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Pacifica Campaign Update from Juan Gonzalez

Dear friends,

The Pacifica Campaign has been gaining widespread support over the past two weeks. Pacifica management is running scared and has resorted to increasingly desperate tactics in a futile attempt to discredit our growing movement for democracy. Here's a quick run down of what we in the Pacifica Campaign have managed to accomplish since the last update we sent you.

Several Pacifica Campaign organizers traveled to California from March 23 to 28th and participated in a half dozen public events that drew thousands of people. In Los Angeles, for instance, I spoke at an event in that drew over 1,200 people, along with WBAI Program Director Bernard White, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and other civil liberties advocates and community leaders from the KPFK listening area. It was an emotionally-charged and historic evening -- the largest gathering ever in the Los Angeles area on the Pacifica crisis. We heard from local Latino and African American activists, some of whom had been fighting to reform the local Pacifica station, KPFK, for many years. Those activists explained how, in a city that is overwhelmingly black, Hispanic and Asian, KPFK was increasingly catering its programming to the white liberal community.

In the days leading up to the event, Pacifica management spent much time trying to wreck it. KPFK station manager Mark Schubb, RadioNation host Marc Cooper, and Pacifica National News Director Patricia Guadalupe actively sought to convince participants and sponsoring organizations that we were just a bunch of disgruntled dissidents with no public support and with personal axes to grind. They never mentioned, of course, that event organizers had invited six different members of Pacifica management to speak at the event, but had been refused. When they could not stop the event, they chose at the last moment to send Schubb to speak. Both he and PPN news staff member Don Rush were given time to speak. Many in the crowd expressed shock when they learned how many staff members and volunteers have been systematically purged from the local Pacifica stations during the past few years, and hundreds signed up to join the listener financial boycott.

After the Los Angeles meeting, we sent an organizer to the National Federation of Community Broadcasters annual meeting in San Francisco. Pacifica has traditionally played a central role at this gathering. This year, however, the only sign of Pacifica was an unstaffed table and the curious and sporadic presence of some management and their star reporter Don Rush leafletting the attendees with a statement from the AFTRA local that represents Pacifica's national staff. Pacifica spared no expense jetting its managers around to promote the statement.

The NFCB conference participants responded very favorably to the Pacifica Campaign. They asked for a special meeting for an update and for ways that independent, community stations could get involved. We also spoke at packed events in Berkeley, San Rafael, San Francisco and Mendocino, and saw increasing unity around the need for a boycott by longtime activists in the Bay Area's Pacifica reform movment. We were especially gratified to learn that Carol Spooner, the lead plaintiff in the listener law suit against Pacifica, had decdided to endorse the boycott. We not only succeeded in spreading the word, but we managed to help the fundraising efforts for lawsuits against Pacifica and several west coast listener groups. Those groups raised more than $30,000 at the various events where we spoke.

Our week of organizing on the West Coast was so successful that it sparked an immediate and vicious counterattack from Pacifica Management. On March 26th, Executive Director Bessie Wash made an unprecedented interruption of a live Democracy Now! broadcast. In a five-minute taped diatribe, Wash claimed that the campaign against Pacifica management was violent and gave two recent "examples." She claimed a Houston leafletter attacked a KPFT staffer during a fundraising event. She also claimed that the WBAI interim station manager was attacked "in her own studio" while conducting an interview with a US Congressman. The same line was subsequently satellite cast over the Pacifica network by Pacifica Board Chair David Acosta, and a press release issued by Pacifica specificially targeted our campaign and me personally for attack.

In each incident they mentioned, the opposite is true. In Houston, the leafletter was assaulted by the KPFT station manager and another man. It was the leafletter, however, who was charged with assault and who spent the night in jail ( At WBAI, it was Ken Nash, the host of the NYC area's only community labor program, "Building Bridges," who was in the midst of an interview with Congressman Major Owens when WBAI interim station manager Utrice Leid barged into the studio, canceled the show and fired Nash. Congressman Owens described the outrage from the floor of the House. This tactic of throwing around false accusations of "violent protesters" has been used so often by Pacifica management in recent years that it is becoming a broken record. We in the Pacifica Campaign have repeatedly said we condemn any violent acts or illegal harassement of Pacifica personnel. But we uphold the right to engage in dissent, protest and civil disobedience for our movement. It is important to note that Pacifica has now opted to use its airwaves to attack and discredit its opponents while at the same time it threatens to fire any staff member who gives time on the airwaves to listeners or guests that oppose management. And we feel honored that Pacifica is so worried about our success that it is now targeting us by name.

Another milestone achieved during the past two weeks was the first mass mailing of literature about the Pacifica crisis. Thanks to the work of labor movement activist Ray Rogers and his Corporate Campaign, we were able to mail more than 60,000 brochures to labor and community activists around the country and another e-mail distribution to more than 50,000 radical activists. This was perhaps the largest mass distribution of information so far about the crisis. During the past few days, hundreds of responses, including thousands of dollars in additional contributions, have been coming in from that mailing. Those responses make patently clear how much the Pacifica reform movement is growing.

Last week, two of our organizers traveled to the home turf of the Pacifica hijackers, Washington, DC, where we held an informational meeting at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, and met individually with key community leaders. There, we learned that while WPFW has a popular following among jazz enthusiasts because it is the only all-jazz station in D.C., most of that following comes from the upscale Virginia and Maryland suburbs, not from the inner city. We have established productive relationships with many in the African American, labor and progressive communities in DC who are upset that the station is not addressing the issues that affect the inner city, and we are planning a bigger public event for Washington, near the beginning of WPFW's May fund drive.

Finally, in the coming week we will be preparing a major escalation of our campaign by training some 75 to 100 volunteer organizers who will spearhead direct action and boycott events during the month of May. If you are interested in more information about this or want to become more directly involved in any aspect of our work, contact our Pacifica Campaign office at 646-230-9588 or email I'm sorry for the length of this update but we believe it is important to keep each of you informed. Thanks to each of you who has sent a letter or protest e-mail or phoned Pacifica, who has come out to a meeting or protest, or who has sent in a financial contribution. You and I both understand that the fight over Pacifica's future has become one of the most important movements for media democracy in U.S. history. We cannot afford to lose. We will not lose. The days of the Pacifica hijackers are numbered. They just haven't realized it yet.


Juan Gonzalez