Berkeley Police Out Of Control … Even Broke My Phone And Assaulted Me

By Lisa Dettmer, KPFA unpaid staff member. Dettmer sent this email to her colleagues at 2:00AM on Monday, December 8, 2014 and consented to having it published here. Dettmer is a producer on KPFA Women’s Magazine.

Police attack protesters in Berkeley, California

Last night, I was covering the demonstration around  midnight. In response to protestors setting garbage on fire the police got into a line and began pushing the crowd down the street.  I was on the sidewalk and trying to explain to them that I was “press” and I was videotaping for KPFA, and instead of allowing me to continue videotaping from the sidewalk where I was not in their way at all,  they hit the phone out of my hand and broke my phone and then shoved me and wouldn’t let me get my phone back.  When I tried to approach a police car to ask to get my phone back, four armed police jumped out of the car with their guns drawn and told me to get away from their car.  They seemed quite  out of control generally,  which is not new.  I managed to get my broken phone back, but have not been able to upload my video coverage of the protest and my encounter with them from my Samsung  to my Mac after they smashed the screen. If I am able to tomorrow,  I will send the audio to the news department.

While  this kind of behavior  is not new for the Berkeley Police who have no better record than Oakland or anywhere else, I feel very strongly KPFA should be covering this – and not just  from our desks.   If Al-Jazeera can cover this  from thousands of miles away,  surely we can from one mile away.

I really hope others were out there this weekend and have tape and also will be covering this for the fund drive tomorrow. I think this is what is of interest to our audience, and selling premiums on an un-related topic feels  quite uncomfortable, given what is happening.

Is KPFA Now Irrelevant?

Posted by Thomas Payne on the Bay Area Independent Media Independent Center on December 8, 2014


As riots erupt across the nation and in Berkeley – the home of KPFA – and is covered by every news outlet including MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the web but not on KPFA, we need to ask is KPFA irrelevant?

KPFA seems unable to cover breaking news or be a station that truly represents our community, and instead seems more interested in creating the illusion of being a community radio station by hiring a new marketing service to sell the concepts of community and authenticity.

Where was KPFA when riots were erupting in Ferguson, NYC, Oakland and Berkeley? Nowhere to be seen.

With the exceptions of Flashpoints and Hard Knock Radio,  they were airing canned shows by journalists who are proud to say they are not activists and who have little real understanding of what is happening in the streets or our communities. Are you tired of hearing canned shows with tired hosts who spend 80 days a year hawking premiums rather than getting out of their cushy job for life and covering the news? WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR STATION?

Seems like when KPFA became a station that was largely dominated by paid staff who are largely white and seem to have a job for life, it lost its vitality and connection to what was happening on the ground. Instead it instituted a two tiered system where the journalists of color were pushed into the middle of the night, not paid, and treated as little more than slaves.  But they are the ones who are producing 60% of the programming on the air, and most of the more vital programming, and the white males who are not activists are all on prime time. So when Ferguson and Berkeley were burning, what you heard on KPFA was pre-produced shows.

Now, KPFA is managed by a slick former MTV person who has more interest in spending our hard earned money hiring a marketing firm to improve the KPFA logo and image and is selling KPFA to us as “community radio”,  packaging the station as authentic rather than caring about producing cutting edge-political journalism and creating a station that truly “is” the vision it is selling. KPFA’s new GM seems to have no politics and is only interested in selling a new image to raise more money to pay the staid hosts with a job for life who have no real connection to activism or the community and proudly say they are not activists but journalists, as if activism was some kind of dirty word – except of course when they want your money. Then we hear how we are supposed to support our community radio, the station that only wants to hear from us when we send a check.

