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Photo by Kevin Butz on Unsplash

Photo by Kevin Butz on Unsplash

With increasingly unhinged right-wing forces a hare’s breath away from retaking both houses of Congress—and maybe even the White House next time around—those of us on the progressive side of the ledger need all the ammunition we can get.

Thank you everyone who responded to our Pacifica survey. Scroll down to see 300 responses.

The Pacifica Radio Network—with its five stations, including KPFK in Los Angeles—was designed long ago to provide some of that much-needed firepower.

But for at least twenty years, Pacifica has been plagued with declining listenership, financial struggle, and internal leadership conflicts—hampering its ability to combat the conservative voices increasingly dominating the airwaves.

All of us should be asking, "Why don't we have a strong progressive national media network?"

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The outcome of the survey we launched this week gives some sense of how LA Progressive’s readers feel about Pacifica's dilemma. THANK YOU to everyone who responded. Those who haven't can still participate in the survey.

We are urging Pacifica listeners toVOTE YES on New Day Pacifica in the upcoming June 7th Pacifica election.

Of the 160 responses totalled to date—a solid turnout for this kind of poll—37% call themselves regular listeners of Pacifica, with 25% of them listening every day. Another 33% either only very occasionally tune in or have stopped listening altogether. Then, 30% never listen or haven't even heard of the network.

Here are the results so far.

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More than 44% of respondents say they turn to Pacifica channels for news, though more turn to mainstream media (67%) or progressive online magazines like Truthout or LA Progressive (72%—though mind you they were responding to an LA Progressive survey).

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More to the point than these general statistics are over 300 comments from survey takers. The vast majority of survey respondents who listen to Pacifica believe it is in trouble. Their recommendations fell into five major categories:

  1. Fix the Finances
  2. Broaden Its Reach
  3. Improve Programming
  4. Address Internal Conflicts
  5. Declare War on Conservative/Moderate media

When asked how they would improve Pacifica, many respondents laid out very specific recovery plans. Others had thoughtful comments about the current hullaboo. Rather than attempt to sort, group, or skew those responses, we list a number of them here, followed by a link to all of them. You're welcome to add your comments below.

  • Break up Pacifica. There seems to be no other way to get rid of all of the problems. Maybe keep those stations which function well. Get rich supporters like Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Jack Black, Joni Mitchel, Mimi Kennedy, Lebron James, Jane Fonda, Al Gore, etc to give a lot to pay for the launch of the new station that has hired real professionals and accountants. The big signal has to be maintained.
  • Pacifica missed the opportunity to become a university of the air-waves...thus allowing degree earning students to be supported and funded by their local Pacifica radio station...and in turn providing income to the stations involved...allowing for a rapid spread trained journalists, technicians etc..
  • Pacifica has taken a real dive in the last year or so. Instead of edgy, radical news breaking reports, Pacifica has gone the way of NPR with human interest and liked news. I would return to the original format.
  • I think the first order of business needs to be to get more people like me aware of Pacifica. Next would be to generate a backing of paying subscribers. Third would be to develop effective outreach to counter the inevitable badmouthing of Pacifica that can be expected from the likes of Fox News.

It may not be the best advice, but I really want to see the Left become more assertive. I do not want violence, but the Left could be more aggressive in attacking the Right.

