits that failed (but cost Pacifica dearly), attempted two bylaws changes to put them in charge (that failed but drained Pacifica coffers), supported a shutdown of WBAI in New York which was reversed (but cost WBAI donations since in happened during a fund drive), and most recently their members helped file a petition with the FCC to deny WBAI its standard license renewal (putting at risk our license estimated at $50+ million). Their crying foul in the last bylaws election, trying to change the election rules after the fact, rules they had agreed to, is reminiscent of Trump trying to overturn the 2020 election. The pettiness and vindictive actions by this group to silence some members of the KPFA LSB are there for all to hear since those meetings are recorded (https://kpftx.org/archive.php). Those meetings give clues to how Pacifica would be run should New Day ever gain control. To top it off, the above Aki article seems to be one more attempt to kick Pacifica when it is struggling to undo the damage inflicted by New Day and by the drop in revenues from the current COVID caused recession. If you really want to understand how Kooky this cult is, read my year old article in Counterpunch which covers most of their antics.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/06/11/a-rebuttal-to-the-kooky-protecting-pacifica-article-by-kaldveer-and-gendelman/ However, it does not include their latest lawsuit attempts and their attempts to deny WBAI its FCC license. Lastly, if you care about keeping Pacifica a multi-station network, with locally independent community radio shows, then please don’t help this New Day cult to gain control of the network. One way to help Pacifica remain a network, and protect Pacifica’s historical archive recordings for future generations, is to donate directly to the Pacifica Radio Archives at this site. https://www.pacificaradioarchives.org/
by Akio Tanaka
“Anyone can understand the rationale of listener sponsorship—that unless the station is supported by those who value it, no one can listen to it, including those who value it. This is common sense.”

“The basic situation of broadcasting must be such that artists and thinkers have a place to work—with freedom. Short of this, the suffering listener has no out.
It may be clearer why I indicated at the outset that listener sponsorship involves some basic concerns. This is the first problem it sets out to solve—to give the genuine artist and thinker a possible, even a desirable, place to work in radio.”
by Akio Tanaka
New Day is trying to change the Bylaws so a functional Board is able to apply Lew Hill's theory of listener sponsored radio.

Protectors are trying to hold the board members and stations who are responsible for the current dire situation to account.
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