Two-stage emergency plan; & signal-swap to release cash. Response to remarks by Mr Burton

Clifford Burton was kind enough to make a comment yesterday, about the current travails at KPFKD (not the KPD). My response became a lil longer than two paras., so i’ve put it here as a post. I thank Mr Burton (or is it Mx these days?) for helping me coalesce my thoughts.

In a separate post i’ll comment more narrowly on the KPFKD crisis thru consideration of two Pacifica meetings & a commentary: the Tu9June PNB Finance Cttee, & the W10June KPFKD Finance Cttee, & the W10June report by R Paul Martin to that evening’s WBAI Local Station Board ( – 5pp. plus 3pp. appendices).


Strictly speaking, & this is the practical reality, KPFKD’s fate is Pacifica’s, not the station’s. A station owns nothing, not even the paper-clip being flipped across the station manager’s desk while he stares at the spreadsheet. Yes, the listeners think of the station as their own, they’re attached (Bowlby), & the station activists have not just a cognitive but an emotional involvement in the station, but in the famed last analysis, each station (1) is a custodian of Pacifica assets, administering them, (2) owns no debt, & (3) is an accounting unit.

This means that a revenue collapse at a station is Pacifica’s problem.

And this can cause a problem in a signal area when the self-understanding of what it is to support ‘my’ station, to love ‘my’ station, to be involved in Pacifica, is based on a falsehood, when, in the strictest sense (& so not to be thought unkind), the self-understanding isn’t up to the task, it’s practically inadequate.

As i’ve said elsewhere, all station accounting data, either as an aid for management decision-making or to inform the members & listeners, should allow a fair comparison between station performances, so of like with like. This requires the stripping out of the effects of historical accidents, which started in the Garden of Eden, when Pacifica & KPFA constituted an identity, the one & the same. The most glaring effect is that some stations are privileged, enjoying Pacifica buildings, land, & transmitters on a rent-free basis, thus being subsidised by the other stations, which also have the extra burden of paying non-Pacificans simply to function. A double burden is a double shift (Arlie Hochschild).

And the political effect of this persisting deficiency in how some Pacificans self-conceptualise & live affectively? Station chauvinism; separatism; provincialism. Station chauvinism: breeding poison, fuelling resentment. Separatism: break up Pacifica, destroy the network. Provincialism: springing from an exclusory proprietary attitude, it’s simultaneously inward-looking & antagonistic to others, causing the living of an in-group/out-group perceived reality, friend versus foe (Carl Schmitt). All this, antithetical to the nature that is Pacifica.

In terms of getting out of Pacifica’s endemic crisis, this blog (& in prior comments at Chris Albertson’s has consistently noted the obvious: the only plausible way to, in the current idiom, let Pacifica breathe, is to negotiate a signal-swap (two isn’t needed), thereby using cash both to settle debts & to pay for the implementation of a network development plan. Only this can give Pacifica a future.

The Gorgon Grace approach has always been intrinsically myopic. Preserving the $3.265m loan principal, thru either extending the loan term or finding a new lender, has never addressed Pacifica’s future. It has only condemned Pacifica to a perpetual present, a Sisyphean existence, perpetual firefighting mode, the living of a diminishing, & so debilitating, present. The Grace approach, accepted by the PNB by default, the typical Pacifica action of inaction, an act of omission, has choked Pacifica, presenting it with the living of a shrinking horizon.

Only by eliminating the constant firefighting is it possible, but not guaranteed, to (1) pay bills timely, (2) give management, staff, the PNB, & the local station boards the time to focus on the future, rather than the present, & (3) improve the appalling interpersonal interactions at four of the stations (WBAI is relatively pacific).

In terms of the politics (not morality) of practice, Pacificans need to grasp that money isn’t necessarily sinful, but instead can simply make life a lot easier & less stressful. (Ask the hundreds of millions of Chinese no longer in dire poverty.) Most so-called leftists fail to recognise the liberatory potential of money (& of marketing) in our current kind of society, one that’s necessarily mediated by money: there’s no way to avoid this, other than suffering the consequences even more. Regrettable, yes, but true. It means money is needed to allow Pacifica to regain health, & to not just grow (augment existing capacities) but to develop (acquire new qualities).

It’s time to flourish, not suffer.

But how to do that?

Money. And the only feasible source, other than Danny Glover, is a signal-swap. But that can be a two-year process, so in the meantime Pacifica needs to find a way to survive, & the depth of its cashflow crisis may require a two-stage response.

First, the only way to chop enough costs rapidly is to chop the staff at both KPFA & KPFKD, changing their character, making Pacifica as a whole volunteer-based. Second, its cashflow crisis may require the sale of a building, even two. (Note that as they’re collateralised to the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC, at a 3:1 asset-to-principal ratio, it means FJC gets a third of the valuation sum constitutive of the contract.)

Pacifica is in its current Laurel & Hardy mess because the PNB has been in denial since 1Apr2018. It had taken out the $3.7m loan from FJC but didn’t take responsibility for the future, grasping the monetary nettle by starting the process of doing a signal-swap.

In any case, a radio signal isn’t what it used to be. Digitisation has caused broadcasting to be transcended by providing. The broadcast schedule, transcended by the download list. The position on the dial, transcended by reputation, sustained by social media, enhanced by branding. The radio, transcended by mobile digital devices. Radio is 20th century, it’s passé. It’s one reason why the BBC since 2018 no longer speaks of radio but of “sounds”: not a device, but an output.