When unpaid staff members suggested KPFA have special live coverage of the march to block the Israeli Zim ship docking in the Oakland port, KPFA’s GM went along with the news department rejection of such a plan. Which is to be expected from journalists who have a job for life and who have been at KPFA for 40 years with a sweetheart contract so they don’t need to be creative or create more dynamic news coverage because they basically can’t ever be fired. KPFA fund drives all the time expecting us to pay for these lifers with a union contract that makes it impossible to cut anyone even when they spend their time suing the station and creating a hostile place they want to run for themselves. They seem to live in an alternative universe, the crazy world of Pacifica, where they keep churning our the same old product, rarely taking calls from listeners, or covering community events or demonstrations and producing almost no live programming. Certainly none that is taking place in the community or covering a march or demonstration which even CNN does better than KPFA or Pacifica, while at the same time selling us the community as their brand. KPFA’s CWA union is so corrupt and the network so dysfunctional and yet they just keep asking us for more money rather than trying to fix themselves. And perhaps they can’t fix themselves because like so many corrupt unions they are only interested in their paychecks and fundraising to keep getting that paycheck and have no real interest in the community.

So now there is yet another fund drive at KPFA where they will once again try and sell themselves as “free speech radio” or “community radio” while they take our money and in return have no interest in hearing from us the rest of the time. KPFA is now becoming irrelevant as people turn to Democracy Now directly on the web and other news online that is more immediate, interesting, challenging and diverse. Kind of like the Democratic party, KPFA has become corrupt, and dominated by old white men who are only interested in getting their paychecks and keeping the status quo lead by an Obama-like Manchurian manager who is slick. He is so arrogant he doesn’t see how transparent he is when he sells KPFA to us as representing us!

SO maybe instead of shelling out more money and keeping the status quo – Call into KPFA this fund drive – and tell them you are no longer going to to subsidize KPFA until KPFA gets its act together, and becomes what they preach, a transparent, activist, community-involved open place that walks the talk.


No Indictment for Darren Wilson? Why Not Preempt and Throw Open the Phones?

By Ann Garrison, KPFA Unpaid Staff Council Member and Reporter/Producer

KPFA listeners seemed confused and disappointed when the station failed to preempt programming and broadcast live after the St. Louis District Attorney’s announcement that the Grand Jury would not indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown.

Downtown Oakland the night in question

Downtown Oakland after the announcement

I tuned into KPFA myself, right after watching the St. Louis District Attorney’s press conference on C-Span, and was surprised to hear the regularly scheduled programming, Africa Today, with Walter Turner without any Ferguson coverage.  I went back to switching between MSNBC’s outrage and Fox News’s celebration.

It later occurred to me that if Walter Turner’s show had been live, Walter would have been commenting on what had just happened, so the show must have been pre-recorded.  I also thought that, though I can’t claim to know Walter well, he most certainly would have understood if his pre-recorded show had been preempted for live broadcasting.

I didn’t otherwise have a strong opinion about what KPFA should have been doing right after the press conference. I just knew I wasn’t interested in what it was doing.  Women’s Magazine host Kate Raphael remarked later that she and a friend had been driving around, trying to figure out where a protest would be forming, and they were surprised when they weren’t able to tune into KPFA and find out.

That sounded right.  News of where protestors were gathering seems to be the minimum KPFA listeners should be able to expect.   Reporters or simply callers dialing in from the protests would have added value, and a video livestream like that arranged during the Block the Boat demonstrations would have been even better.

Former KPFA GM and WBAI PD Andrew Leslie Phillips nailed it, though, when he wrote, on a social media site, that “KPFA should have preempted and opened the phones.  It’s a no brainer.  It’s what radio does best.”

Of course.  People were emotional and/or in shock, even though very few had expected an indictment.  They would want to call in and hear others calling in and feel like KPFA was a community.  I myself turned to Facebook and Twitter for a sense of community, as I switched TV channels between MSNBC and Fox talking heads and livestreams from Ferguson, but I felt like something was missing: KPFA.  I would have liked to hear the phones thrown open and that would have been enough to assure that the location of protests gathering around the Bay would have been called in.

Andrew also wrote that, “Management are often intimidated by staff – but when program managers make intelligent, news-generated decisions, staff understand. It’s not about staff or unions, it’s about serving listeners. Preempting programs invigorates the air.  It’s almost always good radio.  And Pacifica should be out in front on this.”

He’s absolutely right.  Never mind that he’s on the Save KPFA side, I’m on the UCR side, or whatever  else.  Who cares?  He nailed it.  “KPFA should have preempted and opened the phones . . . it’s a no-brainer.   It’s what radio does best.”  I’ve always respected Andrew’s radio artistry and most always respected his programming judgment.

