‘Twas Ever Thus

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.

Source: ‘This is the end’: leftwing Pacifica Radio affiliates enter protracted death spiral | Media | The Guardian

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.

3 comments to “‘Twas Ever Thus”
  1. I’m amazed it has taken Pacifica — and KPFK, with which I’m more familiar — so long to die. The roots of failure extend all the way back to its beginning, and have been evident for decades.

    As one who was an occasional host of a show (resolutely non-political, so it was a wonder that it hung on for many years) at KPFK, I was always amused when I found the station peopled (or should that be “personed”?) by a rag-tag bunch of leftist incompetents. Their ranks were broken at time by minor-league professional radio types brought in to ensure all the wires were properly plugged in. One would not have been surprised to see the parking lot filled with VW Microbuses and Trabants.

    What they DID have down to a “T”, as JG notes, was their ideology. The bulletin boards were plastered with demands from management that on-air “talent” adhere to the correct catch-phrases, pronunciations and innuendi that sold the ultra-liberal product. None of those words or phrases ever appeared in the shows I was involved with, thank goodness….

    I don’t believe the audience grew beyond a couple dozen in the best times. I was never certain anyone outside the building could pick up the signal.

    I had a lot of fun there, but was constantly choking back laughter at the antics of pathetic old dream-stupefied hippies and business-savvy “revolutionaries” who ran the place. They were almost certainly waiting for the government they reviled to lay big loot on them so they could continue their communist propaganda in peace.

  2. Ha!
    I actually know someone who uses Pacifica as a distributor. He does EDM music less so political. Of course he makes us listen to his show while we’re down at deer camp (his house his rules I suppose. It’s not bad music to drink and play cards too.)
    Nevertheless we have to flip the station ASAP afterwards because pretty much everything else is crazed bullshit.

  3. “Crazed bullshit” is the best description yet of programming from Pacifica stations!

    Imagine a building full of not-so-sanitary Rachel Madcows and Tim Leary-wannabes and you have a pretty fair idea of the staff. Oh, and lesbian motorcyclists and Caribbean ganja-heads….

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