By Tracy Rosenberg
Published July 10th 2006 in Indybay
Berkeley's KPFA-FM radio station, the subject of a bitter struggle in 1999 which culminated in a month-long lockout by hostile management, is launching its 2006 board elections. One of the very few media outlets to vest ownership in its subscribers, KPFA listeners were victorious in their pathbreaking lawsuit to prevent the sale of the 57 year old community radio station In the settlement that was approved by the courts, subscribers gained the right to directly elect their local board of directors.
The election committee, which will be coordinating the process of recruiting candidates and publicizing the election will have its next meeting at KPFA-FM, 1929 Martin Luther King Jr Drive (at Berkeley Way) on Wednesday July 12 at 7pm. Refreshments will be available.. Volunteers are needed - especially with skills in outreach, good contacts with community organizations, publicity, and design - but all are welcome and will be put to work.
Nominations open for candidates on July 25th and will remain open until September 25th. Volunteers with experience working in community organizations, in grass-roots media and Bay Area activism are sincerely invited to consider running for the board. Contact ballot [at] pacifica.org for more information on becoming a candidate.
KPFA listeners (and new listeners) can become foundation subscribers by donating $25 to KPFA or booking 3 hours of volunteer work at the station by August 31st, 2006. Listeners who have already donated $25 or more in the 12 month period between September 1, 2005 and August 31, 2006 will be sent ballots in the mail. Ballots will be sent on October 15, 2006 via 1st class mail with a return date of November 15th, 2006.
KPFA's election process uses a variation of the proportional representation system popularized by Lani Guinier, as a remedy to some of the pitfalls of winner-takes-all election systems. Using ranked choice voting allows minority viewpoints that are strongly held to register in the final results even if their numbers are not as large.
Maintaining this unique system of listener-ownership and proportional representation requires meeting a quroum of subscriber votes. Subscribing to the station and voting in the election is an important way to protect grass-roots media and make sure that community assets are not sold out from under the people who build and support them.