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Contact Fred Dodsworth
Listener Candidate for the KPFA Local Station Board
Twenty one years ago, in October of 2000, I wrote the following analysis of KPFA and Pacifica for the SF Examiner newspaper. As a result of this article, a board member resigned and the network was saved. It is horrifying to see 21 years later we're still (essentially) in the same situation. It's time for a change. Vote for me and I will do what I can to make a difference.

"The war for control of the Pacifica Radio network—including Bay Area station KPFA—has all the makings of a soap opera. While the network sinks into a financial morass, foundation board members openly speculate about the market value of the stations while longtime radio hosts and local listener boards attack Pacifica’s governing board.
“The national organization is just a bunch of incompetent liars,” said the chairwoman of the KPFA Local Advisory Board. “National programming has declined and national news has gone from bad to worse and has nothing to do with Pacifica’s mission.”
“They’re zealots,” counter claimed the vice-chairman of Washington, D.C. based Pacifica Foundation “They have an innate anger towards society as a whole.”

Pacifica Foundation has accused its stations and local area boards of pandering to aging White lefties while ignoring African-American programming needs.
“The purpose of public radio, from its inception, was not a mass audience. It was primarily for the educated, middle-class listeners. Many of our listeners have been with us since they were young. They have contributed and continue to contribute in everyway, from civil rights movement to the anti-war movement.”
“Pacifica accuses us of being violent and racist in response to every complaint we make about the national board. Whether we are concerned about their financial incompetence or their inability to create new and compelling national programs, they use that as a defense to all of our charges.

“Pacifica has been subverted by a small group of individuals who have acted to destroy any semblance of democratic participation, lawful governance, accountability and fiduciary stewardship in order to consolidate and centralize their own hold on power within Pacifica's national governing body. … (They) frequently met, conducted business, and made decisions … without reporting to the Board or making minutes of the Executive Committee meetings available to the Board or the public.”

Democracy Now!, Pacifica’s most popular and most radical news program was ordered off the air across the country by the national board. While still broadcast by many of Pacifica’s approximately 70 “affiliated” stations, KPFA is the only Pacifica owned station that continues to broadcast Democracy Now!

“I honestly don’t know why this all happened,” said one long-term KPFA reporter. “Pacifica’s actions have been tragic and shameful. They’re wasting listener’s money on high priced lawyers and P.R. people that have nothing to do with Pacifica’s mission. This is a time when Pacifica’s voice is most needed.”
Answers to Candidate Questionnaire
1. What experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the local station board to advance the station's mission?
  As a journalist, as writer, editor, and publisher, I am familiar with the goals and needs of a successful media company. As an engaged political activist, I am familiar with the importance of building community and consensus.
2. What do you appreciate and value in the station's current operations?
  I appreciate that KPFA has the only full news department in the Pacifica Network. I appreciate and adamantly support the diversity of views and the in-depth programing we offer our varied communities. I am hopefully we are bringing those communities together, not just serving them individually. I believe KPFA helps to expand our world-view and increase our understanding of the world we currently inhabit.
3. What would you like to see improved or changed in the station's current operations?
  I think it is imperative that we get our financial house in order. In the midst of these turbulent times, politically and financially, we must insure that all our stations and our network are managed with transparency and complete accountability. There are NO EXCUSES for the numerous unforced errors that currently threaten our station and our network. Audience goals must be set and achieved with rational performance schedules. Stations cannot run a negative financial balance, nor can individual broadcast programs. There is room for all voices, but low audience programing, and low supporter investment, needs to be moved to broadcast times where low listener numbers are expected, whereas high listener numbers should be located in time slots that increase our supporter base.
4. Describe what you anticipate would be your top three priorities or areas of focus if you were elected to the local station board.
  The most important role I would play is to listen. I would be blustering if I suggested I had answers to the problems of an organization with which I have not been actively involved in managing. Increasing listen audience share is important but KPFA’s listeners are not the same as Christian Radio or Modern Jazz listeners. We are not trying to serve just any listeners, we’re trying to best serve and grow the numbers of OUR listeners. By hearing from management, staff, listeners and the other board members I can inform myself best, and best serve the KPFA community. When I have a better grasp of the structural issues holding KPFA back, or making KPFA stronger, then I’ll know what to suggest.
5. Sustainability is an important part of any nonprofit operation. What are your thoughts on how the board can help to improve the station's financial footing?
  Fiscal accountability is not mysterious. Income and expense sheets aren’t a secret art. We are only here now because we failed to do the minimal that any organization must do if it is to survive. Instituting, locally and nationally, standard fiscal practices will keep us alive. KPFA, with 15,000 listeners can sustain itself. Other regional broadcasters in our network must hew to the same standards and practices at all organizations abide by. To do elsewise is folly and the road to ruin. There are many in this nation who would love to see us disappear, and there are many who would love to pick our bones and take our assets. We are solemnly charged with stopping that from happening. That we are here today speaks volumes.
6. Is there anything else you would like prospective voters to know?
  KPFA (Pacifica) is a great foundation upon which we can build a better world, locally and nationally, but that foundation has been undermined by in-fighting and unproductive practices. We are, once again, at a crossroads. If we fail to address our issues the station and the network will cease to exist. This is not the first time we’ve been here, but our current situation is dire. The network is indebt for millions of dollars and is currently past due on its commitments. If we proceed as we have we will be driven to liquidate the assets and the community that has taken us more than 80 years to build. These are difficult times and fighting the old wars is a sure path to failure. It’s time for new blood, new voices, and new eyes. Together we can build back this great station and put it on its best foundation. With all of us pulling in the same direction, success is inevitable. With your vote and your support we can make a difference in this world, we can actually and successfully address the many problems our world faces. I'm a busy retired fellow. I’m not looking for social events or a social circle. I am only interested in using my skillsets to leave behind a better world.
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