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"ProjectCensored" by Project Censored - This image has been downloaded from the website of Project Censored at www.projectcensored.org.. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ProjectCensored.png#/media/File:ProjectCensored.pngLUMPENPROLETARIAT—Free speech radio KPFA is holding its On-Air Forums this week for the 2016 KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) elections, as part of the nationwide Pacifica 2016 Elections.  KPFA’s LSB is a deliberative governing body, like other Pacifica Radio LSBs, tasked with providing checks and balances to the station management hierarchy. [1]

During this on-air forum, candidates were supposed to be given equal access in a formal debate fashion.  During tonight’s broadcast, host Leon Sykes, seemed to do better, in terms of organisation.  Yet, somehow his performance was worse than last night, when he kept insisting on restricting and curtailing the candidates’ and the callers’ participation to under one minute.  His over-emphasis on the time regulations, which were often clumsily handled, often undermined the spirit of the debate.  Sometimes, it’s worth trading off a little leniency on the time constraints when the dialogue is exponentially richer.

Oh, but beyond being stingy with the time during debate rotations last night, when the SaveKPFA candidates would “defer” or “pass” on a question, which they, either, didn’t bother to prepare for or preferred to ignore and downplay, and there was spare time, the host didn’t bother to take advantage of that spare airtime to allow the other candidates to speak.  Instead, our hired host simply ended the entire broadcast over five minutes early, which in radio time is a huge amount of time, and which the candidates who actually had something to say could have utilised to better inform the KPFA listener-members.

Fortunately, tonight, there were some stronger candidates and stronger callers than last night.  And they were demanding that somebody shed some light on the proceedings.  It’s pretty amazing that one of free speech radio’s most popular shows is literally called Democracy Now!.  (Notice that the title is a demand.)  Yet, the same audiences who understand the need for a truly democratic society, and who are fans of economist Dr. Richard Wolff and his advocacy for democracy in the workplace, allow certain people at KPFA to treat KPFA’s LSB elections as marginal.  KPFA listeners, as evidenced by the callers, have been left in the dark about the important history of KPFA and of its internal factions, some who have done very un-KPFA-like things in the past, but are still at KPFA working to monopolise free speech radio and block independent voices and grassroots activists from participating.

As we commented yesterday, what was missing from the first LSB Candidate Forum broadcast was a sense of context or historical background to how KPFA and the Pacifica Radio Network came to have a democratic governance structure and why it is so important.  KPFA listeners deserve to be treated with respect and provided with that crucial information.  You’ll notice the dramatic difference in the level of sincerity when the KPFA/Pacifica history is presented by the SaveKPFA side, which usually employs SaveKPFA partisan Matthew Lasar, or by others, such as Project Censored.

Callers were explicitly asking for historical context and for differentiation between the two political factions thus far represented:  SaveKPFA and Independents United for Community Radio.  Another caller, who many of us who have been part of the KPFA extended family for many years may recognise as, Virginia Browning challenged SaveKPFA’s illegitimate usage of the name SaveKPFA for their slate.  Indeed, the SaveKPFA faction has been caught engaging in various types of politricks and dirty dealings, such that they’ve had to change their slate name various times over the years.  Years ago, they called themselves “Concerned Listeners” (even though this political grouping was led by entrenched staffers) and before that “KPFA Forward“, if memory serves me.

If you’re a free speech radio KPFA listener, and you’ve received a ballot to vote for this next round of candidates to KPFA’s governance board, know that the SaveKPFA slate is toxic to KPFA/Pacifica’s principles of socioeconomic justice, which are enshrined in its Mission Statement, because they represent a clique of people, who have historically associated themselves as Wellstone Democrat partisans with associated moneyed interests, and have attempted to run roughshod over anyone to the left of their centrist circle at KPFA, or anybody who comes to free speech radio with any degree of sincerity and curiosity about the wizards of oz behind the green curtain. [2]  Listen (and/or download) here. [3]



[KPFA archive page programme summary.  Yep, that’s all the information listeners were given.  It kind of shows how little certain people at KPFA think of having a democratic governance structure.]

