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Pacifica Campaign Update

Pacifica Campaign News Update

September 9, 2001


Dear Supporters of the Pacifica Campaign,

As the summer recedes, the struggle around the future of Pacifica is heating up.

A major showdown is looming as renegade elements on Pacifica's National Board and Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash attempt to unilaterally restack the Board at its proposed Sept 19th telephone meeting. Such an action, in open defiance of the Pacifica listener community, the Pacifica Local Advisory Boards, Pacifica workers, dozens of Pacifica affiliates, and the entire Free Pacifica movement, will constitute a serious escalation of the crisis. It will be the political equivalent of Nixon's bombing of Cambodia. And the Pacifica Campaign, like the anti-war movement in the past, will respond with a vigorous campaign of nationwide protest that will result in the removal of this reckless and unaccountable Pacifica leadership.

The Pacifica Campaign, and Concerned Friends of WBAI, are planning a protest and tour of outrage in Washington DC on Wednesday, September 12th. A demonstration will run from 1pm-5pm outside Pacifica's national headquarter at 2390 Champlain Street, in the Adams Morgan section of Washington DC (near the intersection of Columbia and 18th). If you live in the DC area, please join us. Otherwise call Pacifica National and Pacifica station WPFW on Sep. 12th and demand the resignation of Executive Director Bessie Wash. (Pacifica National at 202-234-7487 or WPFW at 202-588-0999.)

This Day of Action is just one week before the proposed Board meeting by conference call. While there has been a motion filed to compel the Pacifica Board to meet in public, face to face with their critics and with the Foundation's donors, we cannot count on the courts to help us. We must exert maximum pressure and use every Constitutionally-protected means of protest at our disposal. We must stop the Pacifica Board hijackers from illegally stacking the Board with more of their ilk in their attempt to destroy the network. Please join us on September 12th. We will be putting out another e-mail on actions you can take closer to the day.

Democracy Now! News

As you know, the Democracy Now! staff left the studios of Pacifica station WBAI in New York on August 14 after Pacifica management failed to ensure a safe, violence-free workplace at the embattled station. Amy Goodman and the Democracy Now! producers are now broadcasting the program from a safe studio in lower Manhattan. But Pacifica managers refuse to air the program live and, instead, are putting out old, taped shows.

Pacifica station KPFA in Berkeley has defied national management and continue to carry the show locally and have even arranged to distribute Democracy Now! to affiliate stations via satellite. From WMNF in Florida to KGNU in Colorado, Pacifica affiliates are airing the real Democracy Now! And in Los Angeles, revered KPFK programmer Roy of Hollywood has been playing the previous days' Democracy Now! from 5 to 6 AM, just before the station airs the censored archived version of the show.

If you are in one of the four Pacifica listening areas not airing Democracy Now! during its regular time slot, call your local station and ask them to air the program. Call WBAI at 212-209-2800, KPFK in Los Angeles at 818-985-2711, KPFT in Houston at 713-526-4000, and WPFW in Washington DC at 202-234-7487 or 202-588-0999. Thank KPFA in Berkeley for airing the show. Write General Manager Jim Bennett at: 1929 ML King Jr Way, Berkeley CA 94704.

On Wednesday, Aug. 29th, a majority of the Pacifica Board sent a letter instructing Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash to reinstate the Democracy Now! staff with back pay and to allow them to continue broadcasting from their safe, remote facility at Downtown Community Television (DCTV). The six signatories included the five dissident Board members and Valrie Chambers of Houston. We applaud Ms. Chambers for recognizing and acting on the actual threats to physical safety that exist at WBAI under Utrice Leid's management, and we hope that the unwillingness to sign of hardliners on the Board like Ken Ford gives her pause when considering future cooperation with them.

The Pacifica Board majority has been joined by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, actor Danny Glover, and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta. They have all called for Pacifica management to air the program live and direct. Jesse Jackson and Danny Glover were particularly upset that Pacifica was not airing Democracy Now!'s groundbreaking coverage of UN Racism Conference in Durban, South African.

There was a national day of action in defense of Democracy Now! on Tuesday, Aug. 28th. Demonstrations were held in Berkeley, DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Olympia, Washington. Speakers at the various rallies included KPFA radio programmer Dennis Bernstein in Berkeley and David Adelson, Los Angeles LAB member and litigant in one of the Pacifica lawsuits. Also, the Committee for Democracy in Mexico spoke in Los Angeles, while the Disabled Veterans Association of California delivered a letter of protest to KPFK. In New York, home of Democracy Now!, a speech by Amy Goodman highlighted a morning rally attended by listeners and community leaders from throughout the region.

Since Democracy Now! staff were suspended without pay and involved in protracted negotiations with Pacifica management, we at the Pacifica Campaign were concerned that the staff's union, AFTRA, did not take seriously the genuine safety threats that exist at WBAI in NYC. Our campaign to educate AFTRA's executives worked: on Friday, August 24th, AFTRA prominently posted a strongly-worded statement on their website, declaring WBAI unsafe for Democracy Now! staff. (See

The Position of AFTRA

AFTRA's new national President, John Connolly, reiterated that stance when he spoke on Sunday, Aug. 26th at a Pacifica Campaign fundraiser in LA. We are glad to see AFTRA doing the right thing. (The matter of AFTRA's involvement in the attempt to replace the hard-won United Electrical local at WBAI, while a number of that local's members, including a shop steward, have been fired and banned, still needs to be addressed.) It is worth noting that Pacifica management, shortly after AFTRA's public posting, placed TWO statements on the Pacifica website misrepresenting AFTRA's position. But AFTRA has compelled Pacifica to remove those and another statement from their website, and has demanded that a public correction be made. AFTRA updated their statement, to include comment on Pacifica's lies.

