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Wall St. and Business Wednesdays: Open Letter From The Hard Knock Radio Staff

It is with profound urgency that we write this letter to the people with
whom we have built this great community institution we call Hard Knock Radio
(HKR). Without your genuine love and support, we never would have made it
this far.

HKR was birthed from the struggle to save KPFA in 1999. We represent part of
the promise KPFA made to listeners then to transform and diversify its
airwaves. Since those early days, we have become one of the most
cutting-edge, unique and innovative hour-long programs in all of Public
Radio. HKR is setting the standard by which HipHop on Public Radio will be
measured. HKR represents a savvy generational shift in progressive
programming -- mixing culture and politics in a new way that makes the
social justice movement attractive to the HipHop Generation.

As many of you know, funding for Public Radio is constantly threatened by
government forces who do not value free speech and community-minded media.
The people who stand to lose the most are the next generation of listeners:
people of color and youth, poor folks, and immigrants. These audiences --
grossly under-served by Public Radio, but readily courted by Commercial
Radio -- are being reached and politicized by HKR, because we understand how
to speak to their concerns, engage in sincere outreach to their communities,
and provide them with programming that is neither patronizing nor
alienating. Without HKR as a lightning rod, these audiences may abandon
Pacifica and KPFA entirely.

Contrary to almost all of Pacifica/KPFA’s public affairs programming, HKR is
not designed to be an alternative to NPR; HKR is the alternative to
Commercial Radio, and we are rooted in the principles of Media Justice. Part
of our mission is to remedy the failure of progressive radio and the
progressive movement to bring the most marginalized communities to the

Unfortunately, even at a community radio station such as KPFA, our efforts
to press for inclusion and Media Justice are being thwarted by the new
General Manager, Roy Campanella II. Campanella has expressed a desire to
take ownership of the name ‘Hard Knock Radio’ from us; he has revoked
promised staffing resources; he has helped foster a hostile workplace for
women and HKR Staff in particular; and he has made attempts to divide HKR
Staff. There is increasing evidence indicating Campanella has spread harmful
lies about HKR Staff, apparently in an effort to build a case to take
certain HKR Staff off the air. On May 5, Campanella assaulted HKR Executive
Producer Weyland Southon with a threat of physical violence.

Campanella has made it clear -- through bullying and gossiping -- that his
intention is to crush HKR. We refuse to abandon all that we have done in the
last five years to build a NEW audience for KPFA, Pacifica, and Public
Radio. We will not allow such progressives to continue to marginalize and
ghettoize programming for young people and communities of color. We regret
that it has come to this. But HKR must continue it’s mission and it’s

For many of our listeners who appreciate our work and accomplishments, the
fact that HKR has become a target of abuse at KPFA, probably comes as a
complete shock. For us, there is little mystery. Our very existence has
challenged mediocrity. Since graduating from KPFA’s Apprenticeship Program
in 1995, HKR Executive Producer Weyland Southon has been a very outspoken
critic of KPFA’s status quo. HKR has been targeted because we have emerged
as a direct threat to KPFA’s entrenched powers that be.

As employees of a progressive institution, we are alarmed by the lack of due
process afforded us in this crisis. We have received no indication from
Pacifica or KPFA leadership that our concerns about workplace safety are
being given any validity. The unapologetic conspiracy of silence and overall
inaction of Pacifica management and the Local Station Board is suspect.

This crisis has seriously disrupted our production, and is imposing
incredible hardships on the HKR Staff who still work at KPFA daily. The
unwillingness of Pacifica and KPFA’s Local Station Board to resolve these
issues effectively is literally jeopardizing the future existence of Hard
Knock Radio on the Pacifica Network. We have exhausted all internal
processes regarding this matter. Our last resort is to fully inform our
listener-supporters and ask that you have our backs.

Our demands and needs are simple and fair:

1) Roy Campanella II should resign for creating and fostering a hostile
workplace for KPFA workers – especially women and HKR Staff. His monumental
mismanagement of KPFA puts our FCC license renewal at risk. We need and
deserve professional, responsible, and visionary leadership that is willing
to build a team that will KPFA into the future. We demand a safe and
equitable workplace.

2) HKR has been victimized by neglect and gross mismanagement at Pacifica
and KPFA since our inception. We demand honest, efficient, and transparent
management practices. We demand fair and supportive supervision. We demand
an end to management favoritism and cronyism.

3) We want an equitable distribution of resources, and demand that HKR be
given the highest possible budget priority. We want Pacifica and KPFA to
support and implement our innovative off-air fundraising strategies so we
can be more self-sufficient. We demand the necessary institutional support
to reach our goals so that HKR can realize its fullest potential as a tool
for social change. We demand the right of self-determination.

4) All persons responsible for this attack on HKR should be held accountable
for their words and actions. Write letters in support of HKR directly to
KPFA’s Local Station Board. Letters typed on letterhead carry more weight
than emails, so we are encouraging people to fax letters to 510.532.8461
and/or send mail C/O Tumi’s, 3028 International Blvd, Oakland, CA, 94601.
For emails, go to and fill out the prompt. Email the
Pacifica Foundation National Board direct at Be sure to
cc all emails to HKR at so that we can make your support

Yours in Struggle,

HKR Staff
Weyland Southon, Executive Producer
Anita Johnson, Senior Producer
David ‘Davey D’ Cook, Host
Favianna Rodriguez, Correspondent
Thenmozhi Soundarajan, Correspondent
Nishat Kurwa, Correspondent
Michael ‘Mike Biggz’ McKenna, Board Operator

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

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