Letter to Mr. Fineman about his new Clients

From: "Lyn Gerry" <redlyn@loop.com>
Date sent: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 14:24:46 -0700
Subject: Letter to Mr. Fineman about his new Clients

A letter to the latest PR specialist hired to do spin control for Pacifica's management and directors. Fineman and Associates website can be accessed at http://www.finemanpr.com/home.htm


Michael Fineman
Fineman and Associates
71 Stevenson Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

July 23, 1999

RE: Your New Clients, the Management and Directors of the Pacifca Foundation

Dear Mr. Fineman,

I am a long-time listener to Pacifica Radio. One of the things I have valued most about it is the education I have received in analyzing and dissecting propaganda. The very fact that your firm has been retained is an indication of bad faith on the part of your clients, the Pacifica Board and management. For 50 years, Pacifica Radio has
exemplified integrity and the fearless telling of difficult truth. Until your clients and their associates attempted to steal this listener-sponsored institution, and to gag the whistle blowers, there has never been a need for a spin-doctor or "public relations" firm to "manage" Pacifica's image. You see, in the past, Pacifica's officials were not engaged in an attempt to mask the unscrupulous nature of their activities.

The ability to manage a crisis through the media is contingent upon a tightly controlled environment where evocative imagery takes the place of critical thought and documented fact. Our "public relations" strategy is to expose the facts to the public. And we do this not for pay; we do this for love. We are not baffled and grieving
"consumers" - we are Pacifica's angry and disenfranchised owners.

I have read with great interest your account of how you saved the Odwalla Juice Company from financial ruin. There is a big difference between your current clients and the Odwalla Juice Company. There is no evidence that the Odwalla Juice Company intentionally set out to poison its customers. Your current clients, however, have set out to intentionally wrest control of the Pacifica radio stations from the people who created and sustained them for 50 years, and have employed threats, lies and intimidation against those attempting to inform the public of their activities, not only recently, but for the past 5 years. And worse, your clients have,
among other things, cynically played on this country's racial divisions.to evade accountability for their financial and policy decisions.

Mr. Fineman, by taking on the Pacifica National Board as your clients, you are in danger of ending up on your own top ten list of the worst PR blunders.

For example, this press release from Pacifica Executive Director Lynn Chadwick just won't fly. Let's take a look at it, shall we, Mr.Fineman?

July 21, 1999


"As Executive Director of Pacifica Foundation, and as someone who has been committed to public radio for the last 27 years from volunteer to staffer to administrator, this situation has been the most personally distressing development.

We at Pacifica recognize that our public stance should have been communicated more openly and effectively. We regret that we have not been able to create an environment conducive to an easier resolution of the issues with our KPFA staff."

Your clients actually communicated their public stance quite effectively; their actions speak louder than words. They have had journalists, who were reporting on your clients' discussions to strip the assets of the Pacifica foundation, removed from the studios by armed guards in order to silence them. They have had their protesting donors arrested, some of them beaten by police. This goes way beyond "issues" with the KPFA staff, though I realize it is part of the PR strategy to portray this as a labor dispute that got out of hand.

While the community was told, prior to KPFA's last fund-raising drive, that there remained only enough money to pay perhaps one more month's salaries for KPFA staff, for some strange reason, there is now enough money to pay for 1) the staff not to broadcast (since they claim the staff is not "locked out") 2) Round the clock surveillance at two separate locations (the KPFA studio and transmitter sites) by teams of armed guards whose assignment is to prevent KPFA's staff from broadcasting and KPFA's donors from entering the building their donations have built 3) the salary of a new "human resources director", Gene Edwards, recently recruited from a firm specializing in corporate downsizing and replacing permanent workers with non-union temporary workers (http://www.careerlhh.com/index.html) 4) and, of course, you, Mr. Fineman.

Perhaps you would care to issue a press release explaining how much all these services are costing and where the money is coming from?

"Our actions have been predicated on our desire to build on the great KPFA tradition by attracting a larger and more diverse audience while preserving the station's integrity."

In the words of Pacifica National Board member Micheal Palmer...

"Hello Dr. Berry,

I salute your fortitude in scheduling a news conference opportunity
in the beloved Bay Area regarding one of the most pressing
issues of our time............

