Feuding and ideological extremism have driven some of the US’s flagship leftwing radio stations to the brink of collapse, according to two veteran broadcasters.
As indicated previously, leftist psychology fascinates me. On one hand, when faced with opposition, leftists evince astonishing single-mindedness, organization, and Party discipline. But absent such opposition, they collapse, rather like the staves of a barrel when the hoops are removed, and engage in bitter internecine squabbling (or worse, as Trotsky found out). Without opposition, the formerly steely-eyed and crafty comrades inexplicably turn into Laurel and Hardy trying to paint out of the same bucket.
Now Pacifica Radio, a hard-left network comprising only five stations now, is marching down this well-trodden path.
Observers trace the travails to 2001 when a group of rebellious listeners and broadcasters took control and instituted an elaborate governance structure of multiple boards, sub-committees and painstaking elections.
The result, according to Matthew Lasar, author of the 2005 book Uneasy Listening: Pacifica Radio’s Civil War, was continuous feuding between rival factions.
You don’t say. I can just imagine the searing battles that must have ensued: the Judean People’s Front vs. the People’s Front of Judea in a steel cage match to the death over some trifling ideological difference that no one else can discern, much less care about.
Meanwhile, Pacifica Radio is circling the bowl financially as well as intellectually, apparently broadcasting conspiracy theories about 9/11, cancer (which they apparently assert can be cured with baking soda – I’m not making this up), HIV, and chemtrails in a desperate attempt to attract listeners and stay afloat. Clearly they are trying to expand their domination of the mentally ill demographic.
One station general manager blamed the poor economy for shrivelling listener donations (unexpectedly!), evidently not having received the memo that the economy is booming in the sixth year of the Obama’s reign. LA Weekly let the cat out of the bag when it reported that during an average 15-minute period only 700 people listened to KPFK (the LA affiliate) for at least five minutes. (It took those people five minutes to lunge for the radio button?)
A site set up by a KPFK employee is well-worth reading for connoisseurs of train wrecks. In addition to revealing that as of Wednesday KPFK had $12,786.48 in its operating bank account, it details the revolving door of KPFK’s associates. My favorite in this latter category is the improbably named John Proffitt (you can almost hear God chuckling), who was Executive Director for four months, took a three week vacation, then returned only to submit his resignation.
But back to the invective, some of which is priceless, but all of which is a must-read for Schadenfreude aficionados, featuring such gems as:
- “sleeper cell of scabs”
- “small cadre of perennial parasites”
- “droning dogma”
- “the ultimate in radical delusion”
- “patronizing white tokenism”
As the hatchet job by Leslie Radford, the GM at KPFK, … continues, while Ms. Radford herself appears to … the fact that this is all about ideology and not economics needs to be made clear. It is petty and personal, racist and anti-Semitic, and also about getting rid of what she and her revolutionary cohorts see as the entrenched white privilege of Westside liberals who are shills for the Democratic Party.
Wait – anti-Semitic? People’s Front of Judea, or the Judean People’s Front? And bear in mind these people are all on the same side politically.
An even crueler joke is that soon the very union members that have been busted and downsized, are expected to raise funds in yet another month of on-air fundraising to save the station for the sleeper cell of scabs anxiously waiting to take over the airwaves and bring on the revolution.
In the absence of significant opposition, leftists have to be the most fractious people on earth. They don’t have a scintilla of compromise in them, and utterly lack perspective on what is important and what isn’t.
‘Twas ever thus.
(While in a protracted drafting phase – because life – published this gem – a must-read – on the same topic.)
10/5/2015 Update: Powerline has a further update on this train wreck.