[News] Support Programmers of Color at KPFA

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 4 10:04:16 EDT 2010


Please send in letters of support of people of color and diverse 
programming at KPFA to:

Arlene Engelhardt/Pacifica's Executive Director     arlene at pacifica.org
and
Ahmad Anderson/KPFA Interim Manager     ahmad at pacifica.org



November 1, 2010

TO:     KPFA Listeners/Supporters

FROM:   Programmers of Color/KPFA

RE:   KPFA Programming for Communities of Color/Diverse Communities

Throughout its more than 61 years of existence KPFA has served as an 
outlet for diverse communities whose voices otherwise would not have 
access to the medium of radio and especially listener sponsored 
radio. The formation of the Third World Department in 1973 came after 
a bitter strike and walkout by programmers who felt that the voices 
of their diverse communities were not being represented at KPFA. The 
strike and lockout of 1999 was directly responsible for the 
establishment of both Apex Express (focusing on the Asian Community) 
and Hard Knock Radio     (a drive-time hip-hop talk show). These 
programs represented the culmination of months of struggle that 
included demonstrations, arrests, and meetings by KPFA supporters.

We are all painfully aware that KPFA is currently undergoing both 
financial and program challenges that threaten to dramatically affect 
the type of programming and staff that is part of KPFA radio. These 
challenges will require that the KPFA paid and unpaid staff work 
together as hard as possible to ensure the survival and growth of 
listener sponsored KPFA radio. The programs and programmers that 
represent diverse communities and communities of color can play a 
crucial role in  engaging new listeners and broadening the base of KPFA.

As programmers and staff of color who represent diverse communities 
we are very concerned that programming and staffing decisions will be 
made without the type of transparent dialogue that best ensures our 
collective unity, survival, and  growth of the radio station.  The 
use of radio rating systems (Arbitron) to assess the listenership of 
KPFA programs, especially those that might have a larger appeal to 
diverse communities, is flawed and not in the best interest of the 
growth and mission of KPFA. It also gives validity to a system that 
was summarily sued by Attorney Generals in several states including 
NY and Florida and by urban outlets from all over the country because 
it has not reflected the diversity and full impact of minority 
communities. Why would KPFA , of all stations, use such a tool with a 
shoddy reputation? Flawed radio rating systems are not an effective 
tool to evaluate or build our audiences and programming.

The attempts to arbitrarily change the 7PM weekday time slot and the 
attempts to eliminate the host of Transitions on Traditions are 
specific examples of unhealthy and undemocratic process. We are 
alarmed that other major changes are being proposed that will 
eliminate programmers of color without a process where the 
programmer, a program council, union, or any other internal KPFA body 
would be involved in the decision process. The potential elimination 
of Hard Knock Radio is a political insult to our communities and the 
mission of Pacifica Radio. Hard Knock Radio has existed for more than 
a decade as the most prominent program addressing the hip hop 
generation and underserved communities. Its outstanding reputation is 
both national and international.

The programmers of color who work at KPFA have long standing contacts 
in the broader community and had have worked and supported KPFA in a 
variety of capacities. We are concerned that program changes, for 
diverse programmers of color, are being proposed and made as KPFA is 
in the process of selecting a new General Manager and installing a 
new local station board.

The programs that speak to our diverse communities include a wide 
range of public affairs, music, arts, and news programs. These 
programs and their hosts provide multi-dimensional programs that 
include music, interviews, analysis, news updates, and direct 
participation by our local and national communities. Programs such as 
Point of Departure, Africa Today, Transitions on Traditions, Music of 
the World, and the Women's Magazine will be essential if we are to 
grow and build a new audience. An inclusive process that takes 
advantage of the wealth of skills and contacts that we have at the 
station will be essential to strengthening the station to all of our 
best interests. These programs are NOT simply music programs or 
single issue focus programs but represent in the broadest sense 
programs that reflect the diversity of the KPFA listening community. 
As we consider the "aging out" of public radio we need to use all 
available tools to strengthen our collective mission.

The voices of our diverse communities of color and gender should not 
fall prey to untransparent and undemocratic programming dialogues and 
thus face exclusion and elimination that would ignore the long 
history of the need for our voices to be represented on the 
airways.  KPFA and Pacifica must continue to be one outlet of media 
that is cognizant of the issues of race, gender, and underrepresented 
communities. The best method for achieving this goal is to have a 
transparent, inclusive, and honest set of processes that is 
respectful of our diverse communities and our collective struggle as 
a radio station.

Under no circumstance should we see these diverse voices as 
expendable or less valued in our process of 
"restructuring."  Management proposed syndicated programs, however 
excellent, cannot replace these voices, which are deeply connected to 
grassroots struggles of underrepresented and marginalized communities 
in the Bay Area. Our communities have fought for, sacrificed for, and 
worked hard for KPFA, and the station's budget must not be balanced 
on their backs. They deserve and demand to be represented fairly and 
honestly. If we are to stand on principles of diversity and 
anti-racism then those voices and those communities need to be 
treated with respect on KPFA/Pacifica airways.




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