A Pacifica Chronology

The present conflict between KPFA and the Pacifica Foundation did not begin with the firing of station general manager Nicole Sawaya on March 31 or Larry Bensky on April 7.  It did not begin with a controversial vote by the 
Pacifica National Board in February that stripped the local advisory board of any representation on the national board.  And it did not begin with the election of Mary Frances Berry to the chair of the board or the hiring of Lynn Chadwick as executive director.  For the beginning you have to go back, at least, to September 92 and follow the thread of events.

Chronology of Abuses By The Pacifica Management & Board of Directors.

1991-1992 "Strategy for National Programming" a plan to create a NPR - like National Program Service funded with donations from corporate foundations like Pew, Ford and MacArthur is drafted by Pacifica Management.

Feb. 1993  - Pacifica Board approves "Strategy for National Programming." KPFA Manager Pat Scott, embroiled in  battles with staff at KPFA,  is sent by Pacifica Executive Director David Salniker to lobby Congress, which is threatening to de-fund Pacifica.

1994  - Pat Scott  is made acting Pacifica Executive Director and begins dictating program formats to stations. She participates on CPB "task force" with  Lynn Chadwick, Executive Director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters,  that recommends new funding guidelines tying stations to Arbitron ratings and higher fundraising goals. Purges begin at WPFW (Washington, D.C.).


Jan. 1995  - Pat Scott fires KPFK (L.A.) management and seizes control of books. Contract negotiations there are suspended. Gag rules are enforced against any staff member trying to inform the public regarding the firings. Purges of programmers begin at KPFK.

Feb. 10 - KPFK producer Al Huebner is removed for criticizing firing of KPFK managers. His engineer, Neal Connor is threatened with removal for not cutting Al's mic

Feb. 1995 - Pacifica Program Directors are told by hired consultants to mainstream the programming.

March -April 1995 - A union-busting organization,  American Consulting Group, is hired by Pacifica to draft new contracts stripping workers of all say in the organization, eliminating the right to strike, and unpaid staff from the
stations' unions.

June 1995 - Pacifica Board closes all future finance committee meetings to the public in violation of federal communications law. Board minutes and board meetings are now "confidential."

July 1995 - Pacifica Board Executive Committee issues a "my way or the highway memo" announcing "vast changes" and advising Local Advisory Board members who disagree with the new direction of Pacifica to resign.

August 1995 - Massive purge of KPFA programmers by KPFA general manager Marci Lockwood under direction of Scott.

Sept. 1995 - Observers, including Take Back KPFA representative barred from National Board meeting in Houston.

Nov. 1995 - Brian McConnville, investigator from Inspector General's office of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB),  learns of closed board meetings and begins investigation of Pacifica's violation of open meeting rules. He is fired 17 days later before he can release a critical report after Pacifica's lawyer goes over his head  to quash the investigation. Deputy IG Director Mike Donavan, who looks into the Pacifica Board's actions is also fired on eve of making a critical report.


Feb. 1996 - KPFK producer Ron Wilkins and his guests are removed from the air mid-broadcast and banned from KPFK for attempting to discuss treatment of African American programmers at KPFK. Bob Marston, who was in the building repairing equipment at the time is also banned because he was talking with Wilkins and the others after they were cut off the air.

Feb. 26, 1996 - "Gag rule" issued by Mark Schubb at KPFK saying that staff will be fired if they let callers criticize Pacifica policy on-air.

May 1996 - Hiring of American Consulting Group is revealed. Pacifica Management lies repeatedly as criticism mounts. Management files a "clarification of unit" with the National Labor Relations Board to have unpaid staff at WBAI  removed from the union.

August 29, 1996 - Mark Schubb threatens to ban UE Rep John Fernandes from KPFK

Nov. 1996 - A Pacifica 5 -Year Strategic Plan is released, after a year and a half of secret meetings. It is a blueprint for remaking Pacifica into a top-down corporate hierarchy. More than $60,000 has been spent on union-busting activities


Feb. 1997 - WBAI workers win at the NLRB. Pacifica appeals the decision, spending tens of thousands of dollars of the subscribers' money.

March 1997 -  Under fire from listeners and the media, Scott hires Former Justice Dept. spokesperson Burt Glass as Pacifica's first "communications director". He drafts a "cheat sheet'" full of lies and evasions for use in answering questions from the subscribers. Pacifica releases plan to reduce local representation on the National Board by half, which would give the board the ability to appoint a 2/3 majority.This is tabled in June when community members hire lawyer.

April -May 1997 - A "softer" CPB Inspector General's report is released which, nevertheless,  cites Pacifica for violating open meeting laws. Scott and Pacifica Board Chair Jack O'Dell fly to Washington and meet privately with CPB Board and lawyers. CPB disregards it own IG's report, and praises the new Pacifica regime.

May 27, 1997 - WBAI Program Director tells the WBAI local board that Pacifica executive director Pat Scott is pressuring Democracy Now producers to downplay criticism of Clinton and to remove Mumia Abu Jamal commentaries.

June 1997 - Mary Frances Berry made new Pacifica Board Chair.

July 1997 - KPFA Manager Marci Lockwood resigns. Lynn Chadwick, Executive Director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, is made manager of KPFA.

August 1997 - Pacifica writes a gag clause into the contracts for affiliate stations, many of whom have been running disclaimers about union-busting at Pacifica


Feb. 1998 - KPFK Management sends memo barring programmers from encouraging attendance at anti-war demonstrations for Iraq.

April 1998 - Pat Scott resigns and is praised by CPB President Coonrod,  former  Deputy Director of the Voice of America, and director of Radio Marti, propaganda arm of US vs. Cuba.  By now, more than 300 people have been purged from Pacifica stations.

Oct. 1998 - Lynn Chadwick named Executive Director of Pacifica..

Dec. 1998 - Larry Bensky abruptly fired then reinstated after public outcry. KPFA's new manager Nicole Sawaya supports Bensky and allows him to defend himself on the air.


Feb. 22, 1999 - Pacifica Archivist Al Stein is fired before he can give a report on neglect and mismanagement of the Pacifica archives.

Feb. 26,1999 -  Pacifica Board, overriding the votes of local Boards, staff and communities, makes itself a self-selecting body. WBAI staff goes on the air to mobilize the community against the heist. Board claims the CPB made them do it.  In an unpublicized meeting of the Pacifica Executive Committee on the eve of the meeting, it is agreed that Sawaya, the most popular manager in KPFA history, "has to go."

March 31 1999 - Nicole Sawaya fired (technically, her contract was not renewed) Protests begin as KPFA staff  goes on the air to tell the community what's going on inside Pacifica.  The staff begins making on-air statements demanding the reinstatement of Sawaya.

April 4 1999 - Larry Bensky replies to Chadwick's distorted press statement and reads the speech he had prepared to deliver to the Pacifica Board in February bit was prevented from completing, on the expansion of Pacifica at the expense of KPFA and its sister stations.

April 9 1999 - Bensky fired again after promising on the air to discuss Chadwick's firing of Sawaya on his Sunday Salon program.  The staff continues on the air calling for the reinstatement of both Sawaya and Bensky and an independent mediator to deal with the underlying disputes between Pacifica and KPFA.

April 15. 1999 - 1000 people demonstrate outside Pacifica's offices in Berkeley.

April 16, 1999 - KPFK Manager Schubb pulls FAIR's Counterspin program off the air mid-broadcast to prevent airing of interview with fired broadcaster Larry Bemsky from being heard by KPFK listeners. Other programs covering the events at KPFA are also censored.

May 9, 1999 - Close to 2000 KPFA supporters rally  for staff at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park to hear June Jordan, Utah Phillips, Holly Near, Wavy Gravy, Barbara Lubin and many others speak in support of KPFA staff.

May 10 - 1999 - KPFK Phone volunteers gagged from discussing KPFA/Pacifica matters in the phone room.

May 13-27, 1999 - KPFA staff has record $605,000 Spring Fund Drive. 6200 of 7000 subscribers pledge under protest.

May 19 - National Labor Relations Board files complaint for unfair labor practices against Pacifica/WBAI

June 12, 1999 - 22-year programmer Robbie Osman exposes Chadwick's attempt to portray station to Pacifica Board as returning to "equilibrium."

June 14, 1999 - Atty. Dan Siegel, representing 16 members of Local Advisory Boards (LABs) of KPFA, KPFK and WBAI, sends a demand letter to Mary Frances Berry advising her that bylaw amendments approved by the Pacifica Board in Sept. '98 and Feb. '99 violate California Corporation law and requesting that they be rescinded. Deadline for a response is June 25.

