The LA Weekly‘s piece about the decline of Pacifica is a really terrific read. I’ll pick out a few choice bits at random. First, the ratings:
Pacifica has a long and storied history, and still features such leading liberals as Amy Goodman, the widely known host of Democracy Now! (on which journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill are frequent guests), but it has fallen on hard times of late. Listenership, according Reese, is “extraordinarily low.” During an average 15-minute period, just 700 people listen to its Los Angeles station, 90.7 FM KPFK, for at least five minutes, according to Nielsen Audio, which monitors radio ratings.
For L.A.’s other public radio stations, KCRW and KPCC, that number is 8,000 and 20,000, respectively. KPFK draws roughly one one-thousandth of all radio listeners in the Metro Los Angeles area.
Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI, is even worse off, with too few listeners to register on the Arbitron rankings, and is all but bankrupt. Last year, most of the staff was laid off, including the entire news department.
Facebook and twitter followers will have heard me complain incessantly about the local NPR station’s pledge drives, which rather than what might think is the mutually beneficially arrangement of interspersing the pledge drive with listenable content like news updates, consist of nothing but people asking for money for days on end. (Does anyone listen to this for more than 3 minutes at time?) But, at least, we’re spared Alex Jones-caliber conspiracy theories:
A National Public Radio fund drive, such as those heard in Los Angeles on much bigger KCRW and KPCC, is a mix of cloying boosterism, promises of tote bags and begging. A Pacifica fund drive, meanwhile, sounds like a never-ending infomercial for products created by a street-corner lunatic.
Take, for example, a five-DVD set titled “The Great Lies of History,” which includes five documentaries by Italian filmmaker Massimo Mazzucco: The Second Dallas; The New American Century; UFOs and the Military Elite; The True History of Marijuana; and Cancer: The Forbidden Cures. Cancer features Dr. Tullio Simoncini, an Italian doctor who claims to treat cancer, which he says originates with a fungus, with sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda.
“There was a woman [diagnosed with] cancer of the uterus,” Mazzucco recently explained to KPFK producer Christine Blosdale on air. “She tried the Simoncini method. She healed by herself by simply doing douches, washing with sodium bicarbonate. The cancer’s gone, and now she can have babies. Of course, that’s one less patient the cancer industry had to milk from.”
I now feel slightly better about academic meetings:
Board elections cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 — no small price for a network with a $13 million annual budget. The meetings themselves cost about $20,000 each to fly in 20-plus people and put them up for the weekend, and they’re dominated by bickering. Members regularly invoke Robert’s Rules of Order, and can take half an hour simply to approve the minutes of a previous meeting.
And lest you think the only relevant actors in the farce are the ultraleft, former Pajamas Media associate Marc Cooper makes an appearance to compare other factions at Pacifica to both Nazis and the Khmer Rouge and call Amy Goodman an “evil bitch.”