Yes, Pacifica’s listeners are, literally, a dying breed. If Pacifica is to avoid extinction it needs to grasp the future, it needs leadership, it needs a group to initiate a transformation. But do they exist? The breakers do. We know that. But can the Pacifica partisans rise to the occasion? As Primo said, thru his alter ego in the Belarusian forest, se non ora, quando?, if not now, when?


13 thoughts on “Two-stage emergency plan; & signal-swap to release cash. Response to remarks by Mr Burton

  1. Kim Kaufman 11 June, 2020 / 17:40

    “not even the paper-clip being flipped across the station manager’s desk while he stares at the spreadsheet.”

    Ha ha, I can assure you, KPFK’s GM never looks at spreadsheets.

    Your picture of a future for Pacifica ignores the basic problem: all any of the board members want is to control programming. Both factions over the last 20 years have had a hand at manipulating managers to their vision, or lack thereof, and thus the complete collapse of all of it. They all have demonstrable records of repeated failure.

    Kim Kaufman

    Liked by 2 people

    • PacificaWatch 11 June, 2020 / 19:21

      Ah, i should have remembered those dictums about ‘never underestimate . . .’.

      If it’s really a case of endemic myopia then, yes, events, the force of others, will crush what remains of Pacifica. Even the necro-economics of The Golden Corpses will run out of offerings for the pyre.


  2. 3rd1000yrs 11 June, 2020 / 22:02

    Remember when KPFA was tried to be taken over by the NPR veteran and his cronies? and they were all locked out, and the people rose up and took over again, with the help of Alice Walker and others?! Morally, our communities paid for them, supplied workers for them, in some cases built them, made the money to continue them, their mission is to serve the local communities, which is part of the Pacifica by-laws! They have tried to use the ownership status to boss the stations before, but it doesn’t work if we don’t let it. We have boards and volunteers for a reason! URL:, facebook: KPFK Los Angeles 90.7 fm Friends Forum, Sue


    • PacificaWatch 12 June, 2020 / 04:14

      Exactly my point, Sue: no part of Pacifica is owned by the locals; the locals simply administer Pacifica property on behalf of 𝗮𝗹𝗹 Pacifica members, & for the benefit of listeners everywhere, not just local residents. The locals are custodians of Pacifica property, property shared with others.

      For locals to think, & feel, it’s solely their property, for them to be proprietary in an exclusory fashion, is to be provincial. It engenders station chauvinism, & a provincialism that is simultaneously inward-looking & antagonistic to others, causing the living of an in-group/out-group perceived reality, friend versus foe (Carl Schmitt). And in a multi-station context this can be highly destructive because it exacerbates centrifugal pressures, especially when the organisation is stressed. It’s also the living of a falsehood, of a mistaken reality. Much better to embrace ‘the Pacifica fam’, smile, & suffer normally, rather than suffer pathologically.


  3. 3rd1000yrs 11 June, 2020 / 23:06

    What is KPFKD? If Pacifica would hire people who love and know it, instead of from the outside, it would go a long way toward making it run better. If people “in power” in Pacifica would always have to come up thru the ranks, preferable paid staff, Pac. would be much better off. If KPFA would be kept strictly separate from the officers and powerful in Pacifica, we would be better off. Certain person/s at “A” feel all too empowered to dip in to National Pacifica coffers for whatever they think is important, with no due process. Sue Cohen Johnson


      • 3rd1000yrs 14 August, 2020 / 22:39

        What’s the ‘D’ for?
        Glory and power for my own station is partly to liberate it from the hegemony of KPFA/Pacifica. Liberation of WBAI (if it could ever happen) would help them to face the reality of their financial situation, and that they need to serve their communities in order to both make money and be true to the Pacifica Mission. Detaching KPFK would do the same, as well as keeping KPFA/Pacifica from dipping into KPFK’s revenue stream.
        Infighting will never stop, just lessening the intensity would help. Preventing the cronies at the ‘top’ from scuttling us would help.
        We have the responsibility to take action to fix or overthrow the ‘rulers’.
        Thanks for this blog.


      • PacificaWatch 16 August, 2020 / 20:42

        Thanks for the thanks!

        (FY2018 published today, over four weeks since it was agreed by the Th16July PNB! Time moves sl-ow-ly in PacificaWorld. Available from both the Foundation’s homepage & the Financials tab: I’ll do a post on it tomorrow.)


  4. robertgartner 12 June, 2020 / 01:21

    Youve read on ‘Bowlby’?? Just getting into him. Dr Craig Childress?? Thank you kim for what you had to share above. We eat our managers in Houston.


    • PacificaWatch 12 June, 2020 / 04:46

      Yes, Robert, Bowlby on attachment/separation/loss can be heuristically applied to other than intrapersonal & interpersonal relations: to the intra-groupal, inter-groupal, & the social.

      Hadn’t heard of Childress, so thx a lot for that. His website also has links to YT vids.

      Also glad to know cannibalism is alive (?) & well in Texas – but in that state is it socially acceptable to add lashes of Cajun sauce?


  5. 3rd1000yrs 14 August, 2020 / 23:13

    The D is like Punk’d, for past tense? S
    got it


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