News From Los Angeles

On August 25th, working jointly with various Spanish-speaking community groups, the Pacifica Campaign organized and hosted in Los Angeles a ground-breaking bilingual conference, "La Participacion de la Comunidad en la Radio: KPFK-Pacifica-Community Access to Radio." The conference addressed ways that KPFK can serve Spanish-speaking communities of Southern California and how these communities can contribute to the growth and rebuilding of Pacifica.

All speeches delivered at the conference were in Spanish, with English translations provided. Juan Gonzalez was the keynote speaker. Other speakers included Leonore Lizardo, former KPFK LAB and Pacifica National Board member, current and former KPFK producers and programmers Arturo Lemus, Raymundo Reynoso, and Fernando Velasquez. The Aztlan Media Collective and the Comite Pro-Democracia en Mexico co-sponsored the conference.

On August 26th, a fundraiser for the Free Pacifica lawsuits and the Pacifica Campaign was held in the Santa Monica home of Jan Goodman and Jerry Manpearl. The garden and pool party, honoring Roz & Howard Larman for broadcasting "Folkscene" at KPFK for 27 years, was attended by approximately 250 guests. Dar Williams, folk singer / songwriter was the featured artist. Many other musicians performed as well. More than $15,000 dollars was donated to the Paul Robeson Foundation, a Los Angeles-based foundation that has come to the support the Pacifica Campaign and The Free Pacifica Lawsuits. The event was emceed by Theresa Bonpane. Michael Feinstein, the Mayor of Santa Monica, and Juan Gonzalez were keynote speakers. John Connolly, president of AFTRA also spoke, updating the guests about AFTRA's position on the crisis at Democracy Now!

We Also Need Your Financial Help

As you might expect, it costs thousands of dollars a month to keep a full-time staff of national organizers and scores of events going on in several cities. We depend entirely on your contributions to help pay for rent, stipends, travel, literature, mailings, and equipment for special events. In addition, the Pacifica Campaign provides major financial support to both (WBAI Radio in Exile) and Free Speech Radio News. Only your enormous outpouring of support has enabled us to keep the constant pressure on Pacifica. If you have not already done so, please write a check today. If you have already contributed, please consider another donation.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made payable to the Institute for Media Analysis/Pacifica Campaign. Our address: 51 MacDougal St., #80 New York, NY 10012

News From Other Pacifica Campaign Fronts -- The web-radio project WBAI Radio in Exile continues to grow and train volunteers, under the direction of Democracy Now!'s technical director Errol Maitland and journalist Ryme Katkhouda. The team unveiled a revamped website ( )this week, and will continue with their daily schedule of broadcasts. Their webcast of Democracy Now! in exile was rebroadcast over the air by several affiliates, until the KPFA-satellite broadcast system was set up. has obtained a used school bus, and has been reporting from Kansas City, Minnesota, Madison, Wisconsin, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, NYC, Long Island, the Clearwater River Revival, and will be in Washington, DC for the IMF/World Bank protests at the end of September.

Free Speech Radio News -- The daily radio newscast from the growing ranks of professional radio journalists on five continents who refuse to file stories for Pacifica Network News (PNN), because of PNN's acquiescence to management censorship, is now carried on more stations than PNN. Pacifica station KPFA carries the newscast as well as the "must-carry" PNN, although that station is discussing dropping Pacifica's increasingly lacklustre excuse for a newscast. To find out if your station is carrying FSRN, see their website at or call the Pacifica Campaign office. The news can also be heard online at their website.

NAHB protests on Maui -- Acting Board chair Ken Ford, who has taken to threatening Pacifica listeners with arrest by the FBI merely for criticizing him, continues to defy the will of the listeners and the letter of the law by maintaining his grip on Pacifica. To indicate the breadth and strength of the resistance to his conduct, activists have been present on Maui this week to speak directly to Ford's employers at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Fall Board of Directors meeting. -- This activist website has done tremendous work to expand awareness of the Pacifica crisis and to enable thousands to take immediate action via fax and email. This week, in addition to supporting the unionized workers of Krug Winery in California, the site is facilitating thank you emails to Valrie Chambers for her support of the DN! staff. Be sure to check it out.

Washington, DC Pacifica Campaign office to open -- Recognizing that the bulk of recalcitrant Board majority members, Pacifica National Headquarters and its slew of top-dollar hired guns such as PR firm Westhill Partners and the white shoe law firm Williams and Connolly, are all located in DC (as is behind the scenes string-puller, former Pacifica Board Chair Mary Frances Berry), the Pacifica Campaign is working to open a full-time DC office. We will work to provide support for media activists covering the IMF/World Bank protests at the end of September, by coordinating with the Independent Media Center, or IMC. Hundreds of journalists will be providing coverage of the IMF/WB meetings and protests beyond the narrow confines of the corporate-sponsored media.

These are just a few of the many actions that the Pacifica Campaign is helping to organize along with the rest of the Free Pacifica Movement. Together we are going to win this struggle.


Pacifica Campaign