Executive Producer at The Real News; ethnomusicologist; Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa; volunteer for community radio stations in U.S., Nicaragua and Venezuela.
My name is T.M. Scruggs and I am running as a Listener Candidate for the KPFA Local Station Board. I am an educator, musician, and long time social activist involved in community/non-profit media since the mid-1970s. I am a Bay Area native familiar with the issues of our region.
My various forms of organizing and cultural work have proven to me that media is the crucial battleground for providing information and framing issues that determines a society’s political direction. The non-corporate perspective and original investigative reporting that KPFA and sister stations disseminate is an indispensable resource that should be available in every city.
Pacifica’s problems need to be resolved to unleash its full potential. My second career is in finances: I started a successful, growing non-profit. A top priority in my mind is straightening out the financial mess that plagues KPFA and Pacifica.
In recent years I have worked with building The Real News Network (TRNN) where I am Executive Producer. Our project centers around our internet video news site. Our studios, still a work-in-progress, are in Baltimore, and hopefully we can expand to our next choice, Oakland. I am also on the Board of Advisers of the print-based news site Truth Out.
KPFA, and Pacifica in general, needs to take more advantage of the internet to help our progressive message and programming reach the broadest possible audience. KPFA has recently upgraded its web page, an excellent step in a direction with great promise for the future. This use of newer technology, together with further strengthening of our internship program, will help increase more youth participation, a clear necessity.
I speak fluent Spanish (self-taught in one of the major cities of Latin America: Chicago) and much of my activism has involved Latino communities. I taught, and did research and solidarity work for several years in Central America and Venezuela. As the Latino populations around Richmond and San Pablo become “the new Mission” we need to work to include these important communities in KPFA programs and activities.
We can overcome the unnecessary divisiveness that seems to exist between our strong staff and amazing volunteers. Besides my executive-type experience with The Real News, I have both staff and volunteer experience in leftist and community organizations.
I volunteered on community radio in every city I have lived in since high school: KBOO (Portland; hosted two shows); WUIC (Univ. of Illinois-Chicago; founded Latino student show); KUT (Austin, Texas); KRUI (Iowa City; founded world music show); and several community radio stations in Nicaragua and Venezuela. In the 1970s/80s I was first volunteer and then the one paid “Staff Person” of a then large, collectively-run bookstore in Chicago (similar to SF’s Modern Times in its heyday).
The orientation of United for Community Radio best represents my own. Frankly, in my previous community media experience I have never run across such factionalism, and I pledge to be open minded and creative in improving our treasured KPFA and Pacifica network.
Endorsers: Bruce Dixon; Ed Holmes; Marilyn Langlois; Barbara Lubin; Michael Parenti.
Official Q. & A.
2. In what ways are the station moving in a negative direction, that you would want to stop or change? What changes would you work for?
The reputation of KPFA for too many is that it is obsessed with internal struggles that paralyze and hinder it from fully realizing the dynamic communication tool it can be. We should work to bring in more community voices that will enrich our programming and connect our station in a more direct and vibrant way to its listeners.
Engaged and locally grounded reporting and communication is a central reason for the existence of KPFA. For instance, Richmond and San Pablo are quietly becoming “the new Mission” and it begs for involvement and connection with the Bay Area’s main community radio station.
3. What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission?
I have extensive experience in community media and leftist organizing, both broadcast radio and more recently internet sites. In my four decades since finishing high school in Millbrae, I have had the honor to become actively involved in community radio stations, starting and hosting shows as a volunteer in every city I’ve lived in, including Managua, Nicaragua and Mérida, Venezuela. I have also been a paid staff member charged with helping facilitate a large volunteer base to run a successful bookstore and community center (New World Resource Center in Chicago) and now a professional paid staff at The Real News.
4. What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced?
In the last two decades I have increasingly studied the political economy to better understand the workings of power, and with a deliberate aim to use this knowledge of finances to help and to fund non-profits. Addressing the financial problems at KPFA and Pacifica, beginning with improving transparency and efficiency, are a top priority for me.I have attended several Local Board meetings but, until I am able to grapple more with the opaque bookkeeping of KPFA and Pacifica, I cannot offer a succinct program to solve these problems.
I strongly support maintaining all of Pacifica – in fact, I would like to see it expand to more cities! There are troubles throughout Pacifica, but the worst are clearly in New York. I’m not sure just how much we can help out from the West Coast, but I will do all I can do to try and right this ship: Pacifica is a very important resource and we cannot let it be diminished.