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Los Angeles Times: DONORS PICKET PACIFICA OVER UNSETTLED SUITS

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 members.

"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 stations nationwide.

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