Sunday, March 23, 2014

Media: Pacifica Radio (Ava and C.I.)

Pacifica Radio formed in 1946 and began broadcasting in 1949.  Friday, LA Weekly published Hillel Aron's "Left-Wing Darling Pacifica Radio Is Sliding Into the Abyss."

Thing is, people have been predicting the demise of Pacifica forever.  And remember how Pacifica began broadcasting in 1949?  That was KPFA serving the Bay Area.  KPFA went off the air in August of 1950 and 1951 would have already begun before it came back on the air.


You could make many arguments with that.  You could argue that Pacifica death has long been predicted but never come to pass, for example.  Or you might argue Pacifica's been dying since the day it was born.

You could run anywhere with that, guessing this way and that.

Let's instead focus on what has happened.

Pacifica Radio is KPFA, KPFK, WBAI, WPFW and KPFT -- Bay Area, Los Angeles, NYC, DC and Houston.  For funds, the stations depend upon the model of listener donations which are mainly raised via pledge drives.  Many non-Pacifica listeners may be familiar with pledge drives via NPR but Pacifica, which predates NPR, invented the model.

WBAI's in the toilet currently and may soon be cut loose (or it may not).  Why is WBAI in the toilet?

The article notes:

According to emails obtained by the Weekly, three Pacifica stations — WBAI, KPFT in Houston and WPFW in Washington, D.C. — owe Null $74,000 as his cut of premiums he's sold. And according to Bob Hennelly, recently fired program director of WBAI, Null claims that up to 3,000 premiums purchased by listeners were never mailed, going as far back as 2009. If true, it's unclear whether that's due to incompetence (the mail is largely run by volunteers) or because the stations are funding past premiums with payments for recent premiums — a kind of public-radio Ponzi scheme.

Null is Gary Null and Aron clearly does not care for Null.

But that doesn't excuse acting as though 2009 is the issue.

Long before Null was put back on air at WBAI, they were failing to mail the 'gifts' for pledge drives.

This was a problem in 2004, in 2005 and in 2006.

And a lot of subscribers walked over it.

The ones who have contacted us over the years -- we've written of this topic many times -- tie it to Law & Disorder Radio, specifically when the program began offering an archive of past programs on a zip drive.

Did anyone receive that premium?

We've heard from several in Connecticut and from two in New Jersey and from one in Texas (and the Texas donor was especially pissed because he contacted WBAI three times about this over a six month period and never received the premium).  Some of them and some of the other out of NYC listeners took it as an insult to them personally and assumed that those within NYC received their premiums.  At least three didn't.

If you're giving two cents, you deserve to be thanked.

But to get a premium like that you had to toss in sixty dollars or more.

And the 'thank you' was receiving no gift?

This happened over and over with many programs.  And it went a long way towards making people angry at WBAI.

Pretend for a second that it's you and you dug into your pockets to give money for something you believed in.  And you were promised a 'gift' or 'premium' in exchange but you never received it.

Do you just forget it?

Not if you listen to WBAI because, every few months, it's another pledge drive, more on air begging, and you hear promises of premiums and it just makes you angry.  Most likely, you don't just stop giving, you also stop listening.

All stations have problems sending out premiums and that's to be expected due to human error.  But if you contact KPFA, KPFK or KPFT, they make a point to fix the problem.

WBAI burned their bridges with so many listeners as a result of their inability to deliver the promised premiums.

The premium model is an implicit trust agreement whereby a listener shows their appreciation for the programming by donating money and the station shows their appreciation for the donation by providing the listener with a premium.

When it's just taking money?  That's a lot like stealing.

In the article, Aron speaks with four  people: Marc Cooper, Tracy Rosenberg and Matthew Lazar and Ian Masters.

Matthew Lazar presents as a historian.  That's not true.  He went on air with Sasha Lily and trashed a group of listeners and pimped who should be voted during the upcoming elections.

He and Lily lost out because the Rosenberg faction won those elections.

When confronted now on that specific event?

