FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 6, 2000
CONTACT: Andrea Buffa, Media Alliance, (415) 546-6334 x309
Embattled Pacifica Foundation Moves National Headquarters from Berkeley to DC
KPFA listeners and Bay Area media activist shocked by nighttime move.
Berkeley, CA-Last night, after dark, movers employed by the Pacifica Foundation pulled up in front of the Foundation offices next to KPFA radio and began moving the organization's headquarters to Washington, DC. "Without any warning or announcement to the community, Lynn Chadwick moved the Pacifica Radio office in the middle of the night away from the community that has sustained it for close to 50 years," said YunJong Suh, a KPFA listener and free speech activist. Suh was attending a meeting at KPFA when the movers arrived at about 9:30 PM.
Although rumors had been circulating since July about the possibility of Pacifica moving out of the Bay Area, community members were surprised to learn that the move had happened and concerned about continuing attempts by the Pacifica leadership to insulate itself from criticism.
"Moving their offices from the Bay Area to Washington DC further isolates Pacifica from its base within the community. I view it as another blow against the mission of Pacifica and against free speech radio," said Sheri Gendelman, chair of the KPFA local advisory board.
"Pacifica's actions have already shown how incredibly removed this organization's leaders are from the people who support progressive community radio. Now they are physically removing themselves from the community that is most well-educated about its anti-democratic and censorious actions and is most willing to act to hold Pacifica's leaders accountable to the organization's mission, said Andrea Buffa, executive director of Media Alliance.
"I'm dismayed at this move. I believe that they're doing it to avoid the activism in Northern California. By doing this I think that they're hoping to make things easier for themselves, and I think they're going to be surprised that it is not going to do that," said Alice Chan, a KPFA listener and member of North Bay for KPFA.
The Pacifica Foundation is the nonprofit parent organization of KPFA in Berkeley and four other independent radio stations throughout the United States. In July, the Pacifica leadership closed down KPFA, the oldest listener sponsored radio station in the country, arrested KPFA journalists and close to 100 free speech protesters, and provoked some of the largest demonstrations seen in Berkeley since the Vietnam War. Pacifica has also censored and fired journalists at several of its stations for reporting on the crisis within the progressive radio network.
Two lawsuits have been filed against Pacifica. One lawsuit, filed on behalf of local advisory board members, seeks to reverse governance changes that concentrated all decision-making power for the organization in the hands of the Pacifica Foundation's national board and stripped local station boards of their authority. The other lawsuit was filed by Pacifica listener-sponsors to remove the Pacifica board for extraordinary acts, culminating in the armed occupation and shut down of KPFA last summer. Pacifica is also under investigation by the California Legislature's Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
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