Calling Pacifica Radio ‘left-wing’ is if anything an understatement. It’s like calling Code Pink anti-war or the Nazis ‘meanies’. Radio that falls just short of actually blowing things up to usher in the People’s Republic might be a better description. And things at Pacifica are going about as well as you would expect. (via Maggie’s Farm)
Pacifica has a long and storied history, and still features such leading liberals as Amy Goodman, the widely known host of Democracy Now! (on which journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill are frequent guests), but it has fallen on hard times of late. Listenership, according Reese, is “extraordinarily low.” During an average 15-minute period, just 700 people listen to its Los Angeles station, 90.7 FM KPFK, for at least five minutes, according to Nielsen Audio, which monitors radio ratings.
And most of those people don’t even speak English.
Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI, is even worse off, with too few listeners to register on the Arbitron rankings, and is all but bankrupt. Last year, most of the staff was laid off, including the entire news department.
When your only news is that America is a fascist state that hates brown people, you don’t need a news department.
Making matters worse, the federal government, via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is withholding Pacifica’s grant money, thanks to the network’s “failure to provide documentation” for a 2012 audit.
That’s right, they get government money. How else do you think they function?
The national board is dominated by two factions: the new majority, which Masters calls the “Radio Havana crowd,” and the new minority, which Masters dubs the “conspiracy and quackery crowd” — the latter group in 2010 approved a motion calling for all KPFK programs to question the “official story” of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Commies vs. 9/11 Truthers. It’s like the Syrian Civil War, but sadly neither side is using guns. Yet.
A Pacifica fund drive sounds like a never-ending infomercial for products created by a lunatic.
Take, for example, a five-DVD set titled “The Great Lies of History,” which includes five documentaries by Italian filmmaker Massimo Mazzucco: The Second Dallas; The New American Century; UFOs and the Military Elite; The True History of Marijuana; and Cancer: The Forbidden Cures. Cancer features Dr. Tullio Simoncini, an Italian doctor who claims to treat cancer with baking soda.
Darn that anti-science right. Will they never learn? Quickly, let’s talk about the Creationist Museum before anyone starts paying attention to what the left really is.
Get-rich-quick schemes such as the “Wealth Propulsion Challenge,” an online course that promotes “how to get rich holistically” — and quickly — via “subconscious reprogramming.”
“Meanwhile, I’m supposed to talk all this happy talk — ‘We’re a great station! We don’t take corporate money!’ ” Ian Masters says glumly. “It’s a moral issue. We’re ripping off the public.”
Think of it as cutting out the corporate middle man and ripping off the public directly. It’s locally grown fraud.
Much of the money raised in a recent WBAI fund drive came from Gary Null and Monique Guild, a so-called “business intuitive and wealth builder,” who was hawking “prosperity workshops.” Various sources estimate that Guild and Null take between 30 and 50 percent of the money paid for these “premiums” — the gifts and items they sell to listener-supporters. Many suggest this may actually be illegal, since Pacifica is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
It’s the left. A non-profit means that only the people involved make money while taxpayers pay for it.
Board elections cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 — no small price for a network with a $13 million annual budget. The meetings themselves cost about $20,000 each to fly in 20-plus people and put them up for the weekend, and they’re dominated by bickering. Members regularly invoke Robert’s Rules of Order, and can take half an hour simply to approve the minutes of a previous meeting.
That sounds like counter-revolutionary sabotage. Or just Marxist business as usual. Gotta check the privilege of the previous notes. And check your punctuality privilege.
Chadwick, to everyone’s amazement, shut down KPFA in Berkeley, had the staff removed by armed guards, cut the live transmitter feed and replaced it with archived shows from Pacifica. The first substituted content was Bus Riders Union founder Eric Mann giving a Marxist analysis of the 1960s.
Protests erupted. No fewer than three lawsuits were filed against the Pacifica board. Ten thousand people marched in Berkeley. Left-wing activists and commentators nationwide, including Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, rushed to KPFA’s defense.
By now the revolution had spread. Cooper remembers walking up to the KPFK offices on Cahuenga Boulevard near Universal Studios, past a crowd of elderly protesters — “professional bottom-door activists with no life and nothing to do,” he calls them — who accused Cooper of being an agent for the CIA. One sign read, “More activists, less authors.” Cooper says: “That’s about one step removed from Pol Pot. It’s like, ‘Let’s kill everyone with glasses.’ ”
It’s like the rise of the Bolsheviks but with no one to man the firing squads or the dungeons. Except maybe Amy Goodman.
”Amy Goodman’s an evil bitch.” -Marc Cooper, former news director at KPFK
Within a few months, Democracy Now! was privatized. In what may have been a reward for Amy Goodman’s support of the revolution, she was handed complete ownership of the show. For free. In fact, they paid her to take it, handing Goodman a contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — and gave her an automatic 4 percent raise every year, regardless of the size of her listenership or the money she raised.
According to former board member Tracy Rosenberg, Goodman now gets fees of around $650,000 for the right to air her show and for her fundraising services. Rosenberg says: “When you go to business school, they tell you that’s how not to sign a contract.”
Today, Pacifica’s debts amount to roughly $3 million; $2 million of that is owed to Democracy Now!, which is also the name of an independent nonprofit run by Goodman.
“These [were] brownshirts,” Cooper says. “And Amy was their leader and she knew it. And I told that to her face: She can fool a lot of people a lot of the time, but I know she’s a thug.”
The conclusion to the article could have been written by me.
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.
Pacifica is only a reflection of that shift. It’s still far to the left of anything else in mass media, and still gives voice to beliefs and ideas found outside the mainstream (way outside).
That core ideology hasn’t changed; America has.
“If this goes under, anyone to the left of NPR will have nowhere to go,” Masters says.