01 July 2013

KPFK and Pacifica governance (mostly local L.A. concern)

A friend of mine, Sue Cohen Johnson, is an activist and volunteer at Los Angeles's premier public radio station, KPFK, Los Angeles. KPFK is decidedly not an NPR station, but rather is the preeminent station in the Pacifica Network. It isn't the original original Pacifica station (KPFA is) but is unquestionably preeminent because WBAI and KPFA (Berkeley) are so fractionated and ill-managed that they fail in their mission where KPFK, sometimes with great difficulty, does manage to fulfill it to a large extent.

But there are problems. KPFK's revenue from its lease of "side channels" (and other funds) go to the national Pacifica management, which tries to control local decision making even though they are rather obviously unqualified, and illegitimate, to do so. It is unclear to me even what benefit the national network provides to the local station at all. KPFK is also burdened with a legacy of undesirable financial arrangements (including a relationship with one of the worst Big Banks, B of A), and governance problems.

As yet, there doesn't seem to be a cohesive reform movement, but the beginnings of one are apparent. Local control (both of policy and finances), streamlined and local democratic policy making, environmentally and socially conscientious action and finance; these are the key issues.

I want to go on record as supporting fundamental reform at KPFK, and for effective financial and policy independence for the station. Exactly what that would look like is still somewhat inchoate, but it's clear that change is needed, and it's a-brewin'. 

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