For Immediate Release: April 22, 2021 Media Contact: Zack Kaldveer, 510-938-2664
(CA) On Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael L. Stern ruled on multiple motions by Defendants in a legal complaint against two longtime Pacifica Radio Foundation Board of Directors for alleged misfeasance and malfeasance, gross negligence, unlawful conduct, and financial mismanagement.
Judge Stern sustained the defense demur motion to dismiss the complaint and granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint, specifically stating what he wanted to see included in their amended complaint. Judge Stern also denied a motion to require the plaintiffs to post a bond to pay the defendants’ legal fees should they prevail. The Judge further urged all the attorneys to consider mediation; the defendants have previously refused to do so.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Stephen Jaffe, stated, “We are pleased with the court’s rulings and confident justice will ultimately be done in this case.”
Judge Stern’s decision represents a significant step forward for those seeking to save the iconic radio network from insolvency and mismanagement. Plaintiffs have presented the court with a voluminous documents, damning records, internal communications, audio recordings, independent audits, and California Attorney General (CAG) admonishments that detail how the longtime mismanagement and conduct by members of the Pacifica Board has caused the severe loss of income to the Network and led to the potential impending selloff of its assets. See the court documents. The legal action seeks to require the defendants reimburse the Network for money lost due to their mismanagement and unlawful conduct.
“The Board’s actions reveal how Pacifica Foundation has been hijacked by fringe sectarian splinter groups which orchestrated changed programming, from Holocaust denial, promoting fringe conspiracies and quack cures for AIDs and cancer. They have compromised Pacifica’s mission, and squandered its integrity,” said Sherry Gendelman, Pacifica Safety Net (PSN) president. “Programming on this once venerable progressive network often sounds eerily similar to something you might hear from Alex Jones or read in a QAnon chat room.”
The Pacifica board, in the face of this lawsuit, continues to undermine the management of its Los Angeles Station, KPFK, once a star in its radio universe. The Board recently terminated the station’s entire management team, which led to the subsequent resignation of its respected General Manager, Anyel Fields. The dominos fell, as key programmers left the airwaves — specifically The Jimmy Dore Show and Rising Up with Sonali – the station’s two most highly rated shows. The board also terminated the long-standing show, Roy Of Hollywood, known to many in Los Angeles. All these popular programs were major fundraisers for KPFK.
The Board is now taking money from its Flagship station, KPFA, to be used to pay the personal legal fees for the defendants. “That’s like the guy who mugs a victim and then demands his victim pay for his defense lawyer,” said attorney Stephen Jaffe. This highly improper use of Bay area donor funds may lead to further legal action by the plaintiffs.
The Pacifica Foundation launched the first listener supported public broadcast station over 70 years ago. Pacifica owns non-commercial FM radio stations in five of the nation’s top 10 markets, including: KPFA in the SF Bay area (founded in 1949); KPFK in Los Angeles (1959); WBAI in New York City (1960); KPFT in Houston (1970); WPFW in Washington, D.C. (1977) and an affiliate distribution network of 200+ radio stations. Pacifica reaches over 60 million potential listeners and is valued at over $130 million dollars. Today, there are less than 40,000 members of the network, compared to over 120,000 prior to 2008.