shit hits fan @ pacifica (fwd)

rosaphil (
Thu, 15 Jul 1999 16:57:28 -0400 (EDT)

the end of pacifica as we know it.
i guess the cia has made good on controlling or eradicating all domestic
counter-media...except the net thus far.

aren't they supposed to avoid domestic ops? hrmmm.

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*Better Living Thru Better Living!* *

From: Mitchel Cohen <>

Subject: shit hits fan @ pacifica

Reclaim the Streets NYC -


Below are some exchanges and information on the situation exploding right
now as I write (3 am) at KPFA in Berkeley and WBAI in New York City. I'm
very very glad the Green Party -- both NY and GPUSA -- has taken strong
stands in support of community-sponsored radio and, particularly, in
support of the workers and programmers there. But now, as Andy and others
write, the shit is really hitting the fan (see below). A new level of
militancy and activism is called for. I circulate this just to keep people
posted. We cannot allow the bureaucrats running Pacifica to arrest our
reporters -- who strongly condemned US/NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, among
other positions taken -- and impose their "structural adjustment"/New World
Order on us. Also, Lauren Coodley, who has been terrific in keeping us
informed, asks for help contacting "big name" people who'd support us. Can
anyone help her?

Mitchel Cohen

>From Andy Zimmerman (To Mitchel, Maris & Patty):

Hey, you guys were right! Time to march!

 Tuesday, July 13, 1999
 At this time (8:30 PM PDT, 7/13/99) Guards are acting under
 orders of the Pacifica National Board to clear the KPFA
 building of protesters and ALL STAFF!!
 Dennis Bernstein and Mark Mericle were forcibly removed from the air earlier
 today, inspiring a protest demonstration.  The guards are now acting under
 orders of the Pacifica National Board to remove not only the protesters, but
 also ALL STAFF.  Protesters and staff are being arrested and taken away.
 Let your voice be heard!  Go to the station and protest the incredible
acts of
 the board!  Go and witness democracy disappearing from Pacifica ...

KPFA was yanked off the air during Dennis Bernstein's news 
broadcast tonight. He could be heard live struggling with armed guards 
who were hauling him away. The station has been playing tapes ever since. 
All staff inside the station are being arrested.

This is it! WAR! Lynn Gerry was saying we have to be ready to defend WBAI 
Mitchel writes:

Happy Bastille Day!

I agree totally with Andy. They're trying to take control of our radio
stations and stop our voices from being heard. I'll put my body there too,
and so will a lot of Greens and other friends, I reckon. But, the fucking
union in NY has been the most weak-kneed chicken-shit operation. (Dare I
say that in public? Oh well, it's true, and there it is.) The union COULD
HAVE stopped this thing 3 years ago had its members been willing to defy
the gag rule and take on-the-job action THEN. But no. Good thing we had
Save Our Station, who could see this coming and did what they could to
mobilize folks and keep them informed.

But I'll stand up for Dennis Bernstein anytime, and urge everyone reading
this to do the same. He's a longtime friend and great investigative
reporter (as well as a fellow poet!), who's done a zillion exposes on the
New World Order, the Savings & Loan bailout scam, the Iran-contra cocaine
operations and lots of other critical reports. There may be a call for
people to head down to the studio. Please be prepared to take action. Storm
the Bastille!!!
From: (lauren coodley)

I'm taping messages of support for KPFA staff and community from political
leaders around the country. I need your help in getting some of the big
names of the progressive
movement to recognize the urgency of this crisis. Everyone seems to be on
vacation! I need to get ANY of the following people to tape a l minute
message as soon as I fedex them a machine. They are:  Howard Zinn, Noam
Chomsky, Angela Davis, Jim Hightower, Ramsey Clark, Michael Moore, Ralph
Nader, Ron Kovic.  If you can think of other names, or can help, please
contact me.
Also, I'd like Dan Hamburg and don't have an email or phone number for him.

Mitchel suggests: Harry Belafonte, Ozzie Davis, Ruby Dee


"Even with that data my feeling is that a
more beneficial disposition would be of the New York
signal as there is a smaller subscriber base without the
long and emotional history as the Bay Area, far more
associated value, a similarly dysfunctional staff though
far less effective and an overall better opportunity to
redefine Pacifica going forward. It is simply the more
strategic asset." 
from  Micheal Palmer's 7/12 e-mail to M. F. Berry

The $70 Million Secret Sell-Off

"The primary signal would lend itself to a
quiet marketing scenario of discreet
presentation to logical and qualified

Micheal Palmer, Treasurer-elect on Pacifica national board
in a secret memo to Pacifica national chair Mary Frances
Berry proposing the sale of Pacifica stations KPFA or WBAI

July 13, 1999

Are Pacifica Stations for Sale?

Explosive Pacifica
Memo Raises

Here at CounterPunch we have always predicted that
the end game of Pacifica's national board would the
sale of some or all of the 5-station network's assets,
worth some $300 million. Such a sale would finally
destroy the listener-subscriber basis of this once
progressive radio network.

