Anthony Fest

Anthony Fest

Producer and host, KPFA’s “Weekend News.”  Producer of “Project Censored Show,”  “Afternoons with Andres Soto,” and  “Poor News Network.”


I’m Anthony Fest, a staff candidate for the Local Station Board (LSB). Here are some of my thoughts about KPFA; if you agree with these ideas, I’d appreciate your vote!

First, my background: I’ve hosted Sunday-evening newscasts on KPFA since 1996. More recently, I was involved in producing and hosting the Morning Mix. I continue to do technical production for the Project Censored Show, El Show de Andres Soto, and the Poor News segment on Hard Knock.

It’s been an honor to be associated with the latter three programs, because each, in its own way, epitomizes what KPFA should be about. Project-Censored media scholars Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff seek out issues and individuals who need better coverage than corporate media is giving. Andres Soto is a natural broadcaster and one of the best additions to KPFA in many years; he brings in-depth knowledge of both local politics and the music world. Tiny, Muteado and the Poor News crew deliver the voices and issues of low-income and no-income people, unfiltered by the commercial-media spin that depicts poor people as a social problem, instead of individuals who deserve the same rights and respect as everyone else. PNN may well be the most educational 15 minutes on the radio!POOR Logo

Besides my programming background, I served two previous terms on the Local Station Board (LSB).

I’d like to go back to the LSB to attempt to address a couple of ongoing KPFA conundrums:

– We broadcast the voices of people fighting for democracy and equity in society, yet our own organization is sorely lacking in those qualities. We’re structured much like a commercial station, with all authority residing at the top. Reorganizing KPFA as a co-op would give all of us a role in the station’s direction; I don’t know if this is legally possible. However, we still can demand that our voices be heard and our concerns addressed.

– We report on social change, yet KPFA itself changes very little. The last real wave of innovation at KPFA was nearly fifteen years ago, in the post-crisis period when many new shows were introduced. Today, we still have only one hour a week dedicated to the Asian-American community, only half an hour for environmental programming, half an hour for labor, no programs for seniors, the LGBT community, etc. Surely we can do better than this.

I don’t pretend that these long-standing problems can be resolved only from a seat on the Local Station Board.  In fact, the LSB is not a very strong institution, as it lacks the power to enforce its decisions. However, at a minimum, the LSB is a venue where staff concerns can be heard and amplified. As C.S. Soong says, “the important thing is not to stop questioning.” If elected to the LSB, I intend to ask lots of questions!

Official Q. & A.



1.  In what ways are the station moving in a positive direction, that you would want to continue or perhaps improve?


The new KPFA web site has a bold, contemporary appearance, and that’s good for promoting the station (although the site still seems to have some bugs).The airing of new programs on KPFB on weekends is a great development, bringing additional listening choices to Berkeley, and offering the apprentices more air time to present their work.



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 “democracy deficit” is getting worse. In 2008, management shut down the Program Council, depriving both listeners and staff of a role in evaluating programs. No manager since then has acted to reverse that destructive deed. And with no Program Council, there’s no point of entry into KPFA for people who want to propose new programs, but don’t already know someone at the station. How can this be “grassroots community radio”?

 Photo by J MacPherson

Photo by J MacPherson

With the loss of the Program Council, we staff no longer have a role in program decision-making. And now, even our opportunities for communication are being curtailed. As of July 26, the present management has held only one all-staff meeting this year, and that was devoted to a single issue (the web site).

The Program Council should be restored, and management should hold monthly all-staff meetings (in the evening, so working people can attend).



3.  What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission?


I have over 20 years’ experience in news and public affairs production at KPFA (Sunday News, Morning Mix, Project Censored, Poor News, El Show de Andres Soto,). I also served two previous terms on the LSB, as well as terms on the Program Council and the Unpaid Staff Organization Council.



4.  What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced?


We need more listeners and more subscribers. This is one aspect of KPFA operations where we should imitate what commercial stations do: advertise. A billboard, and /or bus ads, will make us known to thousands of potential listeners who may never have heard of KPFA before. Another option, less effective but also less costly, would be to run ads in community and college newspapers.



National Lawyers Guild Letter to KPFA On The Morning Mix

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The recent removal of the Morning Mix radio program from the 8:00 AM time slot on KPFA has raised some concern at the San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (“Guild”). We write this letter because KPFA and its free speech mission, are important to the Guild and to many activists that either work with, or are represented by, Guild members.

The Guild views KPFA not as simply another movement organization, but as a key part of the information commons. In that sense, KPFA is similar to a public utility — it is for the public benefit. KPFA policies on openness and actions regarding access to its airwaves affect all of us striving for a better world.

Like KPFA and Pacifica, the Guild was created with a particular mission: it was founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association’s exclusionary practices and political orientation, and the Guild was the first integrated bar association. KPFA was launched in 1949, three years after pacifist Lew Hill created Pacifica. The aim of the station has always been to promote cultural diversity, to promote pluralistic cultural expression,  to contribute to a lasting understanding among diverse constituents, to maintain freedom of the press, and to create a forum for various viewpoints.

