TRANSCRIPT:  Whats The Verdict? Wendell Harper, KPFA,  6/29/99

Wendell Harper:  ...back live with Lewis Sawyer and Wendell Harper.  This is What's the Verdict?  94.1 FM.  We're on from 7 to 8 p.m. each and every Wednesday.  Tonight we are running down the issue of poverty, doing surgery on that bad bad boy, trying to figure out where you fit in and where I fit in.

Do you remember KRE, a black-owned and operated radio station.  For years, in Berkeley.  Gone.  KSOL AM.  KSOL FM. One, hip-hop, rap, rhythm-and-blues, soul.  Gone.  Both. KDRA, for years, lucky 13.  Town hall meetings.  Public affairs programming.  Every Sunday.  Saturday nights for many years, talk shows.  All kinds of music.  Gone.  KPFA: going, going, and before long GONE -- unless you do something -- unless WE do something.

This place is being sabotaged to the extreme.  I'm looking to see where and how people are trying to make it better. I don't see it.  Asking you to take back your money and paying security professionals five or better a shift to sit around and look at people twenty-four hours a day. Complete darkness at night.  People are having a very difficult time to get in and do programming.  In fact on the first night that our codes were taken away -- do you that if somebody hadn't put tape on the studio door, there would have been no news -- wouldn't have been able to get in the studio!

There are a lot of things that are being done that just seem to be done spur of the moment.  And to this point, from where I sit, we've spent a lot of time reacting to what's being done.  And let me tell you this -- This is a microcosm of society in general, baby.  This is not just KPFA.  This is not just KPFA.  This is America.  This is a good idea of global exchange.

If you were around here on a daily basis, you would know what it's like to grow up in the South in the '40s, '50s and '60s.  I'll bet you the people who work here now may not know it, but I'll tell you what -- This is how it was growing up in the South, except the only thing being left out is that we were segregated, and we were lynched, and if you were a woman and a white male (sic), we couldn't even speak to you or look you straight in the eye without risking being lynched.

Now, Lewis Sawyer's right outside.  I'll bet you any amount of money he would agree with me one hundred percent.  And he's giving a sign.  And I'm not exaggerating.  I'm not lying.  You could get wiped out just for lookin'.

Now, can you imagine growing up that way?  So you see why, when I say that I'm not demoralized, I'm not burned out -- that's why.  I spent the first nineteen years of my life going through that.  And I spent the next four and a half to five years going through a lot of this -- being interrogated, being investigated by officers of naval intelligence, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation when I got out of the military.

There were many nights I'd come home in San Francisco, and my roommate would say, "You can't come into the room right now."  "Why not?"  "Because they're investigating you for possible employment."

Hell, I was already working.  Investigating me for possible employment?  It was a continuation of what I went through in the military.

And, being a country boy from Greenwood, Mississippi, you have no idea what I was going through.  You have no idea how those people put me in a room and interrogated me for eight straight hours per day for a full week, and every word I spoke was written down.  And I had to initial and date everything I disagreed with.

And if those African American teachers in that segregated school hadn't cared enough about me to stay on my rear and made sure I learned how to read, write and compute, I would have been kicked out -- perhaps in jailed -- tarnished forever.  But it didn't happen because of that.  But I learned a lot from it, and that's the bottom line.

That's why battles like this...I won't say they don't phase me, because I get intimidated, I have fear, I'm humble like every other person.  But by the same token, I can fight and I can intimidate as well as be intimidated, and I can do it when I'm about as frightened as a person can get.  The military taught me that.  And the South taught me that.

But it also taught me something else.  You don't do things to people you don't want done to you.  And you only do 'em in self-defense.  What belongs to you belongs to you. What doesn't, doesn't.

If you can work things out in any possible way, you do it. Whatever the end is, it should be a positive end.  It should in some way benefit everybody.  It should not be negative -- the ends.  But that does not seem to be where we're going.

Now, I would just like to know from you -- What do you think the word "poverty" means?  Do you think it applies to what goes on here.  Are we rich at KPFA?  Or are we poor?  Are we in a position to mediate?  Are we in a position to negotiate?  Are we strong enough?  Are we committed enough?  Do we have enough fortitude?  Do we have enough inner strength?  Or are we beggared, broke, destitute?  You can tell us.

