No Free Speech For Ian Masters at KPFK
by Ed Murray
Dateline: Los Angeles
An interesting conversation occurred on Ian Masters’ Background Briefing yesterday, Sunday October 11, 2015. Program Director Alan Minsky was on Ian’s show to pitch for money and support for the latest KPFK fund drive and Masters mentioned that during the recent period when he was ill “a group of people tried to take me off the air.” As the conversation progressed, he asked “Why should I raise funds for people who are trying to get me off the air?” Actually, a relevant question in the light of all the award winning show hosts who have either been cut, or have resigned recently. The feeling among many of the hosts is that the new faction that has taken over Pacifica has some kind of secret hit list for shows they want removed. Some off-the-record talk at some past LSB meetings indicated that Alan Minsky might also be on that list. This could all be written off as just run of the mill criticism that has existed among the different factions. Or it could be real.
Some snippets from the show:
Masters: “…so I could be taken off the air for mentioning the name of the person who runs Pacifica?”
“Here we are, Free Speech Radio and we can’t even mention the name of the person who runs Pacifica?”
Minsky: “You could be taken off the air if you continue this kind of conversation depending on the words you say.”
Masters: “These people don’t appreciate anything I do. They are clearly in a different universe.”…….
“The idea that you could be taken off the air for mentioning the name of the head of Pacifica is so insane.”
Alan Minsky and Ian Masters have been friends for a long time. Minsky said he was a free speech purist, but that Pacifica had rules about disparaging any other program hosts or station officials. The pressure on many of the hosts lately has been intense, especially with an on-going union action and the very survival of the network at stake. Most of us out here in the radio listening audience wouldn’t mind hearing from the hosts on air as to what is happening at KPFK and Pacifica, and what the feelings and opinions of the staff are at this time. After all, we are listening to real-live people, not robots, so anyone who has listened to a particular host for years would want to know their views on the current crises. Possibly there should be a round-table discussion on air, with members of the staff voicing their opinions as to what’s wrong at Pacific and some proposed solutions. From the look of things, the new ruling faction is having a lot of trouble in correct decision-making and maybe some input from the staff would be helpful. Anyone stepping into the leadership of Pacifica is a public figure, and should be ready to receive some body blows from the public for bad decisions. Be ready to take responsibility for your bad or ineffective actions is the rule in business and politics.
What is known, without a shadow of a doubt, that the present ruling faction, going back several years, has made some disastrous decisions. Right now, the most important task is to get the business end of Pacifica in order: the financial mess, the audits, the premiums, the accounting. A station can survive a while with unpopular programming, but blowing the money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, failure to keep up with F.C.C rules, and the State of California rules, could be a death-blow. Not even to mention what will come of the fiasco with the union.