At KPFA’s core is the concept of pacifism or non-violence. Non-violence is often mistaken for being simply the absence of, or opposite of, violence. Instead nonviolence is a systematic framework of both conceptual principles and pragmatic strategies to reduce harm and promote positive peace at the personal, community, national and global levels. Contrary to popular belief, non-violence requires boldness and courage. Moreover, it is easy to fall astray from the path of non-violence in the pursuit of financial stability or in response to political pressure.

With this framework and history in mind, we raise our concerns about an uncomfortable pattern of events that have transpired at KPFA that appear to be the antithesis of non-violence. We do not list these concerns to cast blame, or to impose our set of values on another organization. We list these concerns because our collective silence could be perceived as approval or consent. We consider individuals and organizations on both sides of this debate as both friends and allies. It is in the spirit of a friend and ally that we speak about the recent decisions at KPFA, and seek to build trust through transparency.

The Morning Mix was unique within the KPFA lineup because it was hosted by a diverse group of community volunteers with programming important to community members. The Morning Mix often reported on local political movements that were under-reported elsewhere. One such issue is tar sand extraction and transportation by rail to refineries. Andres Soto, one of the hosts of the Morning Mix, and a Richmond resident and activist, often reported on this issue. He frequently reported on Chevron’s efforts to refine tar sands in Richmond which will have a direct impact on the people of Richmond and surrounding communities. Across the nation, we see a growing movement on this issue, and the Guild has recently received reports of brutal arrests of people who oppose tar sands. Instead of supporting this excellent reporting done by Andres Soto on this issue, KPFA has essentially silenced him by eliminating the prime time Morning Mix program. It is doubtful that the new paid host from LA will report on local efforts to oppose refining tar sands in the same way.

We could go through other hosts and programs on the Morning Mix, and discuss how each is connected to a local community and movement, however the point is that KPFA’s actions have actually decreased the diversity of speech on its airwaves.

As a community-based radio station dedicated to pluralistic expression, it would seem that KPFA would wish to avoid even the appearance of decreasing diversity, or of favoritism, or of bias. Gentrification of a neighborhood transforms it by displacing local residents, which in turn erases local character. Defenders of gentrification support the transformation, claiming that it increases public safety. Some at KPFA have described the removal of the Morning Mix as a ” move towards professionalism”. However we fear that “professionalism”, like “public safety” is pretext. The unqie character of the Morning Mix came from its local voices, accents, topics and perspectives. KPFA erased this local character with a single paid host out of LA.

Another reason put forth by by KPFA management is that the LA program will allegedly bring in more revenue. Although people can and do argue about interpretation of financial figures, the financial documents produced at the KPFA Local Station Board show that the Morning Mix was pulling is weight during fund drive. Thus, KPFA’s reliance on a specific interpretation of its financial figures, when there are other valid interpretations,  is a factor that creates the appearance of viewpoint bias. For example, the KPFA financial documents do not take into account the expenses incrred by having paid hosts. Thus, the financials purport to measure programs in terms of revenue generated, and disregard specific costs incurred by having paid hosts.

Moreover, and this point cannot be emphasized too much, KPFA can not and must not base all of its programming decisions on finance alone.

Although this letter was prompted by the removal of the Morning Mix, in the course of drafting this letter, we have learned of complaints that KPFA management has silenced specifically black programmers and/or failed to provide support for critical black programming or programming on critical local issues relevant to black communities. We are concerned that the removal of the Morning Mix, a show frequently hosted by black local hosts, is part of this pattern. We understand that KPFA is filling the Morning Mix time slot with a show hosted by a person of color, however the show is not produced locally, and does not have as close a connection to Bay Area black communities, and that features voices of black programmers, and not assume that programming by or for people of color generally will necessarily cover these issues.

KPFA, as part of its mission, must be ever vigilant of protecting diversity of viewpoints. Removal of the Morning Mix has narrowed the range of speech on its airwaves.

KPFA appears to promote radio programs that would prefer to talk about global economics, rather than race and the local displacement of black and immigrant families. It is an agenda that appears it would rather talk about gender discrimination in the boardroom, but not talk about the impact of gender, race and poverty on the young girls caught up in sex trafficking on Bay Area streets. It is an agenda that appears it would rather solve problems abroad, rather than those at home.

The Guild is an organization dedicated to human rights over property rights, and our collective conscious is touched when KPFA – a radio station dedicated to promoting diversity – consciously or unconsciously engages in viewpoint suppression. The allegations may be uncomfortable, however we in the Guild believe that it is through transparency and discussion of diverse viewpoints that this situation can be resolved.

In solidarity,

Sharon Adams, Vice President

National Lawyers Guild, Bay Area Chapter

August 12, 2014

NLG letter re Mix & KPFA