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(See below for names and addresses you can contact concerning these actions by Pacifica...)

Transcript of news report on KPFA evening news, 12/11/98

Anchor: Veteran Pacifica radio correspondent Larry Bensky has been dismissed after nearly thirty years of broadcasting at KPFA and Pacifica. Bensky was handed a two-sentence termination letter after he got off the air Monday afternoon. An action Bensky calls "cruel" and "arbitrary..."
Bensky: "As of last Monday when I got off the air from doing the first 'Impeachment Watch' program I found out...with a note handed me as I left the announcing booth...that I was no longer the anchor of either 'Living Room" or any impeachment programs, and that I was terminated as a paid programmer for Pacifica radio. So my current status is terminated."
Anchor: I understand however that you've been offered a new position?
Bensky: "I was offered a half-time job as 'National Affairs Correspondent' which as long-time Pacifica listeners will know was what I was doing before I began to host 'Living Room' a year and half ago. And the reason why I don't do it any more and couldn't do it any more and didn't WANT to do it any more is that I wasn't ABLE to do it any more. I am now the father of a wonderful 22-month old daughter...I knew that was about to happen...we had negotiated a different status for me so that I wouldn't have to travel so much, be in Washington etc. Offering me a job which requires me to put in endless overtime and a lot of travel is a way of offering me a job that they know I can't accept. So I was offered this half-time job with the full knowledge on the part of Pacifica management, I believe, that I couldn't accept it. Especially since...since the time we first negotiated this... regular listeners will remember that earlier this year I had severe health problems - pneumonia, which has now become sort of a chronic asthma. And I'm less than ever willing and able to go travelling into all kinds of climates all times of year and jeopardize my health. So that offer I don't believe was a serious one."
Anchor: The termination letter was issued after Bensky first agreed, and then declined, to continue hosting the one-hour long new Pacifica program called "Impeachment Watch," which aired daily this week at 4 p.m. and reported on the House Judiciary Committee proceeding. Bensky had said he would not work the extensive overtime hours required for the "Impeachment Watch" program, unless he had a commitment that Pacifica would air a weekly Sunday morning talk program which has been under discussion for many months. The Sunday morning program was to replace the daily noon program "Living Room" for which Bensky served as host. "Living Room" goes off the air December 31st. Pacifica Executive Director Lynn Chadwick at first agreed to comment for this story, then declined, citing Pacifica's policy of not discussing internal matters on the air, and saying there are personnel issues involved that she cannot talk about. Chadwick did provide KPFA with a draft of a letter to Pacifica board members with the draft of a letter to Pacifica board members. The letter says that "regrettably funds were not identified for the weekly Sunday morning talk show, and that Bensky had informed Pacifica that he did not wish to continue serving as National Affairs Correspondent." Bensky says he has raised hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars for Pacifica, and that the small amount of money needed for the weekly program could have been raised easily. According to a Pacifica memo dated November 24, the shortfall of money was indeed small, just fifteen thousand dollars out of a budget of forty-one thousand dollars for the rest of the fiscal year. Pacifica's total annual budget is now almost eight million dollars. Bensky says he has a message for Chadwick and other top Pacifica managers.
Bensky: "You people really have to understand what radio is about, what national radio is about, and how human beings need to be treated. I'm not the first person who's been treated in a very arbitrary and unfair and cruel way by this network. We go on the air and we talk about things like human rights in Nigeria, and the excesses of brutality against people in this country and all over the world, and yet when it comes to how we treat our own people, should they perhaps have become a little less energetic over the years, and not able to do what they were once able to do, to take somebody at that point and kick him down the stairs and tell him when he's sixty-one years old, well, you're not going to have health insurance any more, you're not going to be able to tell listeners who have to some extent come to depend on you and identify with you as the voice of Pacifica what happened to you and your program, you're not going to be able to do any of that. And after almost thirty years they say, 'here's a two sentence letter, get the hell out.' I tell them that I think that sucks."
Anchor: Your letter draws a distinction between what Pacifica has done and what KPFA has done.
Bensky: "Yes, it's very important for KPFA listeners to understand that, first of all, as you can tell because you're hearing this news story on KPFA, KPFA is very different from the rest of Pacifica. What has been done to me has been done by Pacifica management, however that's evolved and has been defined. The general manager of KPFA, Nicole Sawaya, the head of the KPFA local advisory board, Sherry Gendelman, and many people on the KPFA staff have indicated that they think this is as outrageous as I think it is, and they would like to see it reversed."
Anchor:KPFA has been inundated with calls about Bensky's status. Bensky says he feels particularly sorry that he's unable to be a part of Pacifica's coverage of one of the major political stories of this decade...the impeachment of President Clinton.
    You can express your reaction to
  • the termination of "Living Room"
  • the failure to schedule a successor program on Sunday
  • the dismissal of Larry Bensky
by contacting:
Lynn Chadwick
Executive Director
Pacifica Foundation
1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

(510) 848-6767 extension 202


Dr. Mary Frances Berry
Pacifica Foundation National Board
624 Ninth Street NW #700
Washington D.C. 20425

(202) 337-0382

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