- Subject: A "truth emergency" over censorship
at Pacifica's flagship station
- By implementing early December budget and staff cuts,
KPFA's management targeted its award-winning Flashpoints Radio for extinction,
sullied the name of its founder, Lew Hill, and defiled fundamental First
Amendment freedoms without which no others are possible.
- On April 15, 1949, Hill went on the air saying: "This
is KPFA, listener-sponsored radio in Berkeley" and launched America's
first independent, listener-supported, "people's radio" as a
sanctuary for free speech, dissent, alternative voices, social justice,
and human dignity unlike anything previously heard.
- Unless reversed, management's decision will deprive listeners
in 30 US cities, and online globally, of some of the most vital and respected
programming anywhere - thanks to the heroic work of Dennis Bernstein, Nora
Barrows-Friedman, and the entire Flashpoints team, dedicated to providing
accurate, in-depth coverage of the most-cutting edge issues with an array
of distinguished guests.
- Bernstein calls cutting 30% of its annual budget "a
political battle. Management has pumped up (their internal supporters')
budgets, and at the same time tried to kill Flashpoints through intimidation
and attrition, and outright disrespect. (Now management) is about to deal
the show a final blow," one as well to Pacifica's founding purpose
and stated mission to:
- -- "to gather and disseminate information on the
causes of conflict between any and all....nations, races, creeds and colors;"
- -- "promote the study of political and economic
problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms;"
- -- distribute public information fully, accurately, objectively,
and comprehensibly "on all matters vitally affecting the community."
- Hill believed Berkeley was the best place to do it because
of the university and its diversity of people, hopefully as committed as
he was. He and others worked from 1946 - 1949, recruited the staff, raised
the money, got a license, and began broadcasting "sounds that (would)
change the world," ones now threatened with extinction.
- Several years ago, I contacted Bernstein, spoke to him
at length, thanked him for his work, expressed my support, sent a check
directed solely for Flashpoints, then learned it was used otherwise - without
my knowledge or consent.
- Today's action is the latest betrayal - attempting to
silence the very best, what Lew Hill would be proud of, and what listeners
greatly value and respect, Hill's idea that:
- "The people who actually do the broadcasting should
also be responsible for what and why they broadcast. In short, they must
control the policy which determines their actions. Whatever else may happen,
we thus assign to the participating individual the responsibility, artistic
integrity, freedom of expression, and the like, which in conventional radio
are normally denied him. KPFA is operated literally on this principle,"
and he meant never to corrupt it.
- He believed in pacifism, non-violence, and free expression,
and wanted programming to feature it during the height of the McCarthy
era's witch-hunts against voices on the left, ones he called "subversives,
loyalty risks, unpatriotic, (and) card-carrying communists" to target
the innocent and silent dissent - a spirit revived by KPFA's management
in defiance of Hill's legacy, and a betrayal of a loyal audience's trust.
- Democracy requires a free, open, vibrant and diverse
media, elements losing out to management's decision to make KPFA a force
for oligarchy, not free expression and social justice.
- Support Flashpoints Radio, its co-hosts and staff.
- Email KPFA General Manager Lemlem Rijio at email@example.com.
- Demand the announced staff and budget cuts be reversed,
and tell others to do the same thing. It's our media, our choice, and our
responsibility to support the right of free people to be informed - fully,
openly, and accurately by heroic hosts like Bernstein, Barrows-Friedman,
and others like them doing what good journalists should - their job.
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre
for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday
at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished
guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy