New Pacifica National Board chair Margy Wilkinson appeared on KPFK’s Truthdig Radio today with Peter Z. Scheer. “There are real governance issues,” she of the network. “Pacifica is not highly functioning…. change is needed,” she said, adding that “most agree with that.”
“Right now way the national is functioning is not that helpful to the local stations,” said Wilkinson. She advocated for decentralization and greater autonomy at local stations, and encouraged listeners to find out more at their local Pacifica radio staton by volunteering.
When Pacifica National Board chair (and SaveKPFA activist) Margy Wilkinson assumed executive powers after the termination of Summer Reese, she promised listeners and staff that she didn’t want the job, wouldn’t accept pay, and would work to get a qualified professional in as soon as possible. This week, she delivered. Pacifica has announced that KPFK former station manager Bernard Duncan has been hired as interim executive director while a search in under way for a permanent replacement.
Duncan has extensive experience in radio and television broadcasting, including years in management positions, according to Pacifica’s website. “Bernard Duncan knows his way around this organization, cares about Pacifica’s Mission, and he’s worked everywhere from behind a microphone to inside the executive offices,” said Wilkinson. “What Pacifica needs right now is a skilled manager who can hit the ground running, and I’m very pleased Bernard’s taken us on.”
Progress: Pacifica going multimedia
Sonali Kolhatkar, a contributor to KPFA’s UpFront and host of Uprising at KPFK in Los Angeles, is fundraising for an ambitious new multimedia project that could have her following in the footsteps of Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman. She has secured a deal to distribute her program nationally via the satellite channel Free Speech TV. This will raise Pacifica’s profile in areas where its combined signals currently do not reach, and could create a multimedia production model for other stations in the network to follow.
Currently, KPFK is running an online fundraising campaign for the money needed to install professional-quality video equipment, which will then be available to any KPFK programmers who want to make use of it. If successful, the campaign will turn KPFK’s studios into a multimedia production facility right in the middle of Los Angeles — a place with access to filmmakers, celebrities, and grassroots organizers on the cutting edge of struggles for immigrants’ rights and environmental justice. The best part of this online fundraising campaign is that it will not intrude on KPFK’s normal programming, like a pledge drive. The donation page is here. The campaign has already raised $5,000 online in its first few days — if you can, help out!
[UPDATE 4/9/14 @10:05 am: The national board minority’s attempt to get a Temporary Restraining Order to allow Reese to keep her job has been DENIED by the Alameda County Superior Court. More news as we have it.]
Pacifica’s former interim executive director, Summer Reese, remains barricaded in her former office, which she broke into with bolt cutters four days after the elected Pacifica National Board voted 11-7 to end her employment. In violation of California law, she’s still illegally blocking elected members of Pacifica’s Board of Directors from entering the premises to look at financial records.
Over the past week, Reese made moves to sabotage Pacifica’s funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by complaining to the organization’s Inspector General about financial problems that either took place while she was running the organization, or that she failed to fix during her tenure. Reese has also signed a lengthy declaration as part of vague, rambling lawsuit against Pacifica brought by her supporters on the national board (Carolyn Birden, Janet Coleman, Heather Gray, Kim Kaufman, Luzette King, Janet Kobren, Janis Lane-Ewart, Manijeh Saba and Richard Uzzell).
Not coincidentally, on the day those board members filed suit against Pacifica, they also filibustered a meeting of the Pacifica National Board that was intended to retain counsel for the foundation — an apparent attempt to sabotage the foundation’s ability to defend itself. National board members reported that the litigants were so disruptive in the closed portion of the meeting that they prevented the board from even approving its agenda before its mandatory adjournment time.
Terminated interim executive Summer Reese and her supporters have been generating prodigious amounts of misinformation, from wild allegations of corruption that she never raised before her termination, to breathless reports of police interventions that never actually occurred. The treasurer of the KPFA local station board has released a statement rebutting Reese’s charges of financial improprieties. All of KPFA’s financial information is publicly available.
What you can do: Join the over 600 Pacifica network staff and listeners who have signed this open letter demanding Summer Reese leave peacefully. Signatories include former Pacifica National Affairs correspondent Larry Bensky, community activist Ying Lee, KPFA’s UpFront’sBrian Edwards-Tiekert, former Pacifica board chair Sherry Gendelman, KPFA’s Aileen Alfandary, labor journalist David Bacon, Alameda County School superintendent Sheila Jordan, KPFA’s Philip Maldari, former KPFA GM Jim Bennett and former KPFA iGM Andrew Phillips.
Comments by petition signers have been pointed. Listener Benjamin Balthaser wrote, “I am embarrassed by the actions of Reese and hope the station returns to its mission of providing critical and informative programming.” Lee Block wrote, “Pretty selfish of you to bring down the whole network because you feel dissed. You’re as bad as a Koch Brother.”
“This destructive behavior serves no purpose,” noted listener Saraswathi Devi. Listener and Free Speech Movement activist Lynne Hollander Savio captured the conclusion many observers have reached: “Unbelievable behavior, which just confirms the wisdom of the Board’s decision.” You can add your own name and comments here. | DOWNLOAD PDF FLYER OF OPEN LETTER