KPFA—[7 SEP 2016]  Tune in to 94.1 FM or hear it live on kpfa.org or listen later on the archives.  Listeners may call in 510-848-4425, or 800-958-9008 with questions.

Learn more at KPFA.


[Working draft transcript of actual radio broadcast by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and KPFA Radio.]

KPFA—[7 SEP 2016]  “Good evening.  I’m your moderator, Leon Sykes.  You are tuned in to Day Two of our three-day Local Candidate Forums for 2016.  We are currently holding two separate parallel elections for delegates to the KPFA Local Station Board.  Listener members will vote for listener candidates.  Staff members will vote for staff candidates.  There are nine vacant listener and three vacant staff seats on the KPFA Local Station Board.  More information can be found at Elections.Pacifica.org.  Ballots must be received by the ballot company, TrueBallot, by September 30th.  Please note:  That is not ‘postmarked by’, but received by TrueBallot by September 30th.  Online voting will end at 8:59 pm Pacific Standard Time on September 30th.

“If you have not received your ballot, please email les-kpfa2016@pacifica.org or call 510.848-6767 extension 605.

“If you’ve lost, damaged, or misplaced your ballot and need a replacement, please email les-kpfa2016@pacifica.org or call 510.848-6767, extension 605.  Please let us know whether you would like a paper ballot printed and mailed to you, or whether you are fine with receiving an email with your secure PIN for voting online.

“Candidates were asked to submit up to 500 words when turning in their ballot nomination paperwork.  They were also invited to submit up to 200 words as well as complete a candidate questionnaire, which was optional.  [sniffs]

“Those questions—those answers can all be found online at Elections.Pacifica.org.  In particular, please click on the KPFA candidates’ statements link, Elections.Pacifica.org/wordpress/kpfa-candidates.  (c. 2:11)

“If you would like a candidate pamphlet printed and mailed to you, we need to receive your request by September 12th [2016].  Please email les-kpfa2016@pacifica.org or call 510.848-6767, extension 605.  Please note:  Candidate pamphlets only include the 200-word statements.

“Now, we will introduce our candidates and get an opening remark up to two minutes from each candidate.  There is more information available at Elections.Pacifica.org.

“Now, we will be introducing our candidates.  Each candidate will have up to two minutes for an opening statement.  I will be starting off with [a SaveKPFA candidate, like I did last night, but this time it’s] Craig Williams.”  (c. 2:51)

CRAIG WILLIAMS [SaveKPFA slate]:  “Hi, my name is Craig Williams.  And I’m a candidate with the SaveKPFA slate.  (c. 2:58)  [SNIP]

[Four ideas on how to increase listenership]  [4]  (c. 4:50)

LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “Thank you.  Next we have Aki Tanaka.”  (c. 4:55)


Akio Tanaka (United for Community Radio slate; Green Party)

AKIO TANAKA [United for Community slate]:  “Uh, my name is Aki Tanaka.  And I’m running with the Community for[laughs]—United for Community Radio team.  And I’m a retired engineer.  And I have been County Counselor for the Green Party.  And, also, I served on the KPFA Board for six years.  And significant is that both organisations do not take corporate money.

“Second of all, where corporations own the media and control both political parties, the voice of KPFA and Pacifica is more crucial than ever.  We need to preserve the network for the younger generations.

“But, first, we must end the internecine battle within KPFA.  We should acknowledge that the current financial crisis was over, sort of, of our own making.  Between 2000 and 2005, we more than doubled the payroll.  And, then, there was the financial crash thing; and we were caught off guard.  And we’re still, you know, paying the price for that situation of the boom-and-bust.

“And, uh [pause], the staff and the management have to resolve the gap between the income and the expense, as difficult as that might be.

“Then, over the past five years, under the SaveKPFA [faction], we’ve been in a situation where in 2013, -14, and -15, we lost CPB funding.  And, then, also, you know, the General Manager is saying that we are in dire straits; we couldn’t continue operation.

“So, I think it’s time to change the direction and we cannot take any corporate funding.  But let’s not break up the [Pacifica Radio] Network for short-term gain.

