Beholden to Nobody but the Listeners

By: Susan da Silva

To me the most important plank of the United for Community Radio (UCR) platform is the one that will preserve Pacifica as an independent entity where free speech is valued.  I’m referring to this part of the platform: Refuse corporate underwriting or advertising.  

These are desperate times at Pacifica.  Many people say: “There simply is not enough money, so why not take advertisements?”   The answer is that taking corporate money will change Pacifica and KPFA in ways that are unacceptable. 

Keep Corporations Out of Our Daily Life - photo credit below

Keep Corporations Out of Our Daily Life – photo credit below

At this point, at most Pacifica stations, there is no outside entity beyond the FCC who has any say about what is on the air.  Sometimes what goes out is not polished, sometimes it’s not politically correct, sometimes it causes us to protest. All that is good in my opinion.  That’s what makes us trustworthy.  We are accountable to each other and to the listeners, no one else.  Each person who speaks, speaks for themselves. With corporate underwriting would come outright censorship and self-censorship.  We might as well be NPR! Those who say that they never feel pressured by their advertisers, are not being totally honest, in my opinion.  They don’t even realize that they are self-censoring.

In this world ruled by corporations, Pacifica is a unique network, a place where no outside corporation can tell us what to say or feel or think.

Bring The People In - photo credit below

Connect with the People – photo credit below

So how do we get the money we need?  We do it with programming that connects to many parts of the community, programming listeners really want.  We do it by bringing new voices to the air.  We do it by reminding the listeners that we don’t take corporate money, and that we listen to them and allow them to vote for board members. We do it by being fiscally responsible enough to not leave millions of CPB dollars on the table.  (Pacifica has not received CPB money for several years because of their inability to complete an audit.)

Somewhere along the line Pacifica stopped taking budgets and audits seriously.  That nonchalance has brought us to the brink of losing our network.  I believe that hard fiscal decisions need to be made immediately.  I believe that once we get our financial house in order, we can go forth with the support of the listeners and that we will not need corporate funds to do so.

If you don’t want corporate underwriting and advertising on your Pacifica station, please vote for the UCR candidates.

“Keep Corporations Out of Our Daily Life.” – photo by Brooke Anderson from “Our Power Festival” in Richmond, CA.

“Connect with the People.” photo by Brooke Anderson from “Our Power Festival” in Richmond, CA.

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