KPFA managers to remove critic Sonali Kolhatkar from the air

KPFA Worker

KPFA’s interim managers admitted this week that they intend to remove a program by Sonali Kolhatkar, a critic of  management, replacing it with a show by management ally Steve Zeltzer.

Sonali Kolhatkar

Interim program director Carrie Core acknowledged plans to axe the weekly program Uprising, which originates from KPFA’s sister station KPFK. The program is hosted by Kolhatkar and includes weekly commentaries by Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report. Core has not yet announced when the change will take place. Uprising has aired on KPFA since 2009 every Saturday at 11 am.

Kolhatkar made a public stand of solidarity with KPFA’s union workers when Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt removed the KPFA Morning Show in November, laid off its hosts, and — against Kolhatkar’s wishes — ran the daily version of Uprising in place of the Morning Show. Kolhatkar read a statement on KPFK’s and KPFA’s air saying that she was very unhappy about her program being used in that way by Pacifica management and that she stood with KPFA’s workers. Kolhatkar also wrote this solidarity letter, and interviewed laid-off KPFA worker Brian Edwards-Tiekert (whom Pacifica was later forced to reinstate), as well as Engelhardt on the program.

Kolhatkar, a long-time Pacifica journalist, has also done interviews critical of conspiracy theories, particularly about September 11th. Since parent network Pacifica’s installation of interim managers Andrew Phillips and Carrie Core, such 9/11 theories have been given increasing amounts of time of KPFA’s air.

“The official reason being given for Uprising’s removal is that other programs are already covering the issues we do,” Kolhatkar writes on the Uprising website. “This is strange given that all good journalistic enterprises are expected to cover the issues of the day.” She added that Uprising is one of the highest-rated programs on KPFK.

Along with hosting Uprising, Kolhatkar is the co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, which works in solidarity with the Revolutionary Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and has brought Malalai Joya to the United States. She’s also the author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence.

Managers installing their “labor correspondent” 

The same managers who supported paying over $70,000 to fight the station’s unionworkers have put their ally Zeltzer forward as the station’s “labor correspondent,” replacing long-time KPFA producer David Bacon, who declared his solidarity with the station’s laid-off workers when the Morning Show was axed.

David Bacon

Bacon is the author of several books, including Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants. Labor activists are demanding that management return Bacon to the airwaves, along with other programmers targeted by Pacifica. Four Bay Area labor councils have passed resolutions against management’s actions.

Management has been using the buzz words “local programming” as an excuse to give its allies more airtime and remove those who oppose Pacifica’s top-down agenda. “The real issue is local control at KPFA,” said one long-time staffer. “Our listeners are tired of Pacifica-backed managers making stupid, top-down decisions, and replacing excellent programs with virtually unlistenable ones hosted by their friends,” he said. Both Core and Phillips are interim managers, appointed by Pacifica with no input from the community, and as such, they should not be making any program changes.

Attempts to silence KPFA’s workers

Current pro-Pacifica management is worried that more listeners are finding out the truth of what is happening at KPFA. Managers freely

David Gans

broadcast their own anti-union positions and Pacifica’s, but slap “disciplinary actions” or gag rules on KPFA’s workers when they speak their minds about the radio network they have labored to build over decades.

Unpaid music programmer David Gans, who hosts Dead to the World, got this letter of warning from Core for brief on-air comments last week that were critical of management. Core previously disciplined paid staffers Mitch Jeserich, John Hamilton and Mark Mericle for on-air mentions of staff layoffs. Phillips lashed out at both unpaid and paid news staffers for merely reporting his comments on underwriting and “business sponsorships” for KPFA.

Gans, who is also an elected member of KPFA’s Local Station Board, calls his warning letter “another salvo in an ongoing battle for the soul of KPFA and Pacifica,” and urges supporters to sign the recall petition against board member Tracy Rosenberg, a key management supporter.

ACTION ALERT: Here’s how you can help!

Call interim manager Carrie Core at 510-848-6767 ext. 209 or email her via KPFA’s comments page to object to her changing KPFA’s programming and trying to silence KPFA staff. You can also send a message of solidarity to Sonali Kolhatkar and “like” a Facebook page that has been set up to support her program: Keep Uprising on KPFA!.

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