Say No to Marci Lockwood

Labor Committee on the Middle East (
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 20:59:29 -0700 (PDT)


I do not have the e-mail address for the IGC board so I would very much appreciate you forwarding this letter to them and e-mailing to me when that's been done. Thanks again. Jeff Blankfort

To: Board of Directors, IGC From: Jeffrey Blankfort (melblcome)

I understand that Marci Lockwood, currently General Manager at KPFA, is being considered for the position of permanent executive director of IGC. News that she had applied for the position came as a considerable shock to me to as it has to other activists and members of the KPFA staff who are familiar with her conduct as General Manager of the station.

In case you have not been following the local media, and the Bay Guardian, in particular, considerable criticism has been focused on Lockwood's management of KPFA and the actions of its owner, Pacifica Radio, over the past year and a half. Both locally and nationally, they have been accused, in general terms, of moving away from Pacifica's historic mission as a community-oriented alternative to the mainstream media and for wilfully abandoning their well advertised claim to be the "voice of the voiceless. In all of this, Lockwood has played a major role.

In August, 1995, under the Orwellian mantra of "Radio with Vison," and in concert with Program Director Ginny Berson, she fired more than 40 long-time and part-time programmers, with a particular focus on radical community activists like Tony Gonzales, of the International Treaty Council, and Emiliano Echeverria and Former Black Panther Kiilu Nyasha, whose program, Freedom is a Constant Struggle, had been a KPFA weekly mainstay for more than two decades. Labor reporting was reduced to one 25 minute segment each week and nothing but music was scheduled after 7 p.m., making the station virtually indistinguishable from the fare on the rest of the dial and of little value for those who work for living and listen to the radio in the evening. This was done without input from either staff or the station's listening audience. (Nyasha, who had to learn second hand that her program was cancelled, was brought into several programming meetings to provide the illusion of participation, but was not informed what was really going on.) The wholesale firing of what had been the core of the station's programming aroused a massive response among disaffected listeners who came together as Take Back KPFA. A post-card and letter writing campaign and demands raised at a series of meetings attended by more than 300 angry listeners, and on two occasions by Lockwood herself, she ignored. When she has spoken, either on the air or at the station's Advisory Board meetings, it has been either to lie or to evade the truth. Lockwood has repeatedly lied to staff, to the public and to the station's advisory board on virtually every critical issue affecting policy and programming. Moreover, she has publicly been accused of such by both listeners and a member of the advisory board.

The most recent example was her defense of Pacifica's hiring of the American Consulting Group (ACG), a notorious anti-union agency, that was brought in to write a contract that would effectively decimate the unions at KPFA and Pacifica's New York station, WBAI. To explain what was certainly an unconscionable action by a station that prides itself on being committed to labor, Lockwood, like her boss, Pacifica Executive Director Pat Scott, kept coming up with different answers.

When, in response to questioning by a advisory board member, she said that Pacifica had heard about ACG through a flyer received in the mail, she was asked by the board member to produce the flyer. Not only was the flyer not produced, the board member was unable to get any kind of response from either Lockwood or Scott to his request. Now, Pacifica's management, with Lockwood not objecting, is still publicly pretending that it has no evidence of ACG's anti-union activities.

On March 11, Pacifica's new communications director, Burt Glass, issued a "confidential memorandum" containing questions that may be addressed to station managers by the media and listeners and answers they are expected to give. Here's what the memo says about ACG: "To our chagrin, we then heard allegations [from Take Back KPFA] that the firm had participated in some anti-union activities in its history. To this day, we have been unable to verify these allegations."

Among ACG's better known clients are RJR Nabisco, Union Carbide, Sony, Dupont, TRW, Sony and closer to home, the Lafayette Park Hotel which Local 2850 of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers in Oakland, has been trying to organize for the last year and a half.

What is additionally onerous is that no one from either Pacifica or KPFA, neither Lockwood or Scott herself, has uttered a word of regret about using ACG. There is also a matter of the money from listeners donations that was paid to ACG. Scott first said it was $2,000 (East Bay Express). Then she lowered the figure to $1,000. We have it from good sources that the figure was $30,000, which included representing KPFK in Los Angeles at negotiating sessions with that station's union. Lockwood repeats the $1,000 figure. Our request that the books be opened to see who is telling the truth has been, like everything else, ignored.

On earlier occasions, Lockwood repeatedly libeled and slandered, both on the air and in the Bay Guardian, my friend and colleague, Maria Gilardin, another IGC subscriber, falsely accusing her of acts of violence at a Pacifica board meeting despite the existence of a video taken at the event which shows absolutely nothing of the sort.

Responding to a listener who heard her on-air accusation against Maria and who had viewed the video at Berkeley's La Pena, she dismissed the video as having been "edited." The only reason that Lockwood was not taken to court over this was that no local lawyer could be found who would take a case against KPFA.

Moreover, she refused to issue either a private or public apology when the KPFA news department reported that she, Scott, and Program Director Ginny Berson, had been left death threats on their telephone answering machines, "presumably by members of Take Back KPFA." Since a statement that I had made at a Take Back KPFA press conference was used on the air during KPFA's evening "news" report, (without mentioning that the conference had even taken place), the report implied that I, as well as my TBK colleagues, were linked to these threats of violence.

Whether such threats existed at all is in doubt. Lockwood, when questioned at an advisory board meeting, said that she had reported them to the Berkeley police. Two checks with the Berkeley police, conducted independently, revealed that no threats of any sort had been reported by Lockwood, Scott, Berson or by anyone connected to KPFA or Pacifica.

She also has participated in and defended the decision by Scott to hold the last five Pacifica national board meetings almost entirely in executive session, a patent violation of federal open meeting laws. This matter is presently under investigation by the office of the Inspector General for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a report is expected to be issued by the CPB Board of Directors next month.

In many ways, the IGC is like Pacifica, growing from PeaceNet of some years back into what has become the server of choice for many long-time progressive activists such as myself. When I went on- line there was no question of selecting another server and I have had no reason until to now to question that decision.

Finally, I can assure you that the controversy concerning KPFA and Pacifica will not go away. It would truly be unfortunate if IGC, through hiring Lockwood, become dragged into it. (The controversy will, in fact, expand. I have just been informed that the new issue of the KPFA folio will be the last issue, and the editor had to read the text of the "letter to the listener" from station development director, Amina Hassan, to find out! That's the way KPFA management treats its long-time employees.)

I regret to say that if Lockwood is given this or any position with the IGC, I will have no choice but to sever my connection with IGC and I will recommend to my many friends and colleagues on IGC that they do the same. I am also distributing this letter to members of the staff and other concerned IGC subscribers.

I appreciate the consideration I am sure you will give this matter


Jeffrey Blankfort

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