LUMPENPROLETARIAT—GONZO: Like many free speech radio KPFA listeners, such as Jim Weber, who are finally motivated to going from being passive listeners to active, civically-engaged people, who are inspired to channel their civic energies, say, into participating in some capacity at KPFA and the Pacifica Radio Network, your author was stunned back in 2007 when he attended his first KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) meeting, which was held in San Jose in a thinly attended hall.
Like Jim Weber, who went on to run for the LSB, I, too, bore witness to a bitterly divided LSB. For some reason, we had expected to find a supportive, nurturing, and welcoming activist community, which would reflect all of the egalitarian ideals and pacifist-anarchist principles valued on KPFA. It was a nice dream. And, like Jim, I witnessed certain LSB members totally lose their cool, such as LSB member Richard Phelps. And I saw the human forms of voices he had come to appreciate during KPFA broadcasts, such as Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Bonnie Simmons. They didn’t seem to be losing their cool, like Richard Phelps did. The Concerned Listener faction seemed to be the more level-headed one.
I happened to attend that LSB meeting solo. And, like Jim Weber, I, too, was courted by the Concerned Listeners faction. But I also kept an open mind and worked to empathise with this person named Richard Phelps at that KPFA LSB meeting in San Jose and tried to understand what would make him so upset. I asked him about it. And the best Richard Phelp’s frustrated temperament could do was hand me some flyers with some information from his People’s Radio faction, which would start me on an off-and-on process of discovery over the years since then, the details of which have been documented on various websites, including IndyBay, but which deserve to be more thoroughly and coherently documented to expose the reality behind the various voices and factions on the nation’s most progressive radio network.
One major difference between Jim Weber and your author, despite both being free speech radio listeners moved to civic engagement by Pacifica Radio’s eye-opening and consciousness-raising broadcasts, is that I was not successfully seduced by KPFA insiders, such as Bonnie Simmons, Sasha Lilley, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, and then-KPFA station manager Lemlem Rijio. Your author was embraced in a warm hug by Bonnie Simmons, who took his phone number when he mentioned that he had called in to a Managers Report to the Listeners broadcast on KPFA and been encouraged live on-air to volunteer and participate at KPFA by Lemlem Rijio. I spoke to all sides of the LSB divide that first day and felt I had made new friends in Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Bonnie Simmons, and the rest of the Concerned Listeners faction.
As they piled in to a small hatchback car, I stayed behind with the remaining disparate LSB members. I was invited with them to get some food at Johnny Rocket’s nearby. I remember Noelle Hanrahan was there, of whom I was an admirer from her work with Flashpoints and recording and broadcasting commentaries from Mumia Abu Jamal. I remember Chandra Hauptman was there, and Joe Wanzala, if memory serves me. I think Bob English was there, too. They seemed much less interested in my newbie presence than the Concerned Listeners; but this group seemed more sincere somehow.
Slowly, the divide behind the scenes at KPFA started to come into focus. At one point, I sang praises of Sasha Lilley because I appreciated how she discussed Marxian, socialist, and communist topics, which I’d never heard before on the radio, TV, or any public broadcast. But Noelle Hanrahan seemed to wrinkle her nose in disapproval. It was complicated; but on the day Sasha Lilley smeared me and attempted to character assassinate me, for attempting to volunteer as an Assistant LSB Elections Supervisor, then I knew.
But Jim Weber didn’t seem to ask enough questions to learn about the underhanded and evil tactics of power and control exercised by the Concerned Listeners faction because he, either, never became aware of them or he thought the ends justified the means because he came to agree with their Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club ideology. In any event, Weber arrived at the complete opposite conclusion I did. But, one thing is clear, the only way Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Sasha Lilley, and the rest of the Concerned Listeners faction have been able to retain even a shred of credibility is because the dynamics behind the scenes of free speech radio have not been coherently brought to light. It’s time for that to change.
Below is Jim Weber’s account of KPFA politics behind the scenes, which is interesting and almost makes sense, except that he has cast the wrong figures as protagonists and antagonists. Any serious observers and scholars of free speech radio know that the Concerned Listeners have been the anti-democratic faction within KPFA. Like Amy Goodman, at WBAI, they never believed in a democratic governance structure for the Pacifica Radio Network.
What’s also very notable about Weber’s public comment published at The Berkeley Daily Planet is how vague it is. That vagueness exemplifies much of the propaganda, which comes out of the Concerned Listeners faction. If there were sincere radio broadcasts, which discussed the power struggles within KPFA and allowed for honest and frank debate, there would be no way for the Concerned Listeners faction to maintain any meaningful credibility because their behavior behind the scenes contradicts all of the values, which have made KPFA and Pacifica Radio Network a beacon for progressive activism and civic engagement.
The current attack on KPFA, WBAI, and Pacifica by revolutionary fascists in NYC, where they originated, and by their members who came to Berkeley in the 1960s, originally to recruit young college students at UC Berkeley, and after the Civil Rights Movement ended they were less involved in recruiting students, and they turned their attention to KPFA in Berkeley and to WBAI in New York City, as desirable targets to promote their global violent anti-democratic revolution. Over the decades that followed they had minor successes at influencing or invading these stations. Some of their members became active inside the stations as volunteers, or even as employees, and one was even successful at becoming the KPFA General Manager for a short while. However, although they attempted to do some damage to KPFA and WBAI for many years since the 1960s, they did little damage to the stations until 2003.
