The listener and staff elections for delegates on the local (and thereby national) boards of Pacifica radio stations, including KPFK here in Southern California, are underway. You needed to have become a member by June 30 to vote. This is a critical election over the future direction of KPFK and the Pacifica Foundation.

A faction within the governance that has been involved in previous efforts to split up the foundation, order it into a receivership where a judge could dispose of its assets, and to change the Bylaws to  eliminate local oversight of management and budget, is now seeking to win control of the whole foundation by a joint campaign at all five stations. Their key platform proposals are a thinly disguised effort to push Pacifica into the window of allowable dissent within the corporate political two-party system.

The New Day faction and slate, associated with Donald Goldmacher in Berkeley, Jan Goodman in Los Angeles, and Bill Crosier in TX, all of whom supported the illegal shutdown and takeover of WBAI in NY a few years ago, are promoting what they call ‘professionalism’ and a national program package for Pacifica’s own stations and their affiliates, much as NPR is mainly a national content provider for hundreds of stations around the country. This is the same model as commercial radio like Clear Channel, and commercial TV. They dismiss what they call “localism” as a form of unrealistic “romanticism.”

On the one hand, this flies in the face of the reality that there is a crying need for local coverage and investigative journalism, as well as opportunities for cultural expression and the arts, that is only growing as investment bankers and social media tycoons decimate local newspapers and magazines. The deregulation of broadcasting and the corporatization of NPR means the same few corporations can dominate all the outlets in any given geographic area, and the “public” alternative. So KPFK and the Pacifica stations have the opportunity to rebuild and best serve local communities by airing the creative expressions and the grassroots organizing solutions to the problems people are experiencing

Even worse, the New Day formula is a sheepskin over a wolf — the intent is to make the Pacifica network, including its affiliates, effectively an adjunct of the Biden-Harris re-election campaign next year. Not only would this undermine the stations’ standing and credibility as independent platforms for free speech, it would threaten Pacifica’s standing as a 501c3 non-profit and the non-commercial educational radio licenses it holds from the FCC.

We’re facing war, environmental cataclysms, deepening economic inequality, authoritarian and neo-fascist threats from within and outside the state apparatus, book bans, immigrant-bashing, and other campaigns directed against Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities, against women and LGBTQ+ people, and against organized labor and other working people’s resistance. So it’s vital that KPFK stays true to its mission and continues to air programs of the type that it has added recently. This includes new Indigenous and environmental programming, and programs from community based organizations like Health Care 4 US, Stop LAPD Spying, La Raza Unida, and Extinction Rebellion. The station has a locally produced newscast after years without, as well as a new labor oriented show, “Working Voices,” launched as LA enters an unprecedented period of labor organizing and action. There’s also a bloc of Spanish language and bilingual programming for an area where as many as 40% of households use Spanish at home. All of this would be swept away if New Day candidates are elected and take full control of the local and national boards.

To avoid this, Change Links urges KPFK members to vote for the following candidates: Aryana Gladney, a former LSB member now working with the African National Women’s Organization; Kelly Flores, a member of the KPFK Community Advisory Board, UTLA and the Association of Raza Educators; Rachel Bruhnke, Harbor peace activist and founder of the Cold War Truth Commission; Jack Neff, an environmental activist and defender of Indigenous rights; Soni Lloyd, an education activist; Ralph Hawkins, former secretary of the LSB; Doug Barnett, another former LSB secretary, Quaker, and long-time station operations volunteer; Elizabeth von Gunten, an LSB and PNB member who has opposed the New Day machinations; and Mike Gomez, Riza Saverio, Ian Johnston¬©, and Charles Wilken, four engaged listeners. There may be other deserving candidates, but despite differences among themselves or differences some of us at Change Links may have with some of them, these candidates have opposed New Day’s dangerous efforts to “rule or ruin” KPFK and Pacifica. They are not a “slate”.

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