: BIG BUCKS OFFERED FOR KPFA,
The following frightening article appeared in today's edition of the San Francisco Examiner. Although Pat Scott, Pacifica's CEO, who appears to be making all the decisions affecting Pacifica, denies that the either KPFA or WBAI will be sold, a decision by her board to do so could be made, and given the secrecy surrounding Pacifica's financial wheelings and dealings, we wouldn't know until after the fact when Scott would tell the mainstream media and the thousands of stunned listeners how the sale of the station "fits into Pacifica's mission."
A recent change in Pacifica's already autocratic governance has made the possibility of a sale all the more realistic, despite Scott's present denials. At its recent secret meeting in Galveston the Pacifica board voted that not only will no station staff members or programmers be allowed to serve on the local station advisory boards, but that from now on the Pacifica Board, that is Pat herself, will select one of the two "representatives" from the local board to sit on the national board. A part of the current station advisory board by-laws at KPFA and WBAI provide for elected staff reprsentation on the local boards. Those by-laws have now been effectively tossed in the garbage by the action of the national board.
SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, MARCH 17, 1997
Are you ready for the all-hit KPFA?
So long, Jerry Brown; hello, Celine Dion?
By Bill Mann
"On the Air"
It almost boggles the imagination. Michael Bolton.... on left- leaning KPFA? Or even worse: Rush Limbaugh? It could happen. But it probably won't.
A radio broker tipped me off recently that the icon of progressive broadcasting, Berkeley's non-profit KPFA-FM, is being ogled by several major commercial broadcast groups during the current radio-station feeding frenzy that's seen a number of station owners in the Bay Area plunge from 48 to 13 in the past three years.*
The consolidation continues apace, with one huge outfit, Evergreen-Chancellor, now owning eight FM stations here. But when I heard that even KPFA and its powerful 59,000-watt signal could be sold to a commercial conglomerate, I was skeptical.
But Pat Scott, executive director of the Pacifica Foundation that owns several nonprofits including KPFA and New York's WBAI, confirms, "We're on the commercial spectrum. We could be sold." Scott then said that not only does she have a big offer currently from an interested radio group, but that she's been offered a whopping $60 million for KPFA -- and $90 million for WBAI. That's a lot of pledge breaks.
Says local radio broker Chester Coleman, "With $60 million, Pacifica could buy two or three educational stations like KPOO and still have a ton of cash left over. And KPFA is always begging for money." Scott agrees, but stresses it's probably not going to happen.
"I've had lots of offers the past three, four years," reveals the embattled Pacifica exec, chuckling at the irony of it all: She's been the target of shrill attacks from fringe groups, some branding her a running-dog capitalist tool for her restructuring of KPFA's program lineup. (Says Scott: "Leftists I like and I can deal with. But some of these people are off the edge.")
Maybe some of Scott's critics will take solace on the fact that Scott routinely tells all these suitors waving big wads of cash at her, "We're just not interested."
Scott says Pacifica is the only independent non-commercial radio group remaining, and chuckles when she adds, "I'm not sure some of our board members are even willing to deal with the concept of the kind of money I've been offered." Scott says flatly of a possible sale of the increasingly valuable frequency (at 94.1 FM), "We've ruled it out."
* These sales were made by possible by the passage of the Telecommunications Act which, curiously enough, received the support of Berkely Congresssman Ron Dellums, whose long-time staff member, Roberta Brooks, is a long-time at-large member of the Pacifica National Board and who is presently its Secretary.