Both KPFA and WBAI remained uncorrupted progressive stations until a court order, after the 1999 attack, that all KPFA-Pacifica stations should have Local Station Boards to create a more democratic relationship between the stations and the listeners. The Judge who made this order was well intentioned, but she didn’t realize how the new station Boards could be used to harm WBAI and KPFA. Many welcomed the idea of a closer, more democratic, relationship between listeners and the station. However, the Berkeley fascists saw these new LSBs as their opportunity to gain control over KPFA, WBAI, and the Pacifica network. All these fascists had to do to get elected to the new LSBs in Berkeley and New York was to lie to the listener-voters about who they were and what their intentions were.
During the first LSB election in 2003, the original fascist organization in New York was larger, over 9,000 members, and was better organized and was instantly more able to dominate and control the WBAI Board, and they turned the WBAI station over to a group of violent thugs who managed WBAI with fear, threats and violence.
In Berkeley, with their smaller less organized fascist membership they had less success to harm KPFA. But although the KPFA board had a minority of democracy-hating fascist Board members, this smaller group of haters on the Berkeley LSB were not able to harm the station, but were able to successfully cripple this board and prevent the pro-democracy majority from functioning democratically for the first three years. The KPFA board meetings were reduced to hate-speech, fear, threats, intimidation, and finally to physical violence at board meetings. After the first couple of board meetings in 2004, the original large, but confused, audience of listeners and station staff stopped attending these hate-meetings, and they still haven’t returned.
It wasn’t until 2007, when a group of honest KPFA listeners, called “Concerned Listeners” had organized to successfully replace the original fascist-corrupted board, resulting in KPFA’s first democratically functioning board.
The frustrated Berkeley fascists who lost control were furious, and they immediately started a hate campaign to take back their power to corrupt the KPFA Board. They held fake KPFA meetings to demonize the Concerned Listeners, where very few actual real listeners attended. They tried again later to hold two fake “KPFA-Crisis” meetings to again demonize the Concerned Listeners, but these meetings also failed to attract listeners. At future LSB elections they split up their single, easy-to-identify fascist organization into several smaller fascist organizations, pretending to be progressive organizations, but even that deceit didn’t work to get fascists back on the board during 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Now at this 2009 LSB election they are using every trick possible to regain control over the KPFA Board. The Election Supervisors are totally controlled by the fascists, and were present, on the stage, at the fake “KPFA-CRISIS meetings. The fake “Forums” they organized for today’s “listeners to meet the LSB Candidates” events were deliberately designed to prevent any useful communications between the candidates and the listeners, to help listeners make voting choices. But these fake meetings were an excellent and deliberate opportunity for the fascists to pretend that they were honest progressive candidates.
The ballots that the listener-voters use to vote have now been re-designed to make any verification of any stolen ballots impossible. And although after the last two elections where stolen ballots were not available to be stolen, this election has great potential for stolen ballots being introduced into the final vote-counting process—unless observer-volunteers at the vote-counting event participate in watching for multiple ballots with obviously duplicated choices by fascists who want to steal this election.
There will be, as usual, anti-KPFA fascists at the final vote count who are expected to introduce stolen ballots into the
count, and the election supervisors will do nothing to stop it. But real listener-observers have a right to assure an honest election by insisting that those involved in the vote count have no back-packs or luggage with them inside the vote count area that can contain piles of stolen Ballots to include in the final vote count. And the usual lack of security of the ballot box at the station needs to be controlled by a third party, besides the election supervisors, who seem controlled by the Berkeley fascists.
Additional deceitful tactics used by the Berkeley fascists includes approaching honest progressive community leaders to endorse the candidacy of these fascists who want to re-take control over the KPFA-LSB. They have also seduced the honest progressive publishers of the Bay View newspaper to publish articles demonizing KPFA management.
Demonizing is a powerful tool used by all bullies everywhere to control people with fear. Every war that America has been involved in, since the American Revolution, has been made possible by first demonization an “enemy” to frighten Americans into surrendering their young sons lives to die on foreign battlefields. The Secretary of State lying to President Truman started the bloody Korean War. The Viet Nam war was started by a lie about an attack on an American vessel. The recent two mid-east Arab wars were made possible by the demonizing lie that Arabs had crashed planes into the World Trade towers. The real truth is on the web.
Hitler, the world’s greatest demonizer, demonized the Jews, killed them, and then said to the German people, “See, I have saved you from these evil people!” Today the Berkeley fascists demonize the Concerned Listeners with the lie that they are harming KPFA, using their usual hate-speech without saying how they are harming KPFA. The undefined “harm” is that the CLers took the damaged LSB away from the democracy-hating fascists who really want to harm KPFA. Beware of any fascist warnings against evil because they are the evil that we need protection from.
Jim Weber has been involved in KPFA politics for decades.
Lear more at THE BERKELEY DAILY PLANET.
[14 SEP 2016]
[Last modified 14:57 PDT 25 OCT 2016]