'Corporate Takeover'? Radical-Left D.C. Pacifica Station Moving Toward 'Mainstream' Talk

Saturday's Washington Post reported “For more than three decades, noncommercial station WPFW-FM  in Washington has been a feisty voice of sometimes radical leftist politics — relentlessly anti-war, anti-corporate and anti-Republican.” Sometimes radical?

The Pacifica network specializes in hard-left (even Marxist) diatribes that appeal to tiny audiences. Post reporter Paul Farhi relayed they’re going a bit “mainstream,” toward the NPR empire, dialing down “jazz and justice” and playing up liberal talk:

WPFW’s new shows will include [minority-focused] “Tell Me More” from NPR, and Public Radio International’s “The Tavis Smiley Show,” “The Takeaway” and “Smiley and West” (co-hosted by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West). “Tell Me More” is already broadcast on another local public station, WAMU-FM (88.5).

"Tell Me More" already airs in DC on WAMU-FM at 2 pm on weekdays.

"We have to stop the hemorraging, said General Manager John Hughes, who said the current lineup resulted in "dwindling audiences." WPFW currently ranks 28th in ratings in the Washington DC market and is facing its third straight annual deficit, now approaching $200,000.

Some of the radical regulars are calling this a "corporate takeover." A real corporate takeover would go much more to the "right" and remove all the Pacifica content. WPFW airs the Pacifica morning show "Democracy Now" with Amy Goodman and is picking up the Pacifica show "Letters and Politics" with Mitch Jeserich.

Farhi’s story avoided any direct quotation of wild-eyed Pacifica content – like, oh, comparing American evangelicals like Michele Bachmann to North Korean despots and Iranian ayatollahs.

The Post also avoided mentioning the public money that pours into WPFW – more than $305,000 in 2010, according to the last annual report posted online by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Pacifica Foundation in that year reported the receipt of more than $1,150,000 from the CPB for its five stations.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis