Just prior to the recently concluded KPFK fund drive, a list of
current KPFK staff sent a letter to Amy Goodman regarding her
references to the banned and fired at WBAI. (see the bottom of the
Some ex-KPFK'ers have recently sent letter to Amy in response to
the one from the present staff.
Below is a letter signed by a group of people, as well some
PS This letter was presented to Amy Goodman by Blase Bonpane,
last night (June 10th, 2001) in Los Angeles at a National Lawyers
Guild dinner when Amy received an award and standing ovation from
An open letter to Amy Goodman from KPFK's
FIRED, BANNED, or DRIVEN OUT:
We have seen the recent letter sent to you by the programmers of
KPFK, i.e., those who have benefited from the removal, firing and
banning of, by Mark Schubb's own estimate, over 150 programmers and
staff from KPFK since 1995.
There are a few things you should be aware of when considering
their appeal to you.
First, KPFK is what you describe WBAI as, the studios of the
fired and the banned. However, it is not the studios of its
listeners. Over the past several years KPFK has seen it's
fundraising revenues nearly double. But total subscribership still
remains in the range of 14,000 subscribers, well below its peak of
approximately 16,000 in the eighties, when KPFK made a genuine
effort to be a voice of diverse communities. But money is what
matters now. It is the main measure of success.
This increase in funding has coincided with:
* Elimination of the station folio
* The decimation of the
community calendar (from twice daily to once weekly now)
destruction of the internship program
* The loss of a functioning
local news department, with local news replaced by a third daily
airing of the ever more tepid Pacifica Network News
* The removal
of all programmers of color from drive-time public affairs
programming, and the reduction of all local public affairs
programming by people of color to fewer than four hours a week
total, in a city in which a majority of people are people of color.
In addition, the station no longer has a program director, a news
director, a development director, or an on-site engineer.
Where is all the money going?
Current programmers have been silent about purges that have taken
place at KPFK since the mid-nineties -- purges of Native- Americans,
African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans and white programmers
who didn't appeal to their desired target market. They do not like
your raising the specter of those purges to their target market.
They comfort themselves with the illusion that they are somehow more
professional in their conduct than those who were displaced to make
room for them, and they want the money to keep flowing in, even
though with every additional dollar that comes in the community
seems to get less and less service, and the audience becomes more
and more a commodity.
Now the public affairs programmers during "peak drive times" --
are all white with one exception: Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who stepped
happily into the 7 PM Tuesday spot vacated when Ron Wilkins was
banned for attempting to notify the listeners of the purging of
African-American and Latino programmers at Pacifica in 1996.
Nearly all the 'diversity' of KPFK's broadcasters comes through
music programming. But more importantly, the range of political
perspective represented by the public affairs programmers signing
this letter is so narrow that only they themselves are likely to
imagine it represents a broad swath of political thought. And of
course, there are no signatures from news broadcasters at KPFK
because there is essentially no functioning local news department at
So yes, they are disturbed that your message to the listeners
about what is being done with their money may be heard. They don't
want the listeners to ask questions about what is being done to
community radio. They want the listeners to buy the product. The
money tells these programmers they are right, and you telling the
truth threatens that money.
We - those programmers and staffers fired, banned, removed, or
driven out of KPFK - thank you for your courage, and urge you to
stand by your principles and speak the truth without fear.
Blase Bonpane, Ph.D.,
Former Senior KPFK Programmer
on the Americas
Fired for no reason
(Message of termination received on his answering
Resurrected by News Director, Frank Stoltz to be News
Commentator. 1996-1998. Went on strike after constant annoyance by
Ken 'Dedon" Carr
1983-1994 programmer and executive producer,
Held positions as chair and vice-chair to the
Local Advisory Board and served on the National Board. Purged so
Pacifica could make way for the more affluent westside
European-American listener at the expense of the Africian Self
Wanda Coleman and Austin Straus Poetry Connexxion 1982 on the air
Bill Davila Approx 15 years from 1981 - 1996 at KPFK, "Journey
Through the Realms of Music" Fired by the General Manager for being
a white-male producer - who was brought back on-air by the support
of listeners and staff who circulated a petition and wrote letters.
Volunteer programmer approx. 8 years, "Read All
About It" At the time the only early morning Chicano programmer. His
program was put on "hold" without discussion or notice.
Former production engineer, union steward and
independent producer from 1988 - Sept 1995 (fired and banned)
Lee Siu Hin
Former KPFK Los Angeles, WBAI New York
Walked away from KPFK in solidarity
with John Martinez in October, 1999
Tuesday Community Calendar
14 year volunteer
purged for exercising free speech outside KPFK December, 1999
13 year volunteer
Producer/Programmer/Staff Purged for, among other reasons, not
confining program to Asians- only (Management insisted on sitting in
studio for my last program so I wouldn't blast KPFK)
Roz & Howard Larman
After almost 31 years at
KPFK, we were cancelled for only the greed of Mark Schubb. If there
was a format change, we could live with the cancellation.
Volunteer programer for the Colectivo
Latinoamericano from 1981 to 1985 and a coordinator for a program
called "Flor Y Canto". The Colectivo Latinoamericano spanish
programming was dismantled by the then KPFK station manager, Susan
Anderson, in 1985
7 Year Volunteer KPFK
Producer/Programmer/Staff Purged for Airing a Half-Hour Documentary
on the Pacifica Crisis October 1999
Islamic Perspectives and newsroom reporter for
KPFK for 5 years January 1995
Long Time Volunteer
1986 - 1994 "Producciones
1994 -1999 "Enfoque Latino"
Cut in the middle
of on air interview and censored for political content
Southern California Federation of Science
years at KPFK, "The Wizard Show"
Was given a time-slot they could
not accept - 8am Sunday morning. This was a science show and they
gave him the gospel hour.
Alternative Media Agency Trade Editions
(AMATE) and a former producer at KPFK
KPFK News volunteer between 1992 and 1999 and, a
contributor to Pacifica Network News from 1993 til 1999. barred from
the station after publishing an article critical of KPFK and
Pacifica. The offending article was published in the "Random
Purged in 1999 after participating in a protest in front
of KPFK in solidarity with the KPFA Free Pacifica Community".
Continent to Continent: An African-Issues Magazine
1983- February 26, 1996
Banned for Speaking on Air about
African-Americans and Latinos being purged from the Station
In memory of Michael Taylor From his friends
Individual Letter from Al Huebnerm former
host of "The Health Department"
An Open Letter to Amy Goodman.
You are to be congratulated for the excellent job you do on
Democracy Now!, a program that is must-listening for me. I'm aware
that you are working under difficult conditions, to say the least. I
hope my words will assure you that your efforts are deeply
I saw a copy of the letter that some current KPFK broadcasters
sent you before the recent fundraising. It was nauseatingly
sanctimonious, self-serving, and worst of all, lacking in concern
for a comrade under attack.
Let me describe my background at KPFK. In 1995, after more than
21 years of doing a program on the politics of science and health,
my program was terminated. I had closed my one-hour broadcast with a
four-minute commentary on the sudden disappearance of the Station
Manager and the Program Director. The LA Times reported in a brief,
easily missed piece that they had been fired, the acting Station
Manager wrote in the program guide's "report to the listener" that
they had resigned. Workers at the most anti-labor corporation are
treated no worse. In my commentary I went on to deplore the fact
that it was chiefly, but not exclusively, the listener- sponsors who
were deceived by the new management. Remarkably, management didn't
seem to see any contradiction between this deplorable behavior and
the concepts of free speech and progressive politics that the
station purports to serve.
As for the other Pacifica stations, I would have no idea of
what's going on at KPFA and WBAI except for reports and commentary
in The Nation, Extra!, Toward Freedom, Censored Alert (Project
Censored), and The Humanist, two of which I write for. Even your
remarks about the banned and the fired, and comments by Michael
Moore and a few other guests, would remain obscure to me had I not
read material from non-Pacifica sources -- that apparently means
sources that can't be censored by Pacifica.
I admire your courage and I hope you win both your near-term and
Below is the letter that the responses above
are in answer to:
To: Amy Goodman
From: The On-Air
Programmers of KPFK
Re: Up-Coming Summer Fund Drive
We're writing to ask for your full, unequivocal support during
our up- coming fund drive. We are concerned that the past four
months you have signed off your show, "Democracy Now," by declaring
that your broadcast had come "from the embattled studios of WBAI --
the studios of the banned and the fired."
We are convinced that for you to continue signing off in this
manner during our up-coming fund drive, would not only be
antithetical to our money raising efforts, but put you squarely in
the camp of those seeking to sabotage those efforts. We ask
therefore, that you stop discussing Pacifica' problems on-air, and
do nothing detrimental to our fund drive.
As a Pacifica veteran, you know that this rule has existed for
decades -- and for good reason. Our listeners support us because we
are a bastion of truth and alternative politics and culture, one of
the few left in a broadcast medium in which almost else operates
under the thumb of a homogenized, monopolistic corporate media. In
this age of George W. Bush, we are, as you yourself regularly put
it, the one "exception to the rulers."
As you are also aware, only the dollars of our listener-sponsors,
the hard work of our tiny, low-paid staff and the goodwill of our
hundreds of unpaid volunteers, enables KPFK -- and we, its
programmers -- to remain on the air. Unlike yourself, many of us are
also unpaid; and devote uncountable hours to KPFK because we
passionately believe in Lou Hill's anti-war vision of social-
justice, and of a radio station answerable to no one other than its
As we're sure you're also aware, your one-hour show, "Democracy
Now," airs twice daily in and around prime drive-time on our
station, and a substantial amount of the money we raise at KPFK goes
to support your show and pay your salary.
That is one big reason why we're convinced it would be
exceedingly harmful for you to do anything less next week than give
our fund- drive your whole-hearted support on-air, and to mention
supporting KPFK by name as our fund-drive unfolds. A full commitment
is needed from all of us, of course, because of our proud refusal to
accept any corporate underwriting; and -- with the exception of a
small grant from the federally funded CPB -- to exist solely on the
funds we receive directly from our listeners.
But there's another reason we expect your full cooperation. For
the past several years now, a small group of dissident picketers
have appeared outside our studio on the first day of our fund drive;
determined to undo our hard work, and our struggle to make KPFK a
relevant force in Southern California. This time, however, this
group is also calling for our listeners to engage in an economic
boycott of our station.
In a letter dated just four days ago, for example, your former
colleague, Juan Gonzalez, sent a letter to many of us literally
urging that we sabotage KPFK's summer fund drive. "Do not work
overtime to find attractive premiums," wrote Gonzalez, "shave off
minutes from your actual time pitching funds[and] privately
encourage listeners who are friends of yours to withhold their
Such calls are new, but not the rumors, lies and distortions that
have already been denounced in a letter signed by 90% of KPFK's
staff about 18 months ago. The biggest of those lies is that we --
the station's programmers -- are being censored by the management of
Although you occupy 10 hours a week on our airways, you're 3,000
miles away in New York, and therefore have no direct knowledge of
what takes place at KPFK. So we'd like to take this opportunity to
set the record straight and ease any doubts you might have on this
issue. Other than the very few occasions of out-right, on-air,
racism and anti-Semitism, and violations of the dirty laundry rule,
management has never once interfered with the content of our shows.
Nor would we tolerate such interference.
Those of us at KPFK fortunate enough to speak for millions of
voiceless people living here in Southern California take our
responsibility very seriously. We feel that to let internecine
politics and power plays interfere with our mission at a time when
all that Pacifica stands for is under great threat, is myopic and
That is why we are taking our up-coming fund drive so seriously,
and are urging you to do the same.
Joe Domanick -- "Beneath the Surface"
Beto Arcos -- "Global Village"
Jon Wiener -- "Beneath the Surface"
Robert Mora -- "The Root"
Marc Cooper -- "The Marc Cooper Show"
Sergio Mielniczenko -- "Global Village"
Susan Weissman, Beneath the Surface
John Retsk, "Car Show"
Jay Kagelman -- "Sound Exchange
Art Gould -- "Car Show"
Barbara Osborn -- "Deadline LA"
John Beaupre -- "Up for Air"
Barry Smolin -- "The Music Never Stops"
Hector Resendez -- "Canto Tropical"
Earl Ofari Hutchinson -- "Tuesday Live"
Simeon Pillich -- "Global Village"