“Please vote for me, Aki Tanaka and the rest of the United for Community Radio team.  Thank you.”  (c. 6:53)

carol-e1469128105702-300x300LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “Thank you.  [clears throat]  Next, we’ll have Carol Wolfley.”  (c. 6:58)

CAROL WOLFLEY [United for Community slate]:  “Thank you, Leon.  And hello, listeners.  I’m Carol Wolfley.  I’m a retired teacher, a California mediator, a union negotiator, a permaculture and media activist.

“As KPFA and the world are at great risk, we need to develop our precious media resources as powerful alternatives to corporate media monopolies, that deny, distract, and disparage.  I want brave journalists, visionary writers, and multimedia activists to bring us accurate and timely news.

“As a member of KPFA’s Community Advisory Board, I’ve gathered input from thousands of listeners from San Jose to Sebastopol and beyond.  And I advocate for coverage of the issues, that you care about, like the struggles against high-profit development projects and covering protests against police murders of people of colour, and inspiring activists in Puerto Rico, in Haiti, North Dakota, and here.  I want to bring the community back into KPFA by organising a massive membership drive and re-opening our volunteer phone room.  And let’s bring KPFA.org into the global media revolution using social media, news segments, live streaming of events, and podcasts of diverse music and culture to help us connect with youth and community organisations.

“We, especially, need more posting of your events on KPFA.org’s Community Calendar.  Please, help us protect community media by voting for me, Carol Wolfley, and the United for Community Radio candidates.

“Y también quieremos amplificar la programación en español con—”  (c. 9:04)

LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “Carol, we’re out of time.”

CAROL WOLFLEY [United for Community slate]:  “—Unidos.”

LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “Thank you very much.  Now, we will be moving on to a a series of five questions we have from the moderators. [5]  And we will be opening our phone lines up for listeners.  Please call in at 1.800.958-9008.  We’ll be getting into the call-ins a little later.  Once again, if you have any questions, please call in to 1.800.958-9008.

“And, please remember, we need you to ask only one question, please, one direct question. [clears throat] [6]

“So, now, we are going to start.  Each candidate will be given one minute to answer.  Our first question is:

“The Local Station Board reviews and approves the station’s budget and makes quarterly reports to the Foundation’s board of directors regarding the station’s budget, actual income, and expenditures.  How will you help the LSB carry out this responsibility?”  (c. 10:04)  [SNIP]


LEON SYKES [moderator]:  ” [pending] ”  (c. 32:09)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER:  “I’m fine.  I’m on.  And I would like to know what is the difference between the two slates:  SaveKPFA and United for Community Radio.  I’d like the candidates to talk about why they are on the slate, that they have chosen and, also, does your slate have a website where we could get more information about your platform and so on?”

LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “So, we have to keep it to one question.  So, you wanna know why they’re on that slate, that they chose.  Correct? [7]”

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER:  “Um—uh—what, what are the differences between the two slates?”

LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “Okay.  Thank you very much.  Uh, we’ll start off with [Independents candidate] Aki Tanaka.”  (c. 32:55)

AKIO TANAKA [United for Community slate]:  “Well, I think the reason I am running with Independents for Community Radio is that I think that it’s very crucial that we stay as a [radio] network, that just because we’re having a financial problem in one area, that we sacrifice the network just, you know, for the interest of some local needs.

“And, so, I am, sort of, of the belief that the Pacifica Network is crucial to our country, that it’s not just crucial to our local area.  And I think that is the difference between us and SaveKPFA.”  (c. 33:.34)

LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “Okay.  Uh, Craig?” [8]

CRAIG WILLIAMS [SaveKPFA candidate]:  “Um, well, I became involved in SaveKPFA when [the SaveKPFA faction radio show] The Morning Show was taken off the air, which was, to a lot of people, a very asinine decision. [9]  It was our best show, in terms of fundraising.  It was probably our most popular show. [10]  And it was just a devastating decision.