Maybe you think about petitioning, as KQEC was petitioned. Perhaps not petition, but however they did it, they did it.  But somebody should be sent a message.  A petition drive, it seems to me, would send a great message -- to let it be known -- as an advisory, if nothing else -- that the people of the Bay Area think this radio station belongs to them.  And I mean Bay Area wide, because there are a lot of people whom would never think supports KPFA who've called up and given that support.

Now, where is your head?  Poverty is not just a word, folks.  It is a real occurrence.  And we're all gonna be working for the devil if we don't straighten up and realize that good things don't last forever.

We had a group of security guards who were seemingly laid back, and we all kind of got used to it.  And somebody like me could see that was not gonna last.  We were being set up.

Are we being set up?  Are you being set up?  848-4425. 510 area code.  We've got about twenty-five minutes to talk.  Let's talk, folks.  Frank talk.  Let's talk about how to save this radio station, and in a large sense it has a lot to do with how to save this country.

People have to understand this is not private property. And there are some people who work at this radio station that act as if it is.  I mean, not the people who want to take it, but the people who say they want to keep them from it.  They keep telling us that they own it, they can do what they want with it.  But they never explained who in the hell "they" is.  848-4425.  Let's take a call. This is KPFA.  You're on the air.  Hello.  Yes.

Male Caller 1:  Can you hear me?

WH:  Sure.

MC1:  OK.  Well, first of all, I just want to say, Wendell, I can't tell you who much I support what you did the other day with the security guards...

WH:  Thank you.

MC1:  It took tremendous courage, and I just support you a hundred percent on confronting those people, and keep up the..Keep that up.  But -- I'm sure you're aware of this -- You certainly want to be careful with those people, too.  I have no idea what their motives are, why they're there.  But my sense is that..You know, it almost sounded from the reporting like you're in a war over there....

WH:  Well, you're surrounded by it.  You know, when you say "Be careful", I've been careful all my life.  And when I'm around law enforcement officials, I do nothing to provoke them.  If they tell me to do something, I do it.  I came into a situation where I didn't know who anybody was...

MC1:  Yeah.

WH:  ...and all I was being met with was arrogance.  We can basically do whatever the hell we want.  Standing outside the building as if they own it.  I mean, somebody has to do something.  That's what I'm saying. You reach a point where enough is enough.  And at least you want to know who you're being confronted by.

MC1:  Well, let me..[unclear]..make one of those points.

WH:  Sure.

MC1:  I...At this point -- given sort of the escalating tactics of the management..I mean, use of the term may sound fairly strong to people, but it certainly sounds to me like Lynn Chadwick and Mary Frances Berry and other people on the board don't seem to have the best interest of KPFA or the other stations in mind.  And I think people need to realize that...I'm not sure that mediation is gonna resolve this.  They seem to be hell bent on something, and I wouldn't say that their motives are necessarily very pure.  If they wanted to destroy KPFA and Pacifica and the whole network, they couldn't do a better job than what they're doing right now.

WH:  Well, I'm wondering if we are negotiating, mediating some kind of a space-saving surrender...

MC1:  Yeah, I...

WH:  I don't know, but we'll find out.

MC1:  You're right...

WH:  You know, we'll find out.  I'm not...I'll say this much.  I'm going behind closed doors and negotiate with anybody.  I'm not going to do it. Because once you do that, there's a reason for going behind closed doors.  Then you come saying "We can't talk".  Not me.  And if you go behind closed doors, I am going to denounce you and disassociate myself from you as if you smell.  That's a fact.  I am not going to do it.  I'm never..I've never done, and I'm not going to do it now.

MC1:  Well, I agree with you.  I think anything that happens in the future ought to be done as openly as possible.  I mean, I even advocated that when they had the board meeting out here that it should have been broadcast on KPFA.

WH:  Right.  And I think people should be able to sit there and look at the people who are negotiating so that they can see the faces and see just how sincere and the things that they say.  People will say a lot of things behind closed doors.  But our leverage is the public.  We don't have any other. And that's it.  If we don't have public support behind us -- open, honest debate -- then, boy, we're in for it.  'Cause once you get behind closed doors.. Any time somebody can come into your house, take your keys from you and tell you when you can come and leave.  After a while, they'll be keeping in here! They'll be telling us we can't leave!  Let alone we have to get permission to come in.  Now, you know, that's where it really gets bad.