Even Lazar has given up defending his actions.  But instead of getting honest, he takes the position of 'I've washed my hands of KPFA.'

It's a damn pity he didn't wash them sooner.  You can't play radio historian and also break the rules.  Matthew Lazar made himself a joke.  Check the archives, we offered nothing but praise for Lazar until that moment.  We treated him as a historian and were happy to note him.  But then he broke the rules -- there are written rules regarding what can be said on air regarding elections -- and he knew the rules, he's the 'historian.'  If he would acknowledge what he did, we'd be happy to let it go.

Lazar is useless until that day comes because he's been publicly dishonest.

Tracy Rosenberg?

There are a number of people who don't like her.

That's fine.  You make your own decisions about who you like.

But a detached view would recognize that Rosenberg has not only tried to listen to listeners -- both before getting elected to the board and after, she's also been more open than anyone in her position has been.  She will answer questions in e-mails, she will answer them on the phone.  She will leave comments online when there is confusion in a thread.

We respect Tracy Rosenberg's work.  We haven't agreed with every move she's made but we haven't seen her try to hide from her decisions or to push the blame on others.

That leaves Marc Cooper and Ian Masters.

Cooper we've taken to task over the years and we'll go into him in a moment.

Here's a question for the readers:  If someone's running for public office and you're interviewing them live, after the interview is over, is it fair for you to trash the person -- especially on issues you never raised in the interview?

How about if that trashing takes place live on air?

Cynthia McKinney was the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate and Ian Master?

He was a dirty, little bitch.

McKinney served in Congress and is cited on many topics by journalist Greg Palast -- a journalist Pacifica has repeatedly promoted.

Ian Masters kissed McKinney's ass on air during the interview.  When it was over and McKinney was off the phone, still on air Ian Master ridiculed her.

For what?

For saying Bully Boy Bush stole Florida in 2000.

That's not an extreme view or one without supporting evidence.

But even if it had been an extreme view, if Masters disagreed, he should have said so during the interview, he shouldn't have been a little backstabbing bitch who waited until she was off the line and couldn't respond to his attacks.

Ian Masters is not to be trusted, he has not conducted himself in a journalistic manner so all of his attacks in the article and pretense of journalism standards are as laughable as he is.

That leaves Marc Cooper.

Cooper is opinionated.  He's also been very sexist in the past and won't cop to it.

He loves to trash women and tell them what to do.

For example, when Jane Fonda wanted to go around the country in 2005 speaking out against the Iraq War, Cooper wrote a column slamming her.  He'd then go into a slam of George Galloway but the way he slammed Jane, the vicious attacks, that's how he writes about women but not about men.

He can have the belief that Fonda would turn off more people than she would turn on.  He can express that.  But at what point does he get honest that this is why people hate him -- and many people actively hate Marc Cooper.

Assume he's right that Fonda, who had a bestseller autobiography on the charts when Cooper was writing that she shouldn't tour, would turn off a lot of people.  Let's go with a figure, 70%.

That would still leave 30% up for grabs.

(Fonda would not have turned off 70%.  As a well known anti-war activist, her touring would have rallied many anti-war activists and her history and her celebrity would have attracted interest from those who hadn't taken a position on the Iraq War.)

Marc Cooper can't allow that he's ever wrong, can't cop to his past problems with sexism, can't communicate because he's too busy repeating his opinion while covering his ears and refusing to hear anyone else.

And that's a real shame because Cooper is sometimes right and, even sometimes when he's wrong,  he can make an interesting point that may be valid or worth tossing around.

But he gets more and more rigid.

He also forgets that public radio is not Marc Cooper radio.

Public radio is public radio, it needs to serve the public.

A smart person accepts that while an ego maniac believes they scream loud enough to control all programming.

Marc Cooper really wants to be Ted Turner creating CNN but CNN isn't, and never was, public radio or public television.

Marc Cooper used to have a career.

He ruined it by launching non-stop attacks.

In the article, he calls out Amy Goodman, some might argue he attacks her (and he does have that history of attacking women in print).  That's not what we're talking about.

