Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth (of Ruth's Report): Imagine if you will that I am on the air on KPFA and channeling Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and a host of others as I use swear words as if they were nouns, articles, and verbs.

"KPFA would be in a lot of trouble."

You would say that if you were uninformed. KPFA is not "live." It is on a delay and it airs on a delay due to the F.C.C. restrictions. While I am covering the F.C.C.'s attempt to further destroy a diverse media at my own site, that is not the point I am attempting to make today.

What is my point today? That either Sasha Lilley, Interim Program Director of KPFA, is lying or she honestly does not have a clue. Ms. Lilley is maintaining that KPFA is truly under a threat if music increases and that, if that happened, they would have to limit their online stream. Music increases? Royalty rates for songs played on air may increase. This is not snippets of songs which can be utilized under free use.

The same technique that allows them to censor me if I curse online allows them to censor music going out over their online stream. It might require a little juggling, a lot of oversight, but they could easily prevent music from going out on their online stream. When music was played during public affairs programming, online listeners would hear dead air much the way that they do when they listen to The Randi Rhodes Show online via WJNO. In that instance, the dead air is not music but what appears to be some of their advertising. Listeners of that online stream are used to it. They do not question it or panic that the stream has dropped out.

KPFA could handle music in public affairs programming the same way. They could be inventive and, instead of dead air, use the spaces to program their carts. Programs that are music programs would be effected differently and the stream could be fed other programs during that time or just be dead air for the duration.

For some reason, Ms. Lilley continues to insist that KPFA is under threat. Either she is lying or she needs someone to walk her through the basics. A community member forwarded the latest nonsense noting he was glad she had replied but could not believe she was continuing to insist that KPFA might have to ditch its online stream.

C.I. saw the e-mail Wednesday night and called me to ask if I felt comfortable addressing it? I do. I also know that C.I. and the gang will be addressing Ms. Lilley at The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow and going over this nonsense again was the last thing C.I. wanted.

So, one more time, if publishing and songwriting royalties were to increase, KPFA would not be faced with ending their online streaming. I have no idea why Ms. Lilley continues to make that threat. It probably was not a good idea to do so in an e-mail to a former listener who advised he had taken to his pledges to WBAI because he was not supporting a station that he could not listen to. That really is bad program directing. If you have someone offended by your past threats who has taken his pledges elsewhere, you do not repeat the unnecessary threat. Instead, you explain, "We pulled that threat from the website due to the complaints we received and, obviously, there are ways to continue the online streaming." Instead, she made sure that WBAI has a supportive listener who will pledge during their drives. While it is all in the Pacifica family, program directors of Pacifica stations should not be running off pledges.

Visitors frequently e-mail to suggest that I never disagree with C.I. I do not like Ms. Lilley, I do not pretend to. C.I. does. That has never prevented me from calling her out here or from doing so in harsher terms than C.I. would use if the community was clamoring for a response here to whatever her latest nonsense was.

Last Sunday, The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Dear Sasha" went up and Ms. Lilley appears to be miffed by that article. Despite the title, that was not an open letter to Ms. Lilley. Jim comes up with the headlines for their articles almost always. He came up with that one. His reply is if Ms. Lilley "didn't enjoy the article, too bad. She has no business involving herself in the LSB elections. She did not conduct herself like a program director. That said, she did get some praise in the article. She wants universal praise so she'll be very bothered by the upcoming feature. Her problems are her own and it's not our responsibility to act as the Sasha cheering section. The article should have had a better headline but I was tired and going through and adding titles to everything. Most weeks, Ava and C.I.'s devoted readers e-mail me non-stop to tell me I completely disfigured their TV commentaries with the headline I gave it."

"We could have buried her," Dona explains of the article which she did the final edit on. "A program director has no business injecting themselves into elections for the station's listening board. In effect, what she did in The Berkeley Daily Planet, while an election was ongoing, was to public endorse certain candidates by dubbing one slate 'bad' ones. That's not her job and she could have gotten in serious trouble for it. If someone lost an election and they were in the 'bad' slate, they could argue rightly that the elections were compromised by the program director interjecting herself into the elections. That is not a minor thing, a tiny issue, that is very huge. In that article, we are more than fair to her noting that she has the capabilities to serve, that she is under pressure and that if she uses her own talents she can do the job. That was not a hit piece on Sasha and it's rather sad to read a whine about how it wasn't brought to her attention in some other forum. We're not KPFA, we're not Pacifica. We are The Third Estate Sunday Review and we serve our readers who are the ones who repeatedly brought up the issue. They did so for weeks. Had Sasha stayed out of it, we wouldn't have written about it. When a program director injects herself in the elections it is a topic we will cover. We provided a link to her public comments on the matter and we used as many statements from those comments to rebut her. That article was very fair and there were some concerned that it was too fair. Leave it to her to feel it wasn't. As I'm sure Jim will tell you, she'll be even more furious with the upcoming article. Too bad. I'm furious that her threats to stop the online stream mean we can't cover KPFA. We can't do it at our site, we can't do it community wide because her baseless threats have enraged the community. She caused a lot of ill will with her earlier threat and that she hasn't learned from it and wants to repeat it all this time later is appalling. Obviously, we're working on the Peter Laufer issue for tomorrow's edition so I'm limited in what I can and cannot say. But Sasha Lilley needs to get her act together. Program director isn't a charity position. If you want the job you need to do that job. Running off listeners is not part of the job. Hopefully she'll get it together but currently she's not demonstrating that she is willing to do the work required to hold the position she does. The Peter Laufer issue seems to demonstrate that someone wants the title of program director but doesn't want to do the work required."

Since Kat and I have been most vocal online about the threat to limit the stream, I asked her for some input. Her comments were, "I feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall on this. Obviously, as you know, there is no real threat to KPFA's online stream. I can't figure out if Lilley's an idiot or just stuck with a talking point. The point we made in Sunday's feature is a good one: none of the other Pacifica stations have gone into a tizzy on this. Which suggests to me that it's not an issue of the number of online listeners but an issue of a small group at KPFA just not getting it. I'm sick of it. They've run me off, as I've said before, because I'm not going to listen on the radio and be able to enjoy the station knowing how much anger there is among the community over these threats. I listen to KPFK online now. If I'm in the car, I listen to CDs. You're talking about someone who is a lifelong KPFA listener and Sasha Lilley's actions have run me off. I'm sick of it and KPFA needs to address it. There are programs I love and would love to cover at my site but I can't even listen to KPFA due to the hostile situation Lilley's created with that threat and now she's repeating it! Once upon a time, adults ran the station. They were responsive and aware -- with one or two minor episodes where the listeners had to step in. Lilley's doing a bad job and if she can't grasp that the role of any Pacifica station is always to try to build new listeners, not run off dedicated ones with threats, then she isn't up for the job. The article she's 'miffed' by, we purposely avoided the issues swirling around, the accusations and counter-accustation and focused on reality. Lilley would do well to attempt to conduct herself in a similar manner."

Because Ms. Lilley continues to repeat the falsehood that KPFA's stream would cease if royalty rates for music played over the internet increased, I have attempted to explain very slowly and very carefully why that is not the case. Should Ms. Lilley continue to repeat the falsehood from this day forward there would no longer be any debate as to whether or not she was a liar. She can check with KPFA's attorneys who will advise her that what I have explained about 'censoring' music is correct. But there is no excuse for her to continue repeating the threat and the only thing she accomplishes with that is running off listeners. I do not believe that is among the responsiblities listed in her job description.

As C.I. noted in Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot," the Pacifica Radio Archives multi-hour special will take place this Tuesday. The special provides listeners with an opportunity to hear some of the many significant moments in broadcasting history and to show their support to preserving that history. Among the historical voices you will hear are Paul Robeson, Rosa Parks, H. Rap Brown, Patty Hearst, Angela Y. Davis, Lorraine Hansberry, Arundhati Roy, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, bell hooks, and many more. The two programs I am most excited about? "Battle Cry: American Conscientious Objectors from WWII to Iraq" which will be hosted by Amy Goodman with the second hour also featuring Aimee Allison, co-author with David Solnit Army Of None. The other one I am most eager to hear is the one involving Mr. Reiner, Mr. Guest, Harry Shearer, Patty Duke, and John Astin from a 1973 broadcast responding to Tricky Dick's tapes. While all of those names, excepting Tricky Dick, are interesting, the one I am most looking foward to is the late Cass Elliot. That special is entitled "The Whistle Blown: Conversations with the President, 1973." It will air at 3:00 p.m. (EST), 2:00 p.m. (CST), and noon (PST). I do not believe I have to explain to anyone in the community about Cass Elliot. For visitors who are late to the party, you can refer to Kat's review of a 2006 Cass Elliot CD collection. You can listen to Tuesday's multi-hour special via your regular Pacifica station -- over the airwaves or online -- and you can also stream at the Pacifica Radio Archives website and you should be able to listen live at the Pacifica Radio website. In a perfect world, everyone who listened Tuesday would be able to donate an amount, whether big or small. We live under a Bully Boy economy, so that will not be happening. But what everyone can do is get the word out. A record number of listeners means a record number of pledges to preserve the archives. So whether you are able to contribute or not, be sure to get the word out on the special.