But seriously, I was under the impression there was support in the
proper quarters, and a definite majority, for shutting down that unit
and re-programming immediately. Has that changed? Is there
consensus among the national staff that anything other than that is
acceptable/bearable? I recall Cheryl saying that the national staff
wanted to know with certitude that they supported 100% by the
Board in whatever direction was taken; what direction is being

As an update for you and Lynn I spoke with the only radio broker I
know last week and his research shows $750,000-$1.25m for

This is a rather strange approach to "building on" don't you think? Wouldn't "demolition" be more appropriate? Your clients, by the way, have attempted, prior to retaining your services, to portray the writer of the above memo as a lone voice. A rational person is thus faced with these choices: 1) Mr. Palmer is insane, because he has imagined previous conversations where the national staff and a "definite majority" (of whom?) supported his idea - in which case he ought to be removed so that he can receive treatment, or, 2) your clients are liars.

Option 3, the claim that this memo is a forgery fabricated by Pacifica's allegedly violent and racist subscriber base is out -- not only has the route of the message been traced to Mr Palmer's computer, but your clients have admitted he is the author. Too bad they didn't hire you sooner, eh?

Your clients have also suggested that that they have not seriously considered Mr. Palmer's "Lone Nut" ideas. The use of the word "update" in Mr. Palmer's memo suggests a continuing discussion which has been seriously entertained. Unless of course Mr. Palmer suffers from an illness, or your clients are liars.

This line deserves some special attention, because its really important:

"the great KPFA tradition"

Mr. Fineman, free speech is KPFA's great tradition. Fighting censorship, corruption, police violence and illegitimate authority are KPFA's great tradition. Advocating democracy, open process and the rights of workers are KPFA's great tradition. Your clients have trampled that tradition into the ground. Your clients' actions have exemplified everything that KPFA and the Pacifca Foundation was founded to combat.

"It is also important to note that as the non-profit licensee of five great public radio stations throughout the country, including KPFA, it is our job to provide effective station support and responsible management as well as to serve as an example and voice for our entire network and for public radio."

Mr. Fineman, in this passage above, did you mean to suggest that other community radio stations should emulate this example of increasing diversity and expanding their audience by locking their staffs out of the station, censoring their journalists and arresting their donors when they protest such actions?

One lawsuit has already been filed against your clients as a result of their "responsible management" and more are sure to follow.

"We must ensure that our stations thrive in an often-hostile public policy environment."

The public policy environment has always been hostile to Pacifica Radio because the search for truth has been its mission. From 1949 to 1999, we have been investigated, threatened, and sometimes jailed to protect a free press. But, until recently, the threats, arrests, and investigations against Pacifica have emanated from outside, not from within.

Your clients have made journalists' confidential files vulnerable to the scrutiny of a "security" firm with admitted ties to the FBI and CIA, and turned donors' letters of complaint over to the police to be scrutinized by a criminal psychologist..

The excuse for this? Three shots fired through the Pacifica office windows late one night. Your client's previous PR flack hit this one hard. PR works only on half truths. Your clients have never explained how it was that a special tactical police unit arrived at KPFA's door within minutes of the shots when they hadn't been
called by anyone at the station, and when the street was deserted of potential witnesses, nor why the police made a bee-line for an announcement of an emergency union meeting posted on KPFA's crowded bulletin board, and took it as "evidence" ?

Your clients have created an environment more hostile than any unfavorable public policy could ever be. The message from thousands of listener-sponsors: the only way to ensure our stations thrive in the future is to have your clients' resignations.

"The irony of this current dispute is that it is occurring between parties who both believe in the survival and importance of listener-sponsored radio."

The irony of this dispute is that, in light of the evidence, your clients would have the unmitigated gall to make such a claim.

Mr. Fineman, a pile of warm and fuzzy press releases will not obscure these facts: if your clients meant any of the sentiments expressed above, they would unlock the station, return the staff, lift the gag rule, and open the books. The fact that your firm has been retained indicates they have no intention of doing any of these things in the future. One must conclude that is because they do not believe in listener-sponsored radio, their conduct cannot be publicly spoken about because it is unspeakable, and their books won't bear scrutiny.

Very sincerely,

Lyn Gerry
722 Waterloo Geneva Rd
Waterloo, NY 13165
former sponsor and staff member