Sunday, March 12, 2005
Please feel free to distribute.
For info about Bill Mandel, and to sign the petition demanding his return to KPFA’s airwaves, see www.billmandel.net.
ALERT for MARCH 19:
The March 8 International Women’s Day March in San Francisco included a contingent of 23 people, each holding a sign identifying a country that the US has bombed since 1945, inspired by recent anti-Bush demonstrators in Belgium. To join this contingent at the March 19 “NO TO WAR and OCCUPATION!” protest in San Francisco, meet at 11:15 AM in front of Mission High School, 18th Street, between Dolores and Church. To see photos of the International Women’s Day contingent, click here. To see photos of the Belgian demonstrators, click here.
Long-term KPFA/Pacifica activists Bob English and Linda Hewitt wrote me recently about the state of KPFA. “Obviously too many of us dropped out too soon without completing the revolution.” Justice is a constant struggle.
Thirteen “Mandelistas” (as San Francisco Chronicle’s Leah Garchik called us) marched into KPFA last Monday, March 7, to deliver a petition to the new General Manager, Roy Campanella II, demanding the return to the air of the popular Pacifica programmer, Bill Mandel. Bill was unceremoniously thrown off the air in 1995 for violating a gag order against airing news of the struggle over KPFA’s political direction.
When the delegation got to KPFA, Campanella wasn’t there. He claims he “forgot” about the appointment and booked another obligation.
Mandelista Jack Heyman, from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), brought alive the slogan from the civil rights movement that “justice delayed is justice denied.” Bill is 87 years old and this struggle has been going on for a decade. Basta!
(Bill, Gerald Sanders, Jack Heyman and Henry Norr)
This is how Leah Garchik describes the state of the campaign in her column on March 10, 2005:
“The following appeared in Herb Caen’s column 10 years ago:
“‘As you may have heard, KPFA’s left-winging McCarthy-defying political commentator, William Mandel, has been fired, justlikethat, after 38 years, and such prominent lib/rads as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, David Brower and journalist Alexander Cockburn are protesting loudly, to no avail…’
“That ‘no avail’ turns out to have been true, but old lefties don’t give up on matters of principle. A petition to the station’s general manager, Roy Campanella II, demanding Mandel’s return, was presented on Monday. Ten years is a long time to be collecting signatures, and the signers list now includes Daniel Ellsberg, Pete Seeger, Ed Asner, Tillie Olson and the three mentioned above, except it’s now the late David Brower.
“Campanella wasn’t at the station when the 13 Mandelistas (including 87-year-old Mandel, ‘smiling ear to ear,’ said my spy) arrived. They demanded that the station agree to Mandel’s return by April 4 (or else more petitioning, I guess). Power to the people.”
I would add that Power to the People, here, means power to the listeners. The delegation gave notice that we expect to hear Bill back on the air within a month, April 4, or to receive a written statement from Campanella telling us when he will be returned.
(Riva and Bill)
Last Tuesday, the day after our delegation, the Program Council met and tabled the issue. There will be three more Program Council meetings, every Tuesday evening, before the month is up.
I can guarantee you that we Mandelistas have much more in mind than “more petitioning” if Bill isn’t returned to the air pronto.
The Mandelistas in the delegation, in addition to Jack Heyman and myself, included Maria Gilardin, Henry Norr, Jean Pauline, Richard Phelps, Les Radke, Gerald Sanders, James E. Vann, Doris Brin Walker, Stan Woods, Steve Zeltzer and Saul Zeltzer. The event was filmed by Bill Carpenter.
(Bill and James E. Vann)
Bill Carpenter has produced an edited version of his recording of the delegation. It is exciting to watch. If you have Quicktime, it can be downloaded in three segments, at: www.indybay.org/uploads/1mandel21.mov, www.indybay.org/uploads/2mandel21.mov,
KPFA news co-anchor Mark Mericle, who had received a press release about the event, looked into the room with the 13-member delegation, and left, not considering it newsworthy. Nor did staff members at the station feel it was important enough to record for Campanella’s benefit.
Many delegates expressed disappointment that Campanella did not meet with the delegation as he had agreed to. Many commented that Bill is a symbol of resistance to state repression, as relevant now as ever in US history. He is also a symbol of Pacifica’s continued refusal to follow its mission. It’s time to demand that we hear Bill as a “voice of the voiceless.” This issue won’t be going away, and neither will we. Stay tuned.
(Doris Brin Walker, Jack Heyman and Maria Gilardin)
San Rafael, CA:
“As a former President of Pacifica I strongly endorse the return of Bill Mandel to the air. There are three good reasons:
1) what he knows and has to say;
2) as a symbol of the end of the ‘bad old days’ of Pacifica; and
3) as an acknowledgment that our elders have a lot to contribute.”
“There is a growing movement of discontent among the populace with the quality and integrity of American media content, in particular the gentrification and ‘dumbing down’ of public radio. I would like to see KPFA as a station committed to its listenership and the proliferation of independent thought and debate, not the promotion of it or its executives’ personal or political views. Please return Bill Mandel to the air.”
“What on earth has been KPFA’s problem for all this time? The very existence of this campaign to get Mandel back on the air speaks volumes as to the station management’s disrespect for one of the great political figures of our time. Get him back on YESTERDAY already!”
Dr. Eric MacPherson
“I urge the valiant Mr. Mandel’s immediate reinstatement to this Pacifica affiliate. Not to do so is sustaining an abomination and caricature of your professed commitment to free expression in the face of an encroaching purge of non-commercial thought.”
Prof. Joel D, Eis
“After having listened to KPFA since 1965, I can say, unequivocally, that the current fear and confusion behind many recent decisions at KPFA reflects the reasons why Americans do not respect liberals, generally. If you’re going to go down, don’t turn yourself into a weak and pale reflection of who and what you are. Keep the Golden Voice and insightful commentary of Bill Mandel at KPFA right where it is. You all need to get a grip on something more inspiring than your reactionary fears.”
Craig & Pam Gingold
“Dumping Bill Mandel was like chopping down an old-growth redwood tree. For KPFA to make any serious claim to honor, decency, and integrity, they must make things right with Bill Mandel. It’s that simple.”