MC1:  Well, I agree with you.  I think one last point that I want to make, and that it this thing seems to get framed, at least over the air a lot, in terms of the staff and management.  I think in a way it's the wrong way to look at this.  I mean, this is really the community and management.  And it's not just the staff.  The community's got a real huge stake in this, obviously, and they shouldn't be left out of anything that goes on in terms of discussions with the Pacifica management....

WH:  And they won't.  They won't.  I promise you that. And I thank you very much for your call.

MC1:  OK.

WH:  And this is not...No, this is not Pacifica's voice of KPFA.  This is KPFA and the community versus corporate America.  That's who's backing this.

Male Voice:  That's right, Wendell.

WH:  That's who's backing this.  That's who's helping... I think until they make me know otherwise who's helping pay for this.  When you tell people "Take your money back" -- who's paying for this?  Where does the money come from?  If they feel so fortified as to be able to do that.  Why do you tell people to take back money that WE took our time, our emotions to raise -- after a lot of soul searching.  Oh, hello.  This is KPFA. You're on the air.

Male Caller 2:  Yeah, and the first question you put... You know, we are wealthy.  We are everything that is both KPFA and Pacifica radio -- the listeners, the programmers, the volunteers, and the staff.  And this other thing is everything, as you and others previous callers could call it.  The thing that strikes me... I just recently was rereading some early Kurt Vonnegut from the late '50s, and when you say keeping you in there -- You know, they implanted a little radio transmitter inside the soul that would give an electric shock if people would get out of line there, you know...

WH:  Right.

MC2:  ...and..But anyway -- How many more steps is it between anonymous, rude, arrogant, armed thugs representing a corporation calling itself Pacifica and their executive director to implanting a brain to keep you under control.  I mean, it is not that far of a leap.  It seems so extreme to have anonymous armed thugs representing a single person who has created a hostile situation...

WH:  Right.  And they are all over this radio station...

MC2:  You can hear what kind of people they are in their voices, and it's just despicable.  And if you take a step back and look at this kind of behavior in a more sociological and analytical way, you know it's the scenario and the script of delusional and -- I think it would be described in different clinical ways as not being somebody you would want on the street if they didn't have any power, let alone wielding around the power of us -- our station, our network.

WH:  OK.

MC2:  Thank you.

WH:  Thank you very much for your call.  848-4425.  Are you poor?  Are you rich?  Are we rich or poor?  What's going to happen to KPFA, and are you going to allow that?  Are you going to allow it?

I can say I'm not going to allow it...

[break in recording]

Male Caller 3:  ...people together everywhere to stop this, because, you know, this is a war.  They think that we are the...Well, they know that we are the enemy of the state and would then need the government, because we are letting people know we are not going along with the major corporations.  We are letting people know the information.  And we are...I mean, I have studied the actions of COINTELPRO, and that's basically what's happening to the station.  They're destroying it from within.  And they're turning this into a Third World country because of all the stuff that we did in the '60s to turn things around and get people together and help each other and be good the planet and stuff.

WH:  Right.  We're being punished for all the stuff, particularly programs like mine and like Flashpoints...

MC3:  Yeah.

WH:  So, all the stuff we've being on police and on drug trafficking..There are a lot of people who want to stop that.  The Justice Department can't go around and investigate a man getting his head pulled off in Jasper, Texas, but they can investigate why the police weren't tougher on protesters at KPFA.  Something is awfully wrong there.

There are African American politicians who've been put in jail, who've been kicked out of office, wno've been investigated up one side and down the other by the Justice Department.  They don't have any kind of a handle to the department.  No influence.  Our Chair can call 'em up on the telephone and get 'em right down here.  I don't understand it.

MC3:  Yeah.  Again, one more point.  This new Berkeley paper called The Daily Planet.  I just am looking at their Tuesday edition.  It says "KPFA Guards Armed". In the first..It opens up "Extremely hostile environment at KPFA has led to tighter security measures at the Berkeley radio station".  What does that mean?

WH:  Well, it means that whoever did this story doesn't check their facts, and is probably thinking in a security-minded manner.

MC3:  I think they're part of the enemy -- to us, the people.

WH:  Well, just like somebody took an ad out in the Bay Guardian saying why you shouldn't support KPFA staff in their fund drive.  You see.  And I have to question -- as much as I think of the Bay Guardian -- I have to question why they would run an anonymous advertise, if that indeed is what they've done, and to say that they had to do it.  BULL!  If you did it, I'm going to lose respect for you.  I certainly am. Because that is not the way of it.  I certainly wouldn't do it to the Bay Guardian.  I guarantee you. If I owned it, somebody came up with an anonymous.. At least I'd say "Hey, you've got to come clean. You've got to tell us who you are."  At least you've got to do that.  Now, if that's the case, then by George, I don't blame the person who put the ad in. I blame the Guardian.

MC3:  I think we should call Bruce Brugman (sp?) and question him on this and ask him to come to our defense as one of us.

WH:  Well, he knows me very well, and I know him. I took three classes at Cal State Hayward under Mr. Brugman.  And I was quite glad I did it, because I learned a lot from him, and in a sense he was a mentor of mine.  So, you know, he knows me well, and I would certainly lose a great deal of respect, because that, as far as I know, has never been Bruce Brugman.  Whatever else he may or may not have been, that has not been it.

MC3:  I think he should be asked to put an article on the front page about KPFA right now.

WH:  I think we should.  I think you're right.  And I thank you for your call, too, by the way.

MC3:  Thank you.

WH:  848-4425.  We're talking about poverty, and we're breaking this word down.  And we wants to hear your input as to how it is.  Michael, from where?

Michael:  From Palo Alto.

WH:  OK.  How you doing, Michael?

Michael:  Oh, well, I'm concerned, actually, very concerned with these armed guards and this list of people who can get into the station.  I remember back -- I think it was in April -- yeah, some months ago, early in this crisis -- this phase of this crisis -- hearing a phone number and I think even an address mentioned fairly frequently on the air, and I don't remember hearing them recently.

Oh, by the way, this is a gratuitous comment on how to organize a response.  Would that be welcome?

WH:  Sure.

Michael.  OK, good.  I personally....Yeah..Maybe you'll view this as paranoid, but...

WH:  I won't be able to know until you tell me.

Michael:  OK.  It seems to me that that list could change at any moment, and anybody or everybody all of a sudden -- who's now on the staff -- could possibly all of a sudden not be on the list.  And that the station effectively having been taken over by new staff.

WH:  If we keep going the way we're going, that's exactly what I think is going to happen...

Michael:  Uh, huh.

WH:  ..we'll all be off that list.

Michael:  I'm sorry to hear you share that.

WH:  You see, because people can raise as much money as they want.  They can have been here as long as they want.  They can have been here as short as they want.  They can be as influential whatever.  It doesn't seem to matter.  It doesn't seem to matter what the public thinks either.  Just as the impeachment hearings.  No matter what the public said, they kept going with it...

Michael:  Yeah.

WH:  ...and at some point, though, they still are going to pay.  And at some point the people who continue to do this are gonna pay, even if we don't make them.  But even if I'm not here, I'm still gonna be working to make them pay for this.  Because I've been put through a lot for just doing my job. Thank you very much for your call.

Michael:  OK.

WH:  848-4425.  We've got about eight minutes left, and we want to talk to you -- find out what's your idea of poverty.  What do you think it is?  Is it philosophical?  Is it psychological?  Is it financial? What is it?  Jeannette.  How you doing?

Jeannette:  Yeah, well, somewhat addressing your question, I think in large respect it's being disenfranchised from having a voice is poverty.  And so I have a suggestion, and I don't know if this has been addressed on any of the various shows.  But I notice that KQED radio allows their members to vote for their board...

WH:  We used to do that.

Jeannette:  And it would seem to me that's where you need to go, because that's the least, it may not be a perfect system, but it's a heck of a lot better than this self-perpetuating board.

WH:  Right.  And for my matter, they can get rid of every single one on there right now.  Just sweep the mat clean.  And I think your suggestion is a very good one.  We used to have the opportunity to vote, but they decided they wanted to pick their own membership, and they voted amongst themselves, and that's what they're doing now.

Jeannette:  Well, I think that would be a good focus of a petition drive.  The other question I have -- is there any web page where you folks who are opposed to these changes are posting things?

WH:  Lewis might know.  Lewis.

[unintelligible voice in background]

WH:  Savepacifica at hotmail dot com.

Jeannette:  Hotmail.  OK, thank you very much.