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  • It may not be the best advice, but I really want to see the Left become more assertive. I do not want violence, but the Left could be more aggressive in attacking the Right.
  • Not to feel as dry. Also, it's good to have progressive leftist programming but also have Moderate programming with leftist viewpoints so that more of a mass audience can relate. More programming from the viewpoint of the everyday person and what they are going through and how progressive policies are helping them in their life.
  • Declare war on liberal AND conservative media - two different flavors of the same propaganda. Be fiercely independent. You cannot frame stuff as "fighting back against the right" since the left as just as, if not more corrupt. Rebrand as the ONLY source of propaganda-free news. Attack the phony narratives. tell the truth about Covid and Israel and the USA being the world's biggest terrorist state and Biden being a lifelong conman/grifter. That's a good place to start. You have to win people back by telling the truth. That's how Krystal and Saagar did it.
  • Oh, so many ways. There has to be a rejiggering of mentality, and there should be a push for foundation money -- really -- to create real people's news. Produced and directed by and given by the people -- the poor, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the BIPOC, marginalized, and those of us who are hard left socialists, communists.
  • Dispense with the snake-oil and magic crystal shows. How can Pacifica brag about its honesty when it is peddling false medical claims for untested products?
  • KPFK needs to be better integrated with the struggles and issues of local communities. Needs to do better outreach and marketing. Many local people are not aware of Pacifica. Beyond issues taken on by progressive, issues of concern to regular working people need to be highlighted.
  • Get the financial house in order so we can stop being in perpetual fundraising mode. Ditch the new age hucksterism. Selling highly questionable items and get rich programs belong on the home shopping network for gullible morons not on Pacifica and FIRE Christine Blasdale because she is the one pushing these things!!!
  • I would make Pacifica more present and participatory in society beyond its daily broadcast. I moved to LA in 2003 and was immediately aware of KCRW and KPCC, and LA Weekly. They sponsor and are present at cultural events. Many people talk about them. I do not ever recall Pacifica arising in any conversation. Pacifica has never come up in web search results for any news story for which I have ever searched for more information.
  • Sell it off and use the proceeds to finance a modern, progressive digital imprint.
  • Hate, really HATE to say it, but one has to somehow catch people in their 20's and 30's a bit more (I'm in 60's)... if only fleetingly that their electronic address in given if poss. Then keep up-dating them with things periodically. And making the archive system as cutting-edge as possible, so, for example, "Something's Happening" doesn't HAVE to be listened to in the middle of the night, possibly increasing listener-ship by a dozen-fold eventually. Other matters deserve hard thinking about.
  • Improve the financial condition of the station so we are not subjected to the incessant fund drives! Cut WBAI and Gary Null off and stop paying the rent/mortgage on that expensive NY office building. Make Democracy Now! broadcast from Amy or Juan's place and declare a jubilee on the massive debt Gary Null has accrued towards Pacifica. He's got enough moolah from his health food store there in Manhattan.
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  • People used to listen to FDR's "fireside chats," because they knew who was speaking and what time the "chat" was going to take place. What if organizers selected two hours per week as "21st Century Fireside Chats." Schedule well known Progressive leaders to share their thoughts about issues that are crucial to the lives of "ordinary people."
  • Get the hippie-dippy New Age baloney off. More Barbara Prescod, more Rich Jeserich, more Marxist analysis, more communists.
  • Reorganize a la New Day so that the larger stations won't be broken up to save the debt-ridden stations....and keep our local control to address the needs of all of Pacifica.
  • Get your top media people to become household names with a rigorous PR campaign that gets them on TV, radio, social media, etc.
  • Streamline the governing process; create a fundraising arm or development office nationally with networks in every Pacifica region or market area. Actively survey the listeners on usefulness of program offerings; stabilize the management and leadership locally and nationally.
  • The non-stop fundraising let’s the audience know that something is not right with the organization. I listen all the time and have to wonder who is running the organization. I know there’s support for the station + incredible amount of quality volunteers donating their work. It would be great to get a solid business structure to match the strength of the signal.
  • Make it less corporate and more diverse. Talk about workers and unions and have cultural programs that reflect the communities they serve. What happened to "Straight No Chaser"? I loved that music program. another great show? Smoke Rings. Have music appreciation programs with the experts in music like Gustave Dudamel. Interview guests like Professor Gerald Horne who wrote the authoritative book on Jazz titled, "The Political Economy of Jazz". interview real intellectuals, not posers.
  • By maintaining its democratic governance structure and establishing a task force to learn and teach -- working with all five stations -- how to effectively utilize the network's archived programs (which is most of them) to tap into the podcasting world, the medium typically used by members of younger generations to access audio programming. And NEVER AGAIN cynically betray the founder's pacifism (the source of the network's name) by resorting to transparent fascism: sending violent thugs to a Pacifica station (that was, btw, GIVEN to the network, along with more than a decade of massive financial support from the benefactor, which is how Pacifica was able to survive and expand) to terrorize staff, cause extensive damage and frighten the landlord, who had always been a Pacifica supporter, with the goal -- at the very least -- of quashing local community control at that station.
  • Better organized websites would permit access to podcasts by subject. Comments within those areas could be moderated. Content could be tagged and reposted to social media sites.
  • Pacifica needs a social media strategist
  • Pacifica can spread itself into red states via social media, especially with regard to Calendars, elections, events, and partners