Confidential #10 – 5/10/05

Bulletin #10
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Please feel free to distribute.
www.struggle-and-win.net

IN THIS BULLETIN:

1. KPFA Program Council votes to return Bill Mandel to the air.
2. Violent response to Program Council decision on Mandel.
3. Larry Pinkney, former Black Panther and Republic of New Africa leader,
writes about Mandel.
4. Democracy Now! time change stuck in limbo.
5. Trouble in Texas: KPFT downgrades public affairs programming.
6. Pacifica ED Dan Couglin resigns:
Committee of men to conduct search for his successor.
7. Larry Bensky’s slot filled with nearly-all male guests.
8. Next Local Station Board meeting: Saturday, May 21.

 

1. KPFA Program Council votes to return Bill Mandel to the air.

On Tuesday evening, May 3, KPFA’s Program Council voted to end the 10-year banishment of Bill Mandel and give him back a regular program. The show is to be called “Thinking Out Loud with Bill Mandel.” This is a tremendous victory for free speech at KPFA and Pacifica. Now it is up to General Manager Roy Campanella II to implement the decision of the Program Council.

The Program Council vote took place in the wake of a picket line by a spirited crowd of Mandelistas in front of KPFA’s studios on Saturday, April 30. That was ten years to-the-day that Mandel had been thrown off the air. The pickets carried signs such as “10 Years, Basta!” and “Free Speech Radio? Where’s Bill?” while chanting “Bill Got the Sack! Now Bring Him Back!” The picket was reported on KPFA’s Saturday evening news, the first such public acknowledgment the station has made of the revived campaign to return Mandel to the air. Pictures of the picket line can be found at www.struggle-and-win.net/13201/3780.html.

2. Violent response to Program Council decision on Mandel.

After the Program Council vote, according to witnesses, a staff member who was on the losing side of the vote, angered at Mandel’s reinstatement, began throwing metal chairs around the room, which hit at least one other member of the Program Council. He then hit another member of the Program Council in the chest at least three times. General Manager Roy Campanella II was present during this violent melee. Although the out-of-control staff member was eventually restrained, he remained in the station after the meeting ended. It is unknown whether or not any disciplinary action has been initiated. In most workplaces, such action would lead to immediate termination.

3. Larry Pinkney, former Black Panther and Republic of New Africa leader,
writes about Mandel.

Larry Pinkney says that he literally owes his life to Bill Mandel. In a pair of letters, Pinkney explains that Mandel used his program in 1983 to expose an attempt by California prison officials to incite a prison riot. Pinkney credits Mandel’s exposé with preventing the riot and saving numerous lives, including his own. He is at pains to point out that Mandel had to struggle with the KPFA news department for over a week to get them to cover the story.

Pinkney, a former member of the Black Panther Party as well as the former Minister of Interior for the Republic of New Africa, also lauds Mandel and his late wife for physically placing their bodies between “murderous cops” and the Black Panther Party office in Berkeley/Oakland. “This was not chump rhetoric, BS, or some other form of intellectual masturbation: This was Mandel placing his life on the line for the struggle, and in this case, on behalf of Black people!” Pinkney’s two letters are online, at www.struggle-and-win.net/13201/43280.html, along with some relevant excerpts from Mandel’s book, Saying No To Power, at
www.struggle-and-win.net/13201/43480.html.

4. Democracy Now! time change stuck in limbo.

Confidential previously reported that General Manager Roy Campanella II first indicated his willingness to make the Democracy Now! time change mandated by the Program Council and the Local Station Board, and that he then seemed to back off. Here is Campanella’s latest explanation for his failure, in his own words, sent by email to a listener: “Yes, I would also like to have KPFA broadcast Democracy Now! at 7 AM… However, at this time, such a scheduling change does not have the necessary organizational support to be successful… In essence, I agree with you about the need for a time change for Democracy Now! but don’t think it will happen in the near future.” And I thought that Campanella was the General Manager.

5. Trouble in Texas: KPFT downgrades public affairs programming.

The management of Pacifica’s Houston, Texas station, KPFT, recently moved several popular public affairs programs to less-accessible times. Democracy Now!, the flagship public affairs program of the Pacifica network, was moved from its 7:00 AM drive-time slot to 9:00 AM. The 7:00 AM slot was given to Morning Mix, formerly called Songs of Texas. Flashpoints, produced here in Berkeley, was moved from 7:00 PM to an obscure 11:00 PM slot. And Free Speech Radio News was moved from 5:00 PM to 3:00 PM. “The ‘business-style management’ forces have joined with the ‘music entertainment’ forces and appear to have retaken the station,” says Hep Ingham, a former member of the KPFT interim Local Advisory Board.

6. Pacifica ED Dan Couglin resigns:
Committee of men to conduct search for his successor.

Pacifica Executive Director Dan Coughlin, under fire for failing to provide the board with financial records that by some accounts bordered on insubordination, announced his resignation at the last Pacifica National Board (PNB) meeting in April. Citing family concerns, Coughlin stated that he would leave in June at the latest.

The PNB formed a committee to conduct a search for a new Executive Director, picking five men for the committee. One of the five felt uncomfortable with the lack of women, so he gave up his seat to a woman. The PNB then added five more men. That makes nine men, one woman. It seems that the PNB is flunking Gender Politics 101.

7. Larry Bensky’s slot filled with nearly-all male guests.

It seems that KPFA management is taking its cue from the PNB on gender politics. Larry Bensky is on extended leave due to a medical condition, and his two-hour Sunday Salon has been filled with, well, all men. The one exception was Amelia Gonzalez, KPFA’s new Arts and Public Affairs Director, on May Day. At least the men selected for the Sunday Salon slot were community folks. I guess there aren’t any qualified women outside of KPFA’s studios.

8. Next Local Station Board meeting: Saturday, May 21.

Although I have tried repeatedly, month after month, to get KPFA management to webcast Local Station Board (LSB) meetings, it has been to no avail. The meetings have largely become a farce, a mere facade of democracy, with little real work or debate happening. It seems that the powers-that-be don’t want that known to the listening audience. Still, it never hurts to come on down and voice your outrage at the current bout of shenanigans and insults to the very meaning of Pacifica.

The next meeting will be Saturday, May 21, at 11:00 AM, at the
Freight and Salvage, 1111 Addison (off San Pablo), in Berkeley.