WH:  OK.  You're welcome.  848-4425.  Poverty.  And that's what we're talking about.  What is poverty to you?  Some people simply think of it as being without money, being without a place to stay, being destitute.  But I think of it as a lot more.  Hello, this is KPFA.  You're on the air.

Female Voice 2:  Hi.  Am I on?

WH:  You are.

FV2:  Couple of things organizationally.  But first of all, Wendell, I want to really applaud you.  You and a couple of other folks have just been particularly courageous, and I really appreciate that.

WH:  Thank you.

FV2:  I know it's gonna cost you ultimately.

WH:  Oh, sure.  It's costing me now not to...

FV2:  Yeah, I imagine it is.  A couple of things.  I wanted to give some information about the web page and connections, etc....

WH:  OK.

FV2:  ...and also to let people know that there's a very large community response under the name of the Coalition for a democratic Pacifica that meets every Monday night at the Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship. That's Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship at Cedar and Bonita in Berkeley.

There are two web pages.  There's one..There's a web page that the staff called Savepacifica dot org..I'm sorry, dot net.  So dub-dub-dub savepacific dot net.  You'll find the staff's information. There's another one that's been up since 1995 that went up right after the purges that is called FreePacifica.  And you can get it by calling up dub-dub-dub radio4all -- and that's all one word, small lower case -- radio number 4 all dot org slash freepacifica.  And that's got tremendous history on there.

WH:  OK.

FV2:  And the other thing is that the save...The hotmail has gone down for some reason.  The last I saw it's now...For the email list, it's savepacifica at igc dot org.  And I want to agree with you that there's somebody orchestrating this.  I think we don't need a conspiracy theory, simply because wherever there is greed or ignorance that suffices.  And I think a whole lot of the people on this board are simply ignorant.  They've chosen...Some of them aren't even liberals.  I mean, it doesn't even get that good. And they've been hornswoggled by whoever it is that's running the show here.

WH:  OK.  Thank you very much.

FV2:  Thanks.

WH:  And I can say this much.  The Berkeley Police Department, the City of Berkeley, the mayor and the rest of them, are going to be embarrassed, if these people are armed, and they sit here and let it happen.  Knowing that they're armed.  It shouldn't be.  The law is against it.  And they either don't know the law, or don't enforce.  And so far they haven't.  They haven't.  And we'll get into that more.  But they are going to be embarrassed, because it shows a Berkeley that is going backwards.  I just rue the day when somebody does something maybe foolish here and winds up getting shot.  Then it's too late. But it certainly can happen.  It's happened enough times already.  David from Sebastopol.

David:  Hi.

WH:  How you doing?

David:  Poverty would be losing KPFA.

WH:  We're about to.

David:  Yeah, well, I hope not.  But it sure looks scary.  Wasn't there a meeting in Washington, D.C., this weekend?  I've heard a lot about it before hand, and I have heard no news whatsoever...

WH:  Yeah.  There was.

David:  Is anything...Did anything come out of that? I haven't heard anything on the air about it.

WH:  OK, if you want an update, call KPFA and hit extension 460.  848-6767 extension 460.  And you'll get the update.

David:  The other question I had...

WH:  Sure.

David:  I'm wondering who was generally in charge of the physical plant there.  If these people won't identify themselves, by what authority are they there?

WH:  They're in charge.  Nobody else is here from management.  They're in charge.  I haven't see a single soul from management in the last couple of days.  These people are doing what they want to do.  They're doing what they please...

[talking over each other]

David: these other people, and you have some... I mean, it sounds like they're trespassing.

WH:  They said they'd do what they want to do.  One listener called or sent a fax and complained, and she was told that: "We do whatever we want."  So, that's where we are.  But anyway, I think we'd better end it right there.  And I appreciate all of the response that we've been getting tonight.  And it just again shows that how emotional and how involved we are is the same for the people who are listening.  That's the kind of resopnse we get accordingly.

And let me thank you all for your comments, and you're around afterwards we will talk to you.  But we will continue this next week in another form.  I'd like to get Mayor Elihu Harris on -- former mayor -- to talk about what you do when you are trying to sell a nonprofit, what you must go through, and what happened with KDIA. He can talk some about that -- that they sold to Jim Gabbard (sp?) and wound up in the hands of Disney, and now it's no longer a locally owned radio station.

Thank you very much for listening.  And coming up, next program, Dead to the World, and stay with us.

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