We're talking about when he goes after groups of people.

When he was still published by LA Weekly and could still be heard hosting programs on radio, he attacked those who questioned the official 9-11 narrative.

A lot of people question the narrative.  Skepticism should be encouraged by public radio, not conformity.

If there was one program on KPKF or one on KPFA questioning the narrative, Cooper would have a public fit and go into a rant.

Cooper, David Corn and Norman Solomon would attack premiums stations offered questioning the official narrative.

David Corn and Norman Solomon learned to let it go.

Cooper didn't.

They still have careers as pundits, Cooper doesn't.

If you don't care for the truth movement, then ignore it.

Why in the world are you attacking people?  Why in the world do you think you can dictate what gets aired and what doesn't on public radio?  Or that you should have a say over what's offered as a premium?

Let's pretend for a moment that the 9-11 truth movement is a big joke and the people look stupid.

Who hasn't looked stupid?

We sure have.

And our looking stupid doesn't mean that we should be silenced.

(The truth movement is composed of people seeking truth regarding an attack on US citizens.  They are dedicated to something more important than who's going to win The Amazing Race.  We wish them luck and we don't attack them.  Their actions have already prevented 9-11 from becoming a distant memory and they challenge many of the lies the government has told including Condi Rice's infamous "no one could have guessed" statement.)

What Solomon, Corn and Cooper were engaged in was similar to book burning.

It's not their job to dictate what can and cannot be discussed.

Cooper's ravings lately include pimping US government attacks on Ukraine.

He's really not qualified to determine who speaks and who doesn't.

Even if he were, it's not his choice.

He calls Amy Goodman a thug and that is something he's qualified to determine.  But few will listen to him because (a) he's attacked everyone and (b) he has no independent opinion from a Democratic White House.

Which is the real problem with Pacifica.

It's losing listeners because of it.

Aron writes:

Pacifica is still far to the left of anything else in mass media, and still gives voice to beliefs and ideas found outside the mainstream. It hasn't changed; the world has.
Decades ago, the left called for Lyndon Johnson's head. It was against Nixon, but also against Hubert Humphrey.

Today, those to the left of the Democratic Party have been relegated to the fringes — or perhaps they've relegated themselves, favoring new-age beliefs over science, seemingly invested in the idea that society is as bad off as it's ever been.

Relegated to the fringes?

Pacifica grew in that time period because it presented something other than "Republicans are bad so we must be in bed with Democrats."

That's what allowed it to grow and how it made an impact.

And then a lot of people glommed on to Pacifica and started confusing it with the voice of the Democratic Party.

Today, there's no difference.

Every few months a Dennis Bernstain will temporarily rail against the White House and then some Republican remark/attack/campaign will come along and it's time to stand with Barack.

Public radio stands with the public.

When it fails to, it becomes NPR.

With illegal spying and The Drone War alone, every hour of Pacifica not devoted to arts or health programming should be rebuking the White House.

Instead, they work overtime to make listeners think the White House is them.  But Barack's not part of ObamaCare.  He'll have insurance for life.  He doesn't need a job after he leaves the White House, he has a pension -- he who will not risk a thing to protect the workers of Detroit will leave public office a very rich man who never needs to worry again.

Barack Obama is not the friend of public radio listeners.

He needs to be pushed at every opportunity and that's how you get a left in this country.  That's how it was created in the first place, that's how it can be created again.  Failure to do so will allow 'the center' to continue to move to the right.

KPFA endorsed book burning in order to 'protect' Barack.  The 'book' was The New Yorker, specifically the 2008 cover parodying Barack and Michelle Obama.  Aimee Allison endorsed the destruction of the issue.  The fact that the cover was a joke or that it came from a magazine that was devoted to electing Barack or even that there's such a thing as free speech didn't matter to Aimee Allison.   If you thought this was an embarrassing moment for KPFA and Pacifica, it only got worse.  After pimping the Obamas as her Facebook friends,  Allison would go on, long after the 2008 election, to offer a YouTube video defending Barack's right to kill innocent people with drones.

