• news
June 23, 1999
news | a+e | sf life | extra | sfbg.com


Follow that story

Pacifica battle rages; next front will be board meeting

Washington, D.C., will be the next front for the ongoing battle between KPFA staffers and KPFA's parent company, the Pacifica Foundation. A pair of Bay Area activists are expected to push for a resolution to the crisis at the June 26-27 Pacifica national board meeting, to be held in the nation's capital. The duo, Jay Imani and Mike Alcalay, sit on KPFA's local advisory board; sources close to KPFA told us the delegates intend to demand a mediated resolution to the conflict and the reinstatement of canned staffers Robbie Osman, Larry Bensky, and Nicole Sawaya.

The Bay Guardian was unable to reach Imani or Alcalay for comment by press time.

The fight at KPFA, simmering since the early 1990s, has reached heightened proportions. The June 18 removal of Osman, a 22-year volunteer programmer, is the latest source of conflict between KPFA staffers and the Pacifica Foundation, which owns and manages the station and four other alt-radio outlets across the country.

On June 20, 300 people picketed the station, leading to the arrest of more than a dozen protesters June 21. "It's clear that Pacifica is under siege," Jeff Blankfort of the Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica, said. "Blankfort told us the protests outside the Pacifica offices would continue until a resolution was reached.

In recent months Pacifica has also fired KPFA general manager Nicole Sawaya and longtime show host Larry Bensky. Critics of Pacifica claim the foundation is moving to the political right and acting autocratically. The foundation says those charges are overblown and contends that Osman and Bensky broke long-standing rules against exposing dirty laundry on the air. Pacifica has yet to explain the termination of the highly regarded Sawaya.

While the conflict at Pacifica has been a hot topic in alternative media circles for years, the dailies and TV news are now seriously covering the situation for the first time in recent years. It remains to be seen what effect the mainstream media spotlight will have on negotiations between KPFA staffers and Pacifica management.

The Pacifica Network has provided Berkeley Police Department with hundreds of pages of letters and e-mails sent by Pacifica critics. The department is still working to identify the source of gunshots into Pacifica's Berkeley office the night of March 31. According to an e-mail allegedly issued by Pacifica public relations officer Elan Fabbri, the network has been working with a Berkeley police detective who has been staking out the recent protests.

The Bay Guardian was unable to verify the authenticity of the document.

– Randall Lyman randall_lyman@sfbg.com

return to top

news | a+e | sf life | extra | sfbg.com

Anatomy of a Heist
Audio Files
Legal Action