Tom Voorhees

Tom Voorhees

Tom Voorhees

2014 Volunteer of the Year from the National Association of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) membership, National/International engineer
for community stations,  early KPFA unpaid staff

I am Tom Voorhees, a member of and a candidate for the KPFA local station board (LSB).

I will work to restore the former high level of KPFA’s news and public affairs programming necessary for all of us listeners to understand critical issues requiring our attention and action. KPFA’s longstanding policy has been to sponsor vigorous debate from all viewpoints, on controversial issues.  Current management policy, by contrast, appears to avoid controversial issues via censorship.  It has refused to air at least one program because of content.  I am very concerned about the dumbing down of my hometown radio station by existing KPFA management and the current local station board majority.

An example of KPFA’s dumbing down is the partial replacement of FSRN grassroots national and international news by Feature Story News, a provider of mainstream news to commercial radio stations.  Recently KPFA management and the LSB majority have chosen not to identify on air the source of news dispatches from FSN and other commercial news networks.  The KPFA program council, representing listeners of all colors and local community interests, was eliminated.  The program council needs to be reestablished for KPFA to be truly responsive to the overall Bay Area listener community.

For two years management has neglected to apply for millions of dollars in CPB grants, resulting in severe financial stress and degraded news content.  I will work to restore the proper financial auditing so this funding can be regained.

I intend to restore KPFA and Pacifica’s important role in ending self perpetuating endless wars around the world.

I started in community radio through journalism and radio shop at El Cerrito High School.  I was an engineering volunteer at KPFA in the 1960s.  In the 1970s I assisted the startup of the Ink Works movement printers’ collective in Oakland.  In the 1980s I was an engineering consultant to the Sandinista civil infrastructure for radio broadcasting and hydroelectric power in Nicaragua.  In 1999 I was one of the organizers of the first independent media center as part of the WTO resistance in Seattle. Independent media centers now exist all over the world.

Tom Voorhees works on KDPI tower

Tom Voorhees works on KDPI tower

In recent years as an engineering volunteer, I have assisted many new community radio stations to get on air, with most becoming Pacifica affiliates. Recent on-air successes include KFFR in Colorado, KRFP, KDPI and KRBX in Idaho, WVQR on Vieques and Culebra islands in Puerto Rico, KHOI in Iowa, and KSJU in Washington State. As a result I was voted 2014 volunteer of the year by the National Association of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) membership.

Having been a community radio and alternative media startup activist most of my life, I promise to find a way to make KPFA and all five Pacifica stations financially viable again.

Endorsements (among many):

Michael Parenti, author
Joe Wanzala, former LSB/PNB member.
Veterans for Peace, East Bay Chapter #162
Marilyn Langlois, Richmond Planning Commissioner
Bruce Dixon, managing editor at Black Agenda Report

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 all-volunteer weekend news with real live local reporting of labor and antiwar demonstration events is a good starting point. The paid staff weekday KPFA news should follow the lead of the weekend news and should not rely on unidentified mainstream commercial news services as they have recently started doing.  The weekend news also has an expert Africa reporter with on-the-ground Africa experience of whom the weekday news could make much better use.

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?

Tom Voorhees (top) WVQR Stub tower STL repeater dishes going up! Vieques in Puerto Rico, 2013.

Tom Voorhees (top) WVQR Stub tower STL repeater dishes going up! Vieques in Puerto Rico, 2013.

Bring back the morning mix featuring local critical issues and discussion of effective solutions.Restore the full FlashPoints investigative budget for critical world issues.  Improve union news reporting on Bay Area and national grassroots organizing efforts.  Greatly increase coverage of antiwar organizing efforts as was the founding purpose of KPFA in 1949.  Provide detailed information on the predicted recurrence of the 2008 financial collapse, as nothing has been done to prevent it happening all over again in the very near future.  Also some additional consumer financial protections have been removed or watered down which KPFA could do much better at reporting.

3. What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission?
I have fifty years of connections and cooperation with key antiwar and grassroots organizers.  Together we have worked to provide communication in support of project organizing efforts.  For example, we pioneered the concept of the Independent Media Centers and then created the infrastructure to allow worldwide communication about the 1999 Seattle WTO demonstrations on world wide RFPI short wave radio broadcasts and satellite uplinked video and audio receivable around the world for local rebroadcast.   I have a lifelong background in radio engineering, including estimating project costs, contract administration & compliance, contractor supervision, and quality control, all of which I will use to assure that KPFA and Pacifica have the best infrastructure possible at the lowest possible cost.
4.  What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced?
photo by Daniel Arauz

photo by Daniel Arauz

I do not support the selling off of some Pacifica stations to solve the problems caused by mismanagement of CPB block grant applications by KPFA and Pacifica management. I will work to dissolve the unauthorized clandestine KPFA Foundation, which is a word-for-word copy of the Pacifica foundation incorporation.

On August 6, 2015 the majority of the Pacifica board refused to discuss the secret corporation to acquire the KPFA broadcast license. In the eyes of the FCC and with some additional perfection the shell KPFA foundation could become partially eligible on September 24, 2015 to receive all five Pacifica station licenses.

If KPFA and Pacifica can demonstrate a renewed interest in challenging the military industrial complex and its constant war efforts there will be no need for the above takeover plan as listener financial support will return in much the same way as Bernie’s support is taking off

New Community Radio in Oklahoma (and Oregon) Wow!


KVOP Folks Celebrate

KVOP Folks Celebrate

After six and one-half years, and umbrella group have been awarded a Construction Permit by the FCC to build a Full Power Local Community Radio Station. They also have a new frequency – 104.5 FM –  that is more powerful than the previous one. 

KXCR fm on the Oregon Coast in Florence Oregon is also on-air as we speak after a successful filing with the FCC on April 18, 2014.

Paul Nelson, KHOI Chief Engineer.

Paul Nelson, KHOI Chief Engineer.

This summer’s Grassroots Radio Conference will be in Ames, Iowa in August, sponsored by KHOI, the station Pacifica Affiliates director Ursula Rudenberg helped build in her home town.  KHOI held a grand opening for its new studio on April 19, 2014.

Congratulations to all the wonderful and mostly unpaid workers who are changing the U.S. media landscape forever.