June 18, 1999 - Chadwick fires Osman, accusing him of having "forfeited" his "access to KPFA/Pacifica airwaves."

June 20, 1999 - Hundreds turn out for an emergency rally at the station as KPFA goes off the air for the two hours of Osman's program.

June 21, 1999 - After camping overnight in front of KPFA and Pacifica headquarters, Chadwick has 14 people arrested for blocking Pacifica's doorway. Chadwick and Pacifica's six employees remove the files to another location.

June 22, 1999 - Several hundred again show up for a press conference in front of the station, part of which is played live on :Flashpoints.  Speakers include June Jordan, Michael Parenti, Elizabeth Martinez, Van Jones, Medea Benjamin . June 23, 1999 - Janet Reno's Justice department intervenes on behalf of Pacifica management; US DOJ staffer from the COPS Program (where former Pacifica Communications Director Burt Glass also worked) questions Berkeley Police Chief about their reluctance to arrest Pacifca demonstrators.

June 23, 1999 - Pacifica affiliates vote no confidence in Pacifica management

June 24, 1999 - Pacifica turns over 2000 letters and e-mails from listeners protesting Pacifica management actions to the Berkeley police.

June 25 - 27, 1999 Pacifica Board meets. Attempts to deflect critics with accusations of racism and violence - an old ploy of Pacifica management since the Pat Scott days. KPFA union files unfair labor practice charges.

June 27, 1999 - Armed guards are brought into KPFA. The security company, IPSA, is the 4th  largest in the country and has had clients such as ABC (against the NABET strikers) and the City of Atlanta. The bill may run as high as $300,000 per MONTH. Who is paying for this? Not Pacifica, becuase Pacifica doesn't have that kind of money. And if Pacifica is paying, how can they justify lack of funds as a reason for having no local news at KPFT and WPFW for the last 3 years. Tapes are being brought up secretly to Berkeley from Pacifica Archive as Chadwick prepares to shut down KPFA.

July 8, 1999 - KPFK's Blase Bonpane goes public and tells why he has been on strike against KPFK

July 12, 1999 - Andrea Buffa at Media Alliance receives misdirected memo from Pacifica Board member Micheal Palmer discussing plans to "shutdown and reprogram KPFA and sell KPFA and/or WBAI. MF Berry comes to Berkeley and holds an invitation-only press conference, attempting to keep out reporters from media who have been critical.

July 13, 1999 - Dennis Bernstein broadcasts  press conference where the Palmer memo is discussed. He is pursued by Pacifica's armed goons into the newsroom where his tussle with the goons is broadcast, interrupting the evening news. Garland Ganter, KPFT manager brought in to enforce the gag rule throws the switch and takes KPFA off the air. Tapes begin playing as hundreds converge on the station. 52 staff and community members, including Dennis Bernstein and the news staff, are arrested.

July 14, 1999 - Staff arrive to find KPFA locked and boarded up. They are informed that they are on "administrative leave." Democracy Now covers the story - and is again censored from Pacifica stations.

July 15. 1999 - California legislators call for investigation into Pacifica finances, actions

Camp KPFA is established outside the now boarded-up building

July 16 - FAIR calls for resignation of Pacifica Board and management. Counterspin segment on Pacifica censored by GM Mark Schubb at KPFK. Class action lawsuit filed to reverse hostile takeover of Pacifica

Daily protests continue as Communications Workers of America sets up picket around KPFA transmitter to prevent installation of an ISDN line that would allow programming to be fed in from another station.

July 18, 1999 - Berkeley PD swoops down on Camp KPFA in the middle of the night and makes mass arrests. Camp is back the following day.

July 19, 1999 - Huge benefit concert with Joan Baez and others organized on a few days notice sells out.

Statements of solidarity come from many groups, protests continue. Protests in solidarity are held at WBAI and KPFK.

July 22, 1999 - Pacifica hires Fineman and associates - high priced PR firm to do damage control  Berkeley police sweep Camp KPFA in the wee hours, and arrest demonstrators.

July 26, 1999 - Daily protests begin outside Fineman and Assoxiates.