I don’t know why KPFA barely responded during the first days after the St. Louis Grand Jury decision and don’t care.   I just hope something that feels like community radio comes together next time, as it did after George Zimmerman’s acquittal, and during the Block the Boat for Gaza demonstrations at the Port of Oakland.  KPFA should feel proud to have played a role in the Block the Boat for Gaza organizing success that was reported by news outlets around the world, including Israel’s.

Letter From The Gray Panthers


Gray Panthers of San Francisco      2940 16th Street, Room 200-4, San Francisco CA 94103   415-552-8800


KPFA Radio      1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way    Berkeley, CA 94704

Dear Quincy McCoy,

As long time supporters of KPFA, members of the San Francisco Gray  Panthers are writing to tell you of our disappointment in recent management decisions at KPFA.

Because our members have supported KPFA monetarily over the years, we are only too well aware of the financial struggles the station is facing.

That said, we are also long-time supporters of Flashpoints, and deplore the $25,000 cut proposed in the new budget.  Flashpoints is a public affairs show with reporters on the ground conducting live interviews, for which it has won multiple awards.  How can KPFA cut  Flashpoints and propose in the same budget *adding* an additional wire service at a cost comparable to the Flashpoints cuts.  It is deeply problematic that KPFA proposes using money taken from quality on-the-ground live investigative reporting such as Flashpoints,  and using it for an additional news wire that will result in more news reporting read verbatim from the service.

In addition, given the financial status of KPFA, we are  concerned that the budget is also proposing an additional $40,000 for an automatic back-up answering service to collect pledges during KPFA and KPFK fund drives.  We have learned that the company is headed by a Tea party member. Each call to donate to KPFA or KPFK routes 90 cents a minute to this company or $3-5 per call.

This corporate call center is owned by Bruce Hough, an Oregon Republican who runs Impact Marketing, a Tea Party advertising and fundraising business. His partner is rabid Tea Party Congressman Sal Esquivel, who traveled to Arizona to stand with Michelle Malkin, the Minutemen and others in support of Arizona’s anti-immigrant  SB 1070.  Hough and Esquivel also funded vicious attack ads against local Democratic candidate and military veteran Jeff Scroggin. The ads were so disgusting that two out of three local Republican County Commissioners refused to endorse the Tea Party candidate associated with Hough’s Impact Marketing.   Hough and Esquivel were also labeled “Rogues of the Week” by the Willamette Weekly for an unethical scam to charge gullible voters to email Congress. Hough and Esquivel also  house conservative political action committees at Impact Marketing giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to local and national Tea Party candidates.  This flies in the face of what we have come to love and support about the Pacifica mission.

Lastly, Gray Panthers is concerned that the recent hiring process for the new Program Director was flawed.  We understand that rules of Pacifica hiring policies were violated as follows:

Section 1:  Specifying the number of Local Station Board members that must be on the search sub-committee.

Section 3: Specifying placement of advertisements for positions and distribution of applications for positions.

Section 5: Specifying notice of meetings and their open meeting previsions.

Section 8: Specifying voting procedures in the committee.

Section 10: Specifying disclosure of the selection process, once completed.

Section 12: Specifying the Local Station Board’s oversight of the committee’s process.

As long-time listeners and supporters of KPFA, we feel that precious resources should be spent on furthering KPFA’s mission of community radio, and that decisions over critical personnel matters should be made in accordance with Pacifica policies. Please respond to us addressing our concerns.

San Francisco  Gray Panthers Board

Patricia Jackson, Convener

cc via email: KPFA Local Station Board, Pacifica National Board

Listening: Just Peace: Radio Free Georgia Broadcast on Sub-Saharan Africa

2013 PNB Vice Chair Heather Gray hosts this discussion with Black Agenda Report editor Bruce Dixon and Pacifica reporter Ann Garrison on imperialism in East Africa, the legacy of genocide and massacre, propaganda and distortion and the Congo in a wide ranging hour-long conversation.

KPFA’s Andres Soto at the San Francisco Labor Council


Communities for a Better Environment Richmond campaign coordinator and KPFA host Andres Soto speaks at the San Francisco Labor Council about the programming he and his Morning Mix colleagues were creating for KPFA and Pacifica on July 14, 2014.