September 10, 2001
Several individuals have attributed to me certain statements on the issue of the situation known as the “Pacifica Crisis.” As I am quite capable of speaking for myself without easy-chair interpretations, I have decided to make this public comment.
More than two years ago, when trouble was first brewing at KPFA, I wrote in The Nation that the entirety of the Pacifica network was at risk. I stated at the time that the crisis had been precipitated by Pacifica management’s clumsy and unexplained dismissal of KPFA’s manager, Nicole Sawaya. I also called for the resignation of the Executive Director and the reinstatement of Sawaya and accused the National Board and then Chairwoman Mary Francis Berry of gross negligence.
But I also strongly criticized the KPFA staff for abusing their on-air privileges. I wrote that it was a mistake to take to the air to agitate and air internal grievances. One hundred days later, I was proven correct when the station descended into chaos.
Just as in 1999, I firmly believe today that both sides in this conflict bear heavy responsibilities for the dire mess in which Pacifica now finds itself. For taking this position, I have been called just about every vile name invented in English and probably one or two other languages as well. But my assertion stands. Today, we see that the zealots and bumblers at the Pacifica National Board, the Pacifica National Staff, the WBAI management, as well as the “dissident” Pacifica Campaign and many of their political allies, including key staff of Democracy Now!, have now recklessly escalated this situation. As a result, it is only a matter of days or weeks, at the most, before the network finally and conclusively implodes. When the smoke clears and the perpetrators can view the wreckage their handiwork has wrought in the glare of daylight, perhaps then they’ll realize with a guilty gulp that no one came out the winner.
The unfolding of Pacifica’s cheap trash radio drama is as predictable as Jerry Springer, albeit less entertaining. Just when the scarce remaining observers are convinced that Pacifica could not possibility stage yet another vulgar display of self-abuse, a new outrage erupts from one side or the other.
The latest chapter is the dispute over National Program Manager Steve Yasko. For those who idle away their lives wondering about these matters: Yes, on August 31 I wrote Steve Yasko a private e-mail demanding that he resign. This was not a new position. I told him the same thing shortly after he was hired one year ago. I also repeated my long-standing position that his boss, Bessie Wash, has no business running a radio network. I told Yasko that he should quit because he was an inept manager and that the current administration was driving the network into the ground.