Latest evidence of the Board's bad faith comes in the
form of an email, purportedly from Micheal Palmer, a
real estate broker in Houston who is treasurer-elect on
the governing board. The text of the memo follows.
Palmer's email to Pacifica national board chair Mary
Frances Berry puts forward a plan to destroy
grassroots opposition and raise money to pay for the
voracious cash needs of the national superstructure by
selling either KPFA, the network's flagship station in
the Bay Area, valued at around $70 million, or WBAI
in New York, probably worth even more. Thus far
Palmer has not responded to CounterPunch's phone
messages left at his office, home and cell phone,
explaining clearly the reason for our calls.

There are a couple puzzling features in the address
panel of the email. Berry's name middle name is
incorrectly spelled, though Micheal is the proper
spelling of Palmer's first name. How can such an
explosive memo be seeing the light of day instead of
remaining locked in Mary Frances Berry's safe? The
truth is ironic and extraordinary. The IGC internet
service provider did a trace and confirms that the email
originated at Micheal Palmer's email account. (Click
here to read the IGC trace of the email's origins.) But it
was sent to the email address of Andrea Buffa, director
of the San Francisco Media Alliance and one of the
protesters on whom Pacifica manager Lynn Chadwick
had conducted a citizen's arrest for demonstrating
outside the Pacifica national offices in Berkeley. Buffa
was arraigned on July 13 directing the attention of the
press to the text of the letter on CounterPunch's
website. (Click here to read press release from the
Media Alliance.) It seems that Palmer in one of the
most momentous Freudian slips in recent memory
managed to direct his email to an active opponent of all
the schemes being hatched by him and Berry.

The memo shows that a small clique on the national
board has been planning all along a strategy which even
many people disapproving of the Berry strategy had
regarded as inconceivable. Here at CounterPunch we
are not in the least surprised. A year ago we were told
by an entirely reliable source that the notion of selling
one of Pacifica's frequencies has long been debated
inside the high command. Four years ago, then Pacifica
national director Pat Scott and others were actively
lobbying for the sale of WBAI's prized frequency on
the New York FM dial, arguing that the proceeds
would in part purchase a less valuable frequency and
be otherwise invested in projects dear to the board's
heart. In sum, the content of Palmer's damning email is
well within the bounds of credibility. Its inadvertent
release promises to raise the Pacifica battle to a new
level and draw in many previous fence sitters in the
struggle against Berry and her clique.

From: Palmer, Micheal @ Houston Galleria,
To: 'Mary Francis Berry',

Hello Dr. Berry,

I salute your fortitude in scheduling a news conference
opportunity in the beloved Bay Area regarding one of
the most pressing issues of our time............

But seriously, I was under the impression there was
support in the proper quarters, and a definite majority,
for shutting down that unit and re-programming
immediately. Has that changed? Is there consensus
among the national staff that anything other than that is
acceptable/bearable? I recall Cheryl saying that the
national staff wanted to know with certitude that they
supported 100% by the Board in whatever direction
was taken; what direction is being taken?

As an update for you and Lynn I spoke with the only
radio broker I know last week and his research shows
$750,000-$1.25m for KPFB. There would be a very
"shallow pool" of buyers for a repeater signal such as
this and it would be difficult to do a marketing effort
quietly due to the shortage of buyers. So there is no
profound latent value to that asset. The primary signal
would lend itself to a quiet marketing scenario of
discreet presentation to logical and qualified buyers.
This is the best radio market in history and while public
companies may see a dilutive effect from a sale (due to
the approximate 12 month repositioning effort needed),
they would still be aggressive for such a signal. Private
media companies would be the most aggressive in
terms of price, which he thinks could be in the
$65-75m range depending on various aspects of a deal.
It would be possible to acquire other signals in the area,
possibly more than one, to re-establish operations, but
it could take a few years to complete if we want to
maximize proceeds from the initial license transfer, or
leave only $10-20m in arbitrage gain when purchase(s)
is complete. None of this reflects tax consequences.
This broker, just like any other that would undertake
such an effort, would need certain agreements in place
prior to starting.

Mary I think any such transfer we would ever consider
requires significant analysis, not so much regarding a
decision to go forward, but how to best undertake the
effort and to deploy the resulting capital with the least
amount of tax, legal and social disruption. I believe the
Finance Committee will undertake a close review of
the Audigraphics data provided recently to determine
what it is costing us per listener, per subscriber, per
market, per hour of order give the
Executive Director and the General Managers
benchmarks for improvement. Even with that data my
feeling is that a more beneficial disposition would be of
the New York signal as there is a smaller subscriber
base without the long and emotional history as the Bay
Area, far more associated value, a similarly
dysfunctional staff though far less effective and an
overall better opportunity to redefine Pacifica going
forward. It is simply the more strategic asset.