July 27, 1999 - Berkeley City council hold special session. Calls for Board resignations and return of KPFA to community control. City will contribute to lawsuit, file amicus brief. Police are instructed to facilitate peaceful protests. Pacifica Board holds conference call discussing sale of KPFA.

July 28, 1999 National Board member Pete Bramson goes public - reveals Pacifica Board executive committee will hold secret meeting that day to vote on sale of KPFA. Pacifica almost bankrupt as a result of the Boards expenditures in the cover-up. Adding insult to injury, they discuss taking a $5 million dollars loan with KPFA's frequency as collateral.

July 29, 1999 - Foiled by the Bramson revelation, MF Berry sidesteps mediators goes to press with statement that KPFA will reopen and staff should return. Claims staff may "run the station." Denies sale in progress. This is a ploy to deflect attention from sale exposure.

Michael Moore revokes permission to have his programs broadcast on Pacifica in protest; calls for resignations

July 30, 1999 - Fineman quits. KPFA staff are admitted into building. An estimated $30K's worth of damage has been done to the facilities and studios by IPSA goons. The KU Satellite uplink equipment, actually owned by KFCF has also been mishandled and damaged.

July 31, 1999 - More than 10,000 march in Berkeley in support of KPFA and Free Speech radio - call for removal of Pacifica Board

August 3, 1999 - WBAI Local Advisory Board calls for resignations of Berry and Chadwick, and a democratic restructuring of Pacifica's governance

August 12, 1999 - RadioNation and KPFK host  Marc Cooper leads the charge to purge KPFK LAB members opposing hostile takeover of Pacifica, and begins a campaign to impeach the credibility of Flashpoints' producer Dennis Bernstein.

August 17, 1999 - As part of a national day of action, KPFA staffers file Civil Rights complaint against Pacifica management and Mary Frances Berry with the US Commission on Civil Rights, which Berry chairs. Demonstrations and actions take place at all 5 Pacifica stations; meanwhile Pacifica CEO Chadwick announces that Pacifica officials will not testify.

August 18, 1999 - An ad runs in the New York Times condemning the actions of Pacifica's Board and Management. It is signed by dozens of prominent activists, intellectuals, journalists and other community leaders.

August 20, 1999 - California legislature holds public hearings in Oakland as to whether Pacifica violated its non-profit status by its recent actions. KPFA staffers testify, in spite of orders by Chadwick that they face termination if they do. A week later, the Legislative Audit Committee subpoenas financial records. Word has leaked out that the Pacifia Board spent more than half a million dollars (of the subscriber's funds) on armed guards and PR experts to support their takeover of KPFA and Pacifica.

August 24, 1999 - Mary Frances Berry makes surprise visit to WBAI for unpublicized meeting with staff. She displays her rancour towards KPFA and its community, and asks if WBAI staff would support the sale of KPFA to create a series of small stations in the South.

August 26, 1999 - National Labor Relations Board oveturns earlier decision; rules to grant Pacifia management request to eject unpaid staff from WBAI's union. Tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of listener funds have been spent to do this. This action was started by Pat Scott in 1996 to take away all rights from community producers, to be able to purge them more easily.

September 1, 1999 - KPFK reporter Robin Urevich banned for writing an article on censorship by KPFK management

September 2, 1999 - Legislative Committee votes to subpoena Pacifica financial records

September 5, 1999 - Enfoque Latino, a Spanish language public affairs program that has aired on KPFK for 13 years is cancelled after covering the Pacifica crisis from a perspective critical of KPFK and Pacifica Management

November 1, 1999 - Pacifica News Director Dan Coughlin is removed after he airs a report of the one-day boycott of Pacifica Programming by 16 Pacifica Affiliate stations. Pacifica listeners file a lawsuit calling for the removal of the Pacifica National Board, and affililate WORT-FM in Madison, WI declares a rent strike against Pacifica.

December 9, 1999 - Pacifica's WPFW Axes FAIR's CounterSpin: Media Criticism Show Cancelled After Three Earlier Instances of Censorship


January 5 - Pacifica Foundation moves its national office to Washington. DC in the dark of night

Feb. 26, 2000 - Berry, Chadwick to resign - the station sale team of Acosta, Palmer and Ford occupy top Board positions. WPFW manager Bessie "the Censor" Wash named to succeed Chadwick. Audience research consultant's report: Pacifica has not been turned into NPR fast enough.