“But what’s happening right now is that the two factions, that exist are starting to work a lot more together.  There’s a thing called the Pacifica Unity Pledge. [11]  And I think this is the solution for the future, that we’ve worked out our differences and, you know, move forward.”  (c. 34:19)

LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “Thank you.  Carol?”  (c. 34:22)

CAROL WOLFLEY [United for Community slate]:  “Um, thank you, Mara, for the question. [12]  Um, my feeling is that United for Community Radio members of the slate, and all the people working in it, are very community-oriented, in organisations in the community, wanting more activist radio, wanting more people from the communities on the radio submitting podcasts, submitting information, opening it up, keeping the phone room open, and our website is UnitedforCommunityRadio.org and our Facebook is United for Community | Facebook.

“And you can see lots of independent media people posting on our Facebook, sharing media.”  (c. 35:13)

LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “Thank you.  Once again, I wanna urge listeners to call in:  1.800.958-9008.  Once again, 1.800.958-9008.

“Let’s take our next call, please.  Hello, caller?”


LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “How’s it goin’?”

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #2:  “Fine.  Thank you.  Yes, I would like to follow up on the very last question, that we heard the answers to.  Could you give us a little history of how these two slate organisations came to exist?  What’s the background of it?  I still don’t quite understand how to choose between the two slates of candidates.”

LEON SYKES [moderator]:  “Alright.  Thank you.  Um, we’ll start off with Carol?” (c. 36:05)

CAROL WOLFLEY [United for Community slate]:  “Um, well, I can say that, looking at the history, I mean I know some of the endorsers, if you go to the website, you can see some of the UCR endorsers.  And there are people, like Davey D, Dennis Bernstein, Peter Phillips, um, Mickey Huff, Bonnie Faulkner.

“So, these are people out in the community, doing a lot of community activities and working and building—Andres Soto.  [brief pause]  Thanks.  [brief pause] (Is that?  Oh, I have some more time?  Sorry.)

“So, the history, you know, public radio is different from community radio.  And I think we’re more community radio-oriented and have been.  And I think that public radio is a little more NPR-type.  And I think, you know, we wanna stay away from that.”  (c. 37:06)


[SNIP]  (c. 59:59)

Learn more at KPFA.

[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints, and/or demand or resources, allow.]


[1]  The more authoritarian types, such as the SaveKPFA partisans, attempt to curtail the scope and authority of the LSB.  And you hear this in the rhetoric of the SaveKPFA candidates, as during this evening’s broadcast.  And the more sincere types, virtually all of the non-SaveKPFA candidates and partisans, understand the important role the LSB plays in the cyclical operations of KPFA.  Such candidates do not wish to shrink it down to a size, which can be flushed down a toilet bowl.

One non-SaveKPFA candidate during last night’s forum pointed out that much of the “financial crisis”, which KPFA and Pacifica currently find themselves in is due to certain people at KPFA simply not filing the necessary documents needed to stay in good standing with their Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) funding stipulations.  This apparent sabotage of KPFA sounds typical of the SaveKPFA partisans at KPFA and on KPFA’s Local Station Board.

Factional struggles aside, KPFA, and its spin-off Pacifica Radio Network, provides probably the world’s only example of democratic free speech radio with democratic governance.  This democratic governance structure was hard won through listener resistance in the late 1990s to the top-down management style of the Pacifica National Board executives, who were bent on, either, NPR-ising KPFA/Pacifica or selling it off.  But, instead, that all-powerful form of governance, where elite executives could unilaterally decide the fate of KPFA/Pacifica Radio, was replaced by a National Pacifica Board comprised of representatives from each Pacifica station’s Local Station Board.  But some within KPFA didn’t like that.  So, the struggle between opposing viewpoints continues.  And you could see it in this LSB Candidate Forum.  The SaveKPFA faction, including the accountant-type candidate, promote austerity politics being imposed on KPFA and view the Pacifica Radio Network of stations throughout the country as a drag and dead weight to be cut off, rather than an invaluable asset, which needs to be saved and expanded.

[2]  We will have to provide some historical context here, as time constraints allow.

[3]  Terrestrial radio broadcast, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA) with online simulcast and digital archiving:  Special Programming, this one-hour broadcast hosted by Leon Sykes, Tuesday, 7 SEP 2016, 19:00 PDT.

[4]  It would be funny, if it weren’t so painful to hear this newcomer to the KPFA LSB scene go on with his “strategy for expanding KPFA listenership”.

