Friday, November 9, 2001
Donors Picket Pacifica Over Unsettled Suits
By STEVE CARNEY, Special to The Times
WASHINGTON--A group of donors picketed the North Hollywood
studios of KPFK-FM (90.7) on Thursday and pledged to withhold their
usual contributions until the station's parent--the liberal Pacifica
Foundation--settles lawsuits with disgruntled listeners and board
"They think their funds are going to the destruction of the
station, not rebuilding it," said Farah Davari of Los Angeles, one
of the organizers of Thursday's protest by donors who say they will
no longer donate the tens of thousands of dollars to the station
that they have in the past. For more than two years, internal
strife has torn apart Pacifica, which operates KPFK and five other
Staff and programming changes, particularly at the stations in
Berkeley and New York, have enraged some supporters, who claim that
Pacifica's management and board of directors are trying to steer the
network toward the mainstream. They filed lawsuits alleging that
Pacifica officials were squandering money and ignoring input from
local listener advisory boards.
But in the past few weeks, it looked as if the conflicts were
hurtling toward a resolution, after the sudden resignation of
controversial executive director Bessie Wash, and the announcement
by Pacifica Chairman Bob Farrell that the board of directors would
enter mediation to resolve the lawsuits.
After 12 hours of negotiations Nov. 1, a settlement seemed
imminent. But parties familiar with the negotiations say talks have
broken down, and all parties are headed for a trial in January.
"Our funds are just going to the lawyers and security measures
designed to thwart the desires of the listeners," said attorney Jan
Goodman, one of Thursday's protesters.
Last summer, she and her husband, Jerry Manpearl, held a
fund-raiser at their Santa Monica home featuring singer Dar
Williams. The event raised $20,000 for the dissident Pacifica
Campaign, money that otherwise "all would have gone to Pacifica."
On Thursday, while a half-dozen protesters picketed the station,
Goodman, Manpearl and others tried to meet with KPFK general manager
Mark Schubb. Schubb was unavailable.
"Some of these are major donors, but our pledges come from
literally thousands and thousands of people," Schubb said later. He
added that the station is on pace to break $500,000 in pledges as
its fall fund drive ends tonight.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times