With this in mind I would encourage frank description
of the realities of the media enviornment we operate in
and of Pacifica's available resources to participate and
have impact in the evolving media world. The
Executive Committee, at a minimum, should have
access to experts (whether from Wall Street,
NPR/CPB, Microsoft or otherwise) to get a strong
reality check (me included) about radio and Pacifica's
position in it so that informed decisions can be made.
My feeling is that we are experiencing a slow financial
death which is having the normal emotional outbursts
commensurate with such a disease. We will continually
experience similar events, in fact we have been
experiencing similar events over the past several years,
primarily because we are not self supporting through
subscriber contributions and have a self imposed
constraint on asset redeployment that leaves us cash
starved at a time when our industry is being propelled
in new directions, each requiring capital outlays of
consequence. We're boxed in at our own will. This
board needs to be educated, quickly, and to take action
that will be far more controversial that the KPFA
situation. How can we get there?

So, now I've exhaled more than I should, but you
know where I'm at. Let's do something.


For more information on Pacifica visit these sites:

This is the self-description of the armed guards now patrolling KPFA.
Reporter Wendell Harper was manhandled and interrogated by them and
discovered that they are operating in an illegal manner by not wearing
uniforms and identification and carrying concealed weapons. here's how they
describe themselves:


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Last week's email from Mitchel, with demands (some of you may not have seen

The reason I've sent so many Pacifica-related posts is that things are
happening very quickly, and we can WIN this. We can defend "free speech
radio" and reverse the corporatizing tide if we act now! The Pacifica Nat'l
Board meeting is TODAY, Saturday, in Washington DC. The correct fax numbers
are: FAX: (202) 293-3173 or FAX: (202) 785-2411. Phone: (202) 857-3388  (to
leave voice mail). Key board members to contact are: Mary Frances Berry,
June Makela,William Lucy, Micheal Palmer and Ken Ford. Please fax or call
this morning -- over 1,000 listeners have apparently done so already, and

1) Reinstatement of Larry Bensky and Robbie Osman, who were fired from KPFA
for breaking the "gag rule" -- that is, for their free speech on air -- and
of director Nicole Sawaya.

2) Removal of Lynn Chadwick for firing them, and for arresting listeners
who were demonstrating outside KPFA offices in Berkeley. (She put them
under "citizen's arrest" when the police refused to arrest them.)

3) Outrage at Pacifica's decision to turn over 2,000 listener letters and
email to the authorities, subjecting innocent listeners who mailed their
complaints to THEIR radio station in confidence, to police and possibly FBI
investigation and possible harrassment. Whatever happened to journalistic

4) Support for the KPFA staff, and for workers' rights at WBAI, to define
their union membership and regulations any way they see fit -- i.e.,
inclusive of part-timers and full-timers -- which WBAI workers won before
the National Labor Relations Board, but which Mary Frances Berry on behalf
of the Pacifica board has been appealing, WITH OUR PLEDGE MONEY!

5) Support for decentralized, community-based programming, AS WELL AS for
Amy Goodman and her fine show, Democracy Now, which is under constant
attack for being too radical.

6) Power to local boards elected by the listeners and workers at the
station to make decisions, and to a democratically selected national board,
instead of the self-selected one we have now.

The first three points are especially crucial right now. If we win them,
the tide will be turned and we will hopefully go on to win the others.

Please add the name of whatever group to which you belong to your fax and
phone calls.

All power to the People!

Mitchel Cohen, for the
Red Balloon Collective
and as a member of the Brooklyn Greens,
Green Party of New York, and
Greens / Green Party USA

Below is a sample letter to Pacifica I received from my Oakland pal, Chris
Kinder ( Chris had helped organize the successful west
coast dockworkers one-day shutdown Apr. 24 to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mitchel --

The following is a fax/email I've been sending to all Pacifica Board
members. I've been going to the demonstrations, though I missed the one
with the arrests.  However, I have the live recording of the confrontation
and arrests taken off Flashpoints the next day.  Interesting. I can run you
a copy if you want it. (


Your manager's actions with regard to KPFA are a violation of that station's 
entire pioneering record as the first media outlet dedicated to free speech, 
community control and listener sponsorship.

Who is Lynn Chadwick, to fire long-time KPFA programmers such as Larry 
Bensky and Robbie Osman, or the effective and successful manager Nicole 
Sawaya?  What gives Chadwick or the Board the right to censor news and 
commentaries on KPFA or Pacifica airwaves?

Your corporate arrogance, and apparent plans to turn Pacifica into another 
NPR, complete with private corporate underwriting, are NOT WANTED by KPFA's 
listeners, subscribers or staff. What gives the Pacifica Board the right to 
change KPFA and other Pacifica stations into a new version of NPR?   
Subscribers overwhelmingly rejected your actions in the recent fund drive, 
by subscribing under protest of Chadwick's actions.

We need stations that will stand up to the lies of the ruling class and
fight back. NPR caves in to its corporate sponsorship. We need stations 
that play Mumia Abu-Jamal's commentaries. NPR cancelled them. We need more 
anti-militarist, pro-working class and labor programming on Pacifica, not 

We need the Pacifica Board to stop meddling with community radio.  FIRE 

fully responsible to its REAL owners -- the listeners, subscribers and staff!

--Chris Kinder, member of Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal 
(speaking as individual)


Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Alejandrina Torres, Ray Luc Levasseur!

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