A Conversation with Pacifica Board Chair Mary Frances Berry

Date sent:       Sun, 25 Jul 1999 08:04:06 -0400
From:            Ron Garcia-Fogarty <cita@warwick.net>
Organization:    Centro Independiente de Trabajadores Agricolas/CITA
To:              freepacifica@recordist.com
Subject:         Re: {FP} M.F.Berry

Dear Marian Cruz and all,

I was able to get through to Mary Francis Berry, though it took me awhile of waiting through Working Assets' (very good) taped summary of the Pacifica crisis. She was not in, but I left a message saying that I was very insulted at her claiming that she was diversifying Pacifica.

Today sunday at 10:00 am MF Berry called me at my house and asked me why I was against diversity. I told her I was not against diversity, but against her claim that she stood for diversity within Pacifica. I said that everything the board was doing was going against the community, and was heading in the direction of KPFT. She said that KPFT had some problems, but that KPFA was not going in that direction. She also claimed that there had been studies saying that 90% of KPFA's 150,000 listeners were white males, and that the current actions were meant to seek out a lot bigger audience and more diversified. She kept saying that the things I was saying were based on lies and misinformation. She also said there had been a lot of complaints by latinos and african american listeneres about the lack of diversity within pacifica.

I replied that I didn't believe that pacifica's actions were going to increase diversity within pacifica, since they were firing latino,
asian-american, african american and white programers and managers. I also told her that by not being accountable to the community, they had lost touch with people's concerns, and had created a structure that would worsen any existing problems that existed. She said that the board could be elected if people wanted. However, later in the conversation, she said that the local boards were not elected (to justify the national board not being elected), to which I replied that two wrongs don't make a right. But then she said that the current listeners were not diverse enough (too white and male), and too entrenched in the way that pacifica exists, implying that change would not happen if the listeners elected their own board.

She was also claiming that the management of pacifica had been under a lot of abuse, and that they had to hire the security guard after the shots were fired at the office. She did not respond to my question about the PR firm, or where the funds came from to hire both PR firm and security guards. She had previously claimed that the staff was 'not renewed' because they weren't doing the work they needed to do, and that they needed to fundraise more (after which I told her KPFA had done the best
fundraising in all the years they had been around). She also said that the union busting at WBAI had been before her time, so she had no first hand knowledge of it. She finally hang up on me when she mentioned those studies for a second time, and I told her I did not believe them, and repeated the assertions that she was not being accountable to the communities they are serving or creating any more diversity by her actions.

I think she had returned my call because she thought that I was against diversity. FINALLY here was someone more reactionary than herself whom she could argue against. I'm glad I dissapointed her.

Ron Garcia