[5]  “[…] from the moderators”?  What?  Isn’t he, Leon Sykes, the moderator?  Here, the host mysteriously defers responsibility for the character and nature of the question prompts.  But who wrote these decontextualising and sterile questions, which avoid the much more interesting and crucial questions.

[6]  Your humble author considers myself a pacifist.  He meditates and works to live mindfully.  But Leon Sykes, here, is just being a douche, dimishing the openness of the dialogue.  Who cares if a caller asks a multi-part question, as long as the air time is kept fair across the candidates, and the candidate does her, or his, best to respond to the caller’s questions?

I’ve been listening to free speech radio for decades now, and calling in from time to time over many years now.  And, sometimes, usually the less radical, the less open-minded, radio hosts would try to manipulate, twist, manage, and control my comments and those of other callers.  Often, such radio hosts, take the attitude, like Mr. Sykes here, that callers should only call with a question, as if this were Jeopardy.  Often, I would make a comment designed to give listeners some context, and then pose my challenging question.  But, when certain broadcasters are taken to task, they don’t like that.  So, they try intimidate, dominate, and wield their authority over listeners and try to stifle free speech and dissent against the moneyed interests at KPFA, such as the SaveKPFA slate, the only slate, which doesn’t sweat spending tens of thousands of dollars sending out professional-looking campaign propaganda mailers.

[7]  Your humble author considers myself a pacifist.  He meditates and works to live mindfully.  But his response to Leon Sykes, here, is:  What a douche bag!  It seems Mr. Sykes is a SaveKPFA partisan, who is running out the clock when he does stuff like this.  And it’s bad radio.  First of all, the caller had already asked her question.  And who cares if it’s a multi-part question?  It seems like he’s just giving any caller, who is critical, a hard time to discourage critical thinking around the KPFA LSB Elections.  It just seems like Mr. Sykes is trying to run out the clock, so that the SaveKPFA candidates will have less time on the hot seat, risking callers challenging them on air.  This sort of thing just seems anti-democratic.  And it happened throughout the first and second broadcasts.  It’s an injustice to KPFA listeners and to the spirit and mission of KPFA and its spin-off, the Pacifica Radio Network.

[8]  Notably, host Leon Sykes seems to be on a first-name basis with SaveKPFA candidates, unlike with the Independents United for Community Radio candidates.  Mr. Sykes’ more casual rapport with “Craig” seems consistent with Mr. Sykes overall performance, which seems subtly slanted in favour of the SaveKPFA faction.  Usually, the SaveKPFA faction has more clout within the station and is able to determine many aspects of KPFA Board election processes, including who will host the On-Air Forums, which questions will be asked, and the terms of the proceedings.

[9]  This SaveKPFA candidate reveals their primary concern, which is controlling programming.  Indeed, this is an important consideration for everyone involved because KPFA can continue to open its airwaves to radical voices of dissent, or it can begin to water down its perspectives by opting for an NPR-lite bastardisation of its historically radical radio character.  But the SaveKPFA faction has usually opposed anyone to the political left of their Wellstone Democrat center-left position.

But it’s important to note how SaveKPFA is just as interested in the future of KPFA’s (and Pacifica’s) programming.  They may try to be coy, like the current chair Carole Travis (or the past one Margy Wilkinson, if memory serves me) and play innocent, as if they’re simply trying to protect the station and its finances, when they always have Macchiavellian ulterior motives.  (For example, consider some of your author’s past experiences with attempting to participate at KPFA.)

[10]  Right-wing radio is super “popular”, too.  But that doesn’t mean KPFA should start having a right-wing morning show.  The Morning Show was replaced by a collective of volunteers due to a paid staff restructuring, if memory serves me.  That volunteer collective was called The Morning Mix, which was also very popular and provided a diversity of perspectives throughout the week.  But, then, the SaveKPFA faction was able to wrest control away from The Morning Mix and replace it with Brian Edwards-Tiekert and the SaveKPFA faction’s UpFront, followed by SaveKPFA ally Sonali Kolhatgar’s Los Angeles-based Uprising, which is now called Rising Up with Sonali.

