DISCLAIMER: Opinions and facts alleged in the Candidate Statements belong to the author of the statement only and should not be assumed to be true or to reflect the editorial stance or policy of the Pacifica Foundation or the opinions of its management, Pacifica National Board, station staff.or other listener members.
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Contact Burton White
Listener Candidate for the KPFA Local Station Board
My name is Burton White.
My association with KPFA started in 1960 as a commentator on the student movement. I joined the staff and was mentored by KPFA's Director of Public Affairs, Elsa Knight Thompson who became a close friend. A major part of my work at the station-but not the only part-was coverage of the Free Speech Movement. I was chosen chair of the first Union at KPFA (chapter of NABET, Local 51). My experience at KPFA led to a change in my life goal from academia to labor relations. I spent 20 years representing working people and now serve the collective bargaining process as a labor arbitrator and mediator specializing in dispute resolution and avoidance.
I now live in Oregon and have reunited with KPFA's broadcasting through streaming and the Internet. If elected to KPFA's Local Board, I will attend all meetings.
The following are key parts of my outlook:
There have been major battles throughout KPFA's history among people with differing views of KPFA's mission. While battles over principle are valid, battles triggered by ego or a desire to control are not. Frankly, all battles can erode support. If elected to the Local Board, I hope to be an effective advocate for collaborate decision-making and constructive dispute resolution.
While KPFA is part of and has obligations to Pacifica and its affiliated stations, the first obligation of the Local Board is to KPFA and to its listeners. As you read this posting, please remember that in my roles at KPFA as volunteer and as staff, I concentrated on Public Affairs, but I believe that the following applies to the full spectrum of KPFA's programming:
1. The appropriate mission of staff and volunteers who work on and off the air is to sustain the station so that the station's purpose for being can be fulfilled.
2. Their first obligation is to the KPFA audience. Freedom of speech is a founding premise, but the primary obligation is to the listener, not to those who use the microphones or to the personal views of those who determine what is put on the air.
3. The station should strive to present viewpoints of importance in the public dialogue that are not available (or not as available) in or on other media. It should also continue to report on activities of importance such as the following historical highlights: the demonstrations against HUAC, the Free Speech Movement, the Vietnam War Teach-Ins, People's Park (activities of my era) and more recent activities such as the Occupy Movements.
I am grateful to the following members for their endorsements: Margy Wilkinson, Conn Hallinan, Sasha Futran, Mal Burnstein.
Answers to Candidate Questionnaire
1. In what ways is your station moving in a positive direction, that you would want to continue or perhaps improve?
  I am impressed with the new morning program. I am delighted with the success of the last fund drive in terms both of its financial success and its duration. Speaking as a past KPFA Development Director, it is my view that the fund drives must be as brief (and as rare) as possible. (More in question 4.)
2. In what ways is your station moving in a negative direction, that you would want to stop or change? What changes would you work for?
  Disagreements among thinking people are to be expected, but, in my view, differences should be worked out constructively. When disagreements erupt into pitched battles, the station suffers. I would work toward collaborative problem solving and decision-making.
3. What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission?
  I bring some knowledge of the station's successes (and difficulties) during the 1960s. I have since gained professional expertise in labor relations and, since 1988, have been involved in the resolution of labor disputes. I believe that this background can be helpful in encouraging constructive resolution of disputes over station policy and practice.
4. What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced?
  I was KPFA's Development Director when the first on-air fund drives were conducted. The style of today's fund drives is markedly different from those early efforts. Consideration of alternate fund drive methodology (with awareness of of the successes and failures of the past) might help us create ways to make fund drives shorter and less painful.
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