Take an anti-racist action: Join Pacifica

I got a call the other night from an acquaintance challenging me about an email I had sent out urging people to make sure they were members of their local Pacifica station. He felt that KPFK, our station, had few or no redeeming qualities and was a sinkhole for funds he had sent in with no accountability or appreciable results in terms of program improvement or responsiveness to listeners. He was frustrated with the inability of the Local Station Board (LSB) at KPFK, which I now chair again, to accomplish needed changes or to get straight answers about the station’s finances.

I share many of those frustrations, but I am again appealing to friends, comrades, political associates, current or former listeners, readers of the digital and print publications I work on — Change Links community calendar, Turning The Tide: Journal of Inter-communal Solidarity, and the ARA E-News, members of the organizations and coalitions I work in, even people who have been burned by KPFK or Pacifica before, to take action now to make sure they are members of KPFK or another Pacifica station (WBAI, WPFW, KPFT or KPFA) before April 7.

Set aside your frustrations and take a risk to help save one of the few democratic media institutions and its potential to regain the impact it once had as a community-oriented platform for sharing and amplifying the voices of radical, grassroots movements for peace, racial, social, economic, environmental and gender justice, and democracy.

I say this is essential, because a well-heeled, skillful propaganda and outreach campaign is underway to fundamentally change the democratic Bylaws that, with all their weaknesses, have protected and preserved the existence and radical potential of KPFK and Pacifica.

April 7, just a few days away, is the deadline to become a member and vote on yet another Bylaws revision that would strip all the oversight powers of the elected Local Station Board, permanently divide the paid and unpaid staffs at the Pacifica stations by creating a new third class of membership, and appoint national officers who can dominate a new national board for three years without even allowing opposing candidates for the positions of chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer.

The potential powers and agenda of such a new board, which can be dominated by a simple majority from a single station, would extend to selling off assets such as through signal swaps or sales and to permanently censoring the voices, opinions and perspectives you could hear under the guise of “professionalization.”

Don’t be misled by fearmongering, red-baiting and claims that democratic governance is responsible for Pacifica’s financial ills. KPFK is in fact a key example of why these arguments are phony — under “professional” management of the kind  they are advocating, KPFK has shut down its own local news department and carries the KPFA news (which is not even adequate for the Bay Area, where it originates), run massive deficits despite spending more than half the year in endless fund-drives, and offers mainly nationally syndicated programming during the most-listened-to morning and evening drive time.

As a result of these management (and programmer) failings, rooted in an unwillingness to engage with and provide an unfiltered platform to the voices of radical popular movements for social transformation, liberation, and eco-socialism, KPFK has been doomed to irrelevance and has lost more than three quarters of its listener-sponsor membership over the last decade plus. The changes that the Bylaws replacement proponents, New Day Pacifica, are offering would worsen these problems, not solve them.

I am not saying “trust me;” I am asking you to join me in responding to the call  from many of the BIPOC broadcasters, unpaid staff and listener activists from the stations around Pacifica, who have challenged me to take one more risk, make one more effort, to challenge institutional white supremacy and complacency within “progressive” or “left” media, to challenge anti-Blackness and other forms of oppression and exclusion, to step up to challenge anti-communism and support for humanitarian war within Pacifica. 

Please check out https://pacificafightback.org and view the recordings of some of the national town halls we have put on with people from Black Lives Matter, from the Palestinian struggle, from SURJ and White People for Black Lives, with radical political and cultural figures such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Matt Sedillo and others. Consider the arguments in favor of a better future for KPFK and Pacifica through GREATER democracy, greater transparency, accountability and responsiveness to communities of solidarity, resistance and liberation, and join or rejoin KPFK or your local station TODAY.

Urge your friends, family, colleagues, comrades and co-workers to do the same, so that an overwhelming majority can ratify democracy at Pacifica, and use that democratic power to chart a renewed commitment, starting with a resounding NO vote (for the second time in two years) on the effort to replace the decentralized, democratic Bylaws at Pacifica.

Thanks for your attention. I am always willing to talk if you have further questions. And please donate now at KPFK: Donate (wedid.it) and spread the word about this pivotal struggle. Thanks again!

In solidarity,

Michael Novick