[11]  Pacifica Unity Pledge 2015:

Pacifica Radio has a storied reputation as the nation’s largest progressive radio network. Over the years it has reached millions of listeners with hard-hitting reporting, community voices, critical analysis, cutting edge arts, culture and music. Many consider it the most valuable progressive media asset in this country: the broadcast licenses it holds have the potential to reach tens of millions of people.

Yet Pacifica is in a crisis that threatens its very existence: years of bitter infighting and unstable leadership have paralyzed programming innovation and the move to emerging platforms; they have decimated our network’s finances, lost us millions in public funding, and brought down scrutiny from the California Attorney General, who has the power to place the network in receivership.

This Spring, a group of staff and listeners from opposite sides of the factional divide at Pacifica’s Northern California station, KPFA, began meeting to discuss the nature of Pacifica’s crisis, and how to get out of it. Although we have not resolved many of our differences, with some surprise and real gratification we have found ourselves able to talk productively about the problems and seriously consider major structural changes.

We now believe the current governance structure of Pacifica shares much of the blame for our crisis. Pacifica’s current bylaws were created in reaction to a takeover by an unaccountable board, and intended to prevent such a takeover from happening again. But the complexities created as safeguards have created their own problems. The current setup has proven ineffective at advancing Pacifica’s mission; it is costly and acrimonious; and it tends to devolve into warring factions more inclined to blame each other for problems than to work together on solutions.

There is very limited time to change course–less than a year before California’s Attorney General could intervene. In that year, we are calling for a network-wide consensus-building process with the goal of overhauling our network’s bylaws and governance system to advance sound fiscal management and the production of mission-driven programming.

We have ideas, but not a specific proposal: that must come from a larger and more inclusive group than us. But we are calling on everyone in Pacifica to join in, and are proposing that all of us as active members of Pacifica, and in particular people or slates running in the upcoming board elections formally endorse the Unity Pledge.

Pacifica Unity Pledge

I am committed to participating
in a network-wide consensus-building
process with the goal of reforming
Pacifica’s governance to make it simpler,
effective, smaller, and calmer.

Sign The Pledge

Here is an explanation of these principles:

Simpler. The rules we operate by should be simple enough that members, boards and staff can understand them without a major commitment of time or recourse to lawyers, so they can focus their energy on the business of re-building our radio stations;

Effective. Our structure needs to clearly establish and delineate authority, so that there are clear lines of responsibility and accountability;

Smaller. Smaller boards are less inclined to factionalize, less expensive to convene and support, and more conducive to effective problem solving;

Calmer. Overall, we need to explore decision-making processes and voting methods that will promote stability, deescalate conflict, and lead to creative solutions rather than narrow victories.

This Pacifica Crisis Statement and proposed pledge was prepared and agreed to after a series of discussions this spring involving Aileen Alfandary, Virginia Browning, Susan da Silva, Peter Franck, Adrienne Lauby, Nicole Milner, Lewis Sawyer, Sally Sommer, Carol Spooner, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Carole Travis, & Margy Wilkinson.

[12]  Notably, this apparently female caller was never identified.  But, apparently, Carole Wolfley is referring to longtime KPFA, and KPFA LSB, supporter Mara Rivera.  Your author recognised most of the speakers’ voices (by recognising their voice tones, timbres, and personalities).  But your author did not, initially, recognise Mara Rivera’s voice.  So, it is possible that this is a different “Mara”.

(Your author also ran for the KPFA LSB back in 2010, alongside Dr. Sureya Sayadi and SF Bay Area Labour Journalist Steve Zeltzer, who currently hosts the labour radio show WorkWeek on KPFA.  If there were any justice at KPFA, they’d make all that past information, past candidate statements, past On-Air LSB Candidate Forums easily accessible online.  Then listeners wouldn’t be so in the dark about who is who and who has done what and whose corrupt union has decertified the Unpaid Staff Organization, and who has sued who, and who has threatened who with violence, arbitrarily called the police on listeners and volunteers at KPFA, and so forth.  Listeners would find that the SaveKPFA now, and in the past, has been a corrupt bunch of partisans connected to the Democratic Party and other moneyed interests.)


[8 SEP 2016]

[Last modified  01:43 PDT  10 SEP 2016]