That goes a long way towards explaining why people don't listen to Pacifica.

It's forgotten now because Air America Radio is forgotten but Pacifica Radio thrived during Air America Radio's brightest hours.

AAR was about defending Democrats, about promoting them, covering for them and lying for them.  Given the choice between the AAR programs that refused to note war resisters and hosts including Rachel Maddow who insisted that the Iraq War must continue, people chose to listen to Pacifica.  KPFA, WBAI and others were getting listened to via streaming from all over the country (and all over the world).

They thanked listeners for choosing them over Air America Radio how?

By, in 2007, pimping for Barack Obama -- pimping that continues to this day.

Marc Cooper in his published remarks has nothing to say about that.

He instead insists that it's journalism versus 'quacks' on Pacifica today.

No, ir's not.

For the sake of argument, let's pretend that all non-public affairs shows are "quacks."

Are the public affairs shows journalism?

March 19th was the anniversary of the start of the Iraq War in the US -- for countries to the east of the US, it was March 20th.  So we got coverage, right?

Because Iraq has gotten worse under Barack's leadership.

So we especially should be getting coverage.

KPFA didn't offer coverage.  Iraq was absent on the 19th, on the 20th and on the 21st.

What did we get instead as listeners?

Dennis Bernstein used Flashpoints  not to note Iraq but to offer 'in depth' jabbering about lime disease.  Kris Welch, always one to whore, served up not Iraq but  "women's anatomy and what the right-wing appears to not know."  This type of garbage was true of all the programs.  (Presenting the Democratic Party as the defender of reproductive rights is not just laughable, it's damaging.  Democratic politicians have chipped away -- and are chipping away -- at reproductive rights.  They don't need to be embraced, they need to be called out in the hopes that they'll stop selling out reproductive rights.)

Up Front?  It's a new program which KPFA describes as: "An hour-long news magazine with a strong focus on state and local issues. A statewide collaboration, featuring hard-hitting interviews, debates, and in-depth reporting from journalists working everywhere from Los Angeles to Oakland to Sacramento."

Great, maybe a news program could cover Iraq?


B-b-but, they cover "state and local issues."

Do you know what they covered on those days?

One full show was devoted to an author promoting his new book on the slave trade.  On Friday, they offered a writer promoting her piece on sex workers in Arizona.

None of it was reporting, none of it was journalism, none of it was "state and local issues."

And, in the end, none of it was necessary.

"Pacifica" Radio started in California.

"Pacific" does not refer to the ocean, it refers to the founders belief in pacifism.

They made their name during Vietnam.  After years and years of struggle in the 90s, they found their voice with the Iraq War.

But they walked away from it.  Listen to the embarrassing DC station, for example, where you'll now find anti-war peace activist Verna Avery-Brown playing the part of a disgusting whore.

It's interesting that Norman Solomon, Marc Cooper and David Corn could and did whine about 9-11 truth being on the air.  9-11 effects people lives, it was a tragedy.

Verna?    She devoted a segment to Sarah Palin's 'faked' pregnancy.

Norman didn't call it out, Marc didn't call it out, David didn't call it out.

It was treated as acceptable.

Even though it's not.  Palin didn't fake a pregnancy.  Had she done so, however, it wouldn't rise to the level of journalism but would instead be a personal matter.

But that's the sort whoring Verna does today.  She's a dirty whore for the White House.

Guess what?

Pacifica wasn't created to embrace the power or serve politicians.  The refusal of the network to ditch trash like Verna Avery Brown, the refusal to demand that Pacifica always question power -- regardless of who is in the White House, it goes a long way towards explaining why the listeners have vanished.

And the demise of Pacifica, if it does come to be?  No great loss.

It's become a propaganda outlet for those in power.

Losing it now would be no loss at all.


Note we're not including a kiss ass mentioned in the article for a number of reasons including her role really isn't what the article said.  She's the host of two programs -- not one -- and the second one airs on more than just KPFK.

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