Blase Bonpane: We must Save Pacifica.

Dear Web Master Allard and so very many interested KPFK listeners who have asked me about my self-imposed silence on the air.

First of all some clarification regarding the correspondence you have had with the station.

My tenure with KPFK began in 1969. I was a Professor of Latin American Studies and History at California State University Los Angeles at that time. My program was called LATIN AMERICAN NEWS.

I took a break from KPFK in the early 1970's and went to UFW Headquarters to work as Editor for Cesar Chavez, reestablishing the UFW Newspaper EL MALCRIADO.

Returning to academia in late 1973, this time at California State University Northridge, I also returned to KPFK with FOCUS ON THE AMERICAS, a weekly half-hour program. This program continued at prime time during the 70's and into the 80's. When Mark Cooper arrived as News and Public Affairs Director in 1981, the program was not initiated, it was simply changed in scheduling and format. It remained at prime-time. And such was the case throughout the 80's and into the 90's.

In late 1995 I received an insipid message on my answering machine from Station Manager Mark Schubb saying that my program had been cancelled. The message was so unclear that I had to ask exactly when this went into effect. There was some comment about Jerry Brown coming on but Jerry's program was never scheduled at the same time as mine. Curious? Surely after 26 years of prime time programming one might expect some level of professionalism not to mention basic courtesy.

I began to smell the same rat which Pacifica programmers throughout the country were smelling. The Pacifica Board had a clear agenda. This did not represent the thinking of conspiracy theorists, it represented a conspiracy. The purges began in earnest. In a direct attack on the Pacifica Mission Statement, programs began to be evaluated by "cost effectiveness". Monetarist policy in sync with the New Economic Order was
set in place by people who were well trained and badly educated. The Reign of Terror had begun. Station Managers could comply with the mediocrity of the Board or get out. Dissolution of the Mission Statement at the top was protected by gag orders below.

How could there be any money in programs which focused on the rape of small nations by our country?  Asian, African and Latin American programming was decimated. "The Other Side" was to be given a voice! The board forgot that Pacifica was established to give the "other side" of the one side of corporate capital which is heard 24 hours a day and seven days a week on the corporate media. We are the other side.

Let the money making programming come in! Past lives, curing cancer with a happy face and sundry new age babble was money making. How about reading the National Enquirer on the air?

As the senior programmer at KPFK I did not want to let the station go into the La Brea Tar Pits. I suggested to the Program Director that in lieu of my prime time program of many decades I would volunteer to do news commentary. I had never received a penny for my years of programming. On the contrary, my programs were very costly to me in time and money. The Manager did not seem terribly animated by this suggestion and simply said that I should talk to the News Director. Frank Stoltz was enthusiastic and I commented on the news at KPFK from January 2, 1996 until April 7, 1998. My work was plagued by the failures of volunteer "helpers", unexpected preemptions, airing of out-takes rather than the actual commentary etc.. These things, while annoying, are part of the give and take of a community radio station. My air time was five minutes cut to four minutes... and declining.

At the end of each commentary I would say, "For a free copy of this commentary, call the Office of the Americas at 323/852-9808."

The Program Director informed me that I could not give the phone number on the air (something I had been doing for 30 years). I was told I could give the phone number of KPFK. Knowing the overburdened condition of the KPFK switchboard, however, it was clear to me that the only way to effectively fulfill such requests was by calls directly to OOA. I subsequently made it clear to the News Director that the mention of OOA was not important. I would conclude the program by saying, "For a free copy of this commentary call 323/852-9808."

My going on strike is a case of the straw that broke the camel's back. The   arbitrary and unnecessary jerking around about the phone number seemed to represent just another annoyance. Such numbers have been given and are given by news and public affairs programs both nationally and locally.

I hope it is understood that my strike is even more profoundly related to the monetarist policies of the Pacifica Board. These policies have no place in the history, tradition and Mission Statement of Pacifica. The phone number thing was simply the occasion when I determined that action on my part was necessary.

As for the future I will do everything possible to end the efforts to make Pacifica a Second Class NPR. I believe the Board is guilty of malfeasance of office. They must be replaced by people who will carry out the Mission Statement and give autonomous local control to these community stations. Station Managers should show allegiance to the Mission Statement by refusing to comply with a deviant Board.

* Speaking personally I will agree to return to KPFK with a Contract including:

* No Monetary Compensation.

* Competent engineering assistance.

* A minimum of four minutes of commentary or 1/2 hour of programming per week.

* No preemptions without prior notice

 * Any substantive matters from the Station Manager or the Program Director to be in writing. No voice mail mandates.

* Final outro,  "For a free copy of this commentary call 323/852-9808."

That's right, friends. I believe in workers rights. I do not believe in exploitation. I will not sit quietly by while a great institution is destroyed from within.

We must Save Pacifica.

On behalf of the Pacifica Mission Statement,

Blase Bonpane, Ph.D.
8124 West Third Street  Suite 202
Los Angeles, California  90048-4309
FAX  323/852-0655

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