KPFK, 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, 98.7 in Santa Barbara, is the Pacifica Foundation listener-sponsored free speech community radio station for all of southern California. When broadcasting at full strength, it has the strongest signal west of the Mississippi. It provides a vital service and is almost unique in this listening-area as a station that doesn't accept corporate underwriting or carry thinly disguised commercials; National Public Radio stations will provide the news with support (and messages) from Chevron, Texaco, et al.
For example, I was interviewed on KPCC last year during a segment about the "Occupy the Ports" action initiated by Occupy LA and Occupy Long Beach in support of the port truck drivers, longshore workers and in opposition to the Goldman-Sachs owned shipping company SSA Marine that represented the damage done by the 1%; the host kept trying to create a conflict between me and a spokesperson for the longshore union, ILWU. Our segment was interrupted by a "Marketplace" update of business news underwritten by Archer Daniels Midland. KPFK is one of the few places on the dial where you won't get that or the even more blatant propaganda of commercial talk radio and TV news.
KPFK is the only local station to offer grassroots community-oriented Spanish language programming in an area where a large percentage of the population are monoligual Spanish-speakers or use Spanish primarily in their homes -- other Spanish-language broadcasters are profit-driven and corporate owned, and their programming reflects the needs and desires of their ownership, not their listenership. What's more, as part of Pacifica, KPFK is one of the only media institutions committed to democratic governance, where listener-sponsors and staff (paid or unpaid) get to elect representatives to the Board.
KPFK could be a more effective voice for the 99%, for labor and working people, for communities of resistance, for the cause of peace with justice than it is, but it can only do so with your support and involvement. I am an elected listener representative on the Local Station Board, currently serving as chair of that Board, but I'd be lying to you if I said I was satisfied with the status quo. I ran on a platform of improving what the station broadcasts and how it functions. KPFK needs to be far more interactive with its listeners, on-air and via the Internet and out in the community. But to fulfill its potential, KPFK needs you to join now as a listener-sponsor and engage with the station and with the community of concerned listeners who seek to play an active role in getting the station and the entire Pacifica Foundation live up to its mission.
It's easy to do so now during the current fund drive, by calling in (818-985-5735 [985-KPFK]) or by going to the website, www.kpfk.org. You could take a premium, but the whole theory of listener-sponsored radio that Pacifica initiated is that the donations are by the free will of listeners to support programming. When you call or click and contribute at least $25, leave a comment. Let the station know that you appreciate the chance to hear community voices struggling for solutions to the pressing problems of our time -- war, austerity budgets, corporate greed, mass incarceration, racism, political repression, immigrant-bashing, global warming -- and you want to hear more of those voices of resistance.
Let KPFK know you want to hear in-depth local news, that you want more opportunities to call-in, more options for dialogue with other listeners on-air or via the website, more visibility for the station at community events and struggles, more shows by and for the new generation that is struggling to change the world. But become a member now. If you can't afford to donate cash, this is the time to volunteer in the phone room taking calls and pledges from others, and qualify as a listener-sponsor by serving three volunteer hours.
In so doing, you become eligible to vote in the upcoming Pacifica elections as a member of KPFK, to help elect local station board members via a proportional-representation "STV" (single transferable
vote) ballot. Some in Pacifica have tried to postpone those elections, allegedly because of budgetary considerations. A strong showing of new listener-sponsorships will make it clear that the listeners see democracy as one of Pacifica's and KPFK's selling points, a reason listeners will support the station.
In the era of "Citizens United," of continuing deregulation and monopolization of broadcasting, of privatization and militarization of the schools, the borders, and public spaces, KPFK is more vital than ever as a "public square" of the air, an electronic free-speech zone where the disenfranchised, the dispossessed and the disregarded can express ourselves. In so doing, we can make some news, indeed make some history, and help ensure the viability and growth of KPFK and Pacifica as communications media for communities of struggle and liberation.
PS: If you want to get involved in efforts to sustain and improve the station, please get in touch!