Character assassination

My fellow KPFA Local Station Board member, Tracy Rosenberg, posted the following on a “North Bay for KPFA” mailing list.

David Gans, who has hosted Dead to the World (the Grateful Dead Hour) on KPFA for about 34 years now, was not engaged in free speech. He was engaged in censorship speech, decrying on-air the programming of his unpaid colleagues and joining those who have referred to conspiracy “nuts”, “envirowhacks” (with reference to the controversy over smart meters) and “black english/ebonics”. These sorts of critiques are the opposite of free speech. They are pleas to control and censor KPFA’s content. If we are going to restrict from the airwaves discussion of the 9-11 attack that has manipulated the country into two disastrous invasions and looted the treasury, corporate assaults on our health and privacy from unregulated utility mega-corporations and the unfiltered voices of the African-Americans who have been failed by our educational and economic system, then what else are we going to censor? Gate-keeping language is not innocuous. It is disturbing and has nothing to do with free speech. Couching the language as a criticism of management does not change what it means or the chilling effect it has. If this is, as Mr. Gans suggests, “an ongoing battle for the soul of KPFA”, then this is how the sides stack up.

This is some truly vile and distorted shit here, laced with Rosenberg’s trademark condescension. She is referring to statements I made in a fund-raising edition of Dead to the World on Wednesday, August 3. In the course of an improvised fund-raising pitch, I criticized the interim general manager of KPFA, Andrew Philips, for planning a day of 9/11 conspiracy programming for broadcast on 9/11/11, suggesting that the air time would be better spent on programming about jobs or corporate personhood. (A transcript of my on-air remarks is posted here, along with an email from the interim program director taking me to task for what I said.)

Censorship my ass.

Note that the words Rosenberg placed in quotes above were NEVER uttered by me, not on the air at that time and not at any other time. (I have used the word “nuts,” of course, but not in the context implied here.) After putting words in my mouth, she goes on a campaign of guilt by association, attempting to align me with people I don’t know and implying political and cultural attitudes to which I do not subscribe.

My contempt for this individual is a matter of public record, I’m sorry to say. I have tried, with mixed success, to restrain myself from participating in the bitter war of words (and lawsuits, etc) among the factions at KPFA, but I feel compelled to defend myself against this disgusting screed.

Yes, I know, we all love KPFA and we all want to save it, each on our own terms, and why should you care?

I don’t know how to answer that, except to say I have been producing programs on KPFA for 25 years (the “34” noted by Rosenberg above is, I assume, an attempt to be cute and glib and dismissive) and I have worked hard to produce a successful fund-raising marathon every winter for 20 or so years. My commitment to KPFA and to the music I present led me to become involved in station politics, a decision I do not yet regret, but I’ve witnessed a lot of pretty unpleasant behavior.

If you trust me and you wish to support my position and/or faction and/or program, please reread that earlier post and decide for yourself if Tracy Rosenberg’s account of what I said on the air August 3 has any merit. If you agree with me that it is a vicious distortion, if not a pack of outright lies – and if you are a member of KPFA – please visit and read up on the issues, and then sign the petition to recall Tracy Rosenberg from the KPFA board, and thereby from the Pacifica board. If you are not a member of KPFA yet, you can visit and make a contribution of $25 or more, and then you’ll be eligible to participate in the recall.

This is important. Please help us. I really don’t want to have to serve a second term on the KPFA Local Station Board, but if we can’t get this shit cleaned up by 2013 I may have to run again. I’d rather be playing music, on stage and on the radio.

One last thing: Please SUPPORT KPFA, listener-sponsored radio. It matters.


8 Responses to “Character assassination”

  1. Bob Baldock says:

    David, your response is clarity and constraint admirably mingled. It speaks for
    the very best of KPFA. Thank you.

  2. Margy Wilkinson says:

    Thanks David. Your response reminds us of just why we need to save KFPA. I wondered about 34 years — you started when you were 12? Again thanks.

  3. suzi goldmacher says:

    Thanks for your response to Tracy’s lies and distortions. Working on the LSB with her is truly difficult and I find must restrain myself at every meeting. SAVE KPFA!

  4. Kate Gowen says:

    I know very well from personal experience Ms. Rosenberg’s penchant for condescension, hectoring, burying her opponent of the moment in spurious ‘facts’, and for sheer ego-driven mendacity. As do many others, no doubt. I hope what you’ve written here will propel the recall campaign over the top.

  5. Ernest N. St. Cyr says:


    Your commitment, sincerity and dedication to KPFA and all it stands for in the arena of real, non-corporate, equal-access, non-profit radio is beyond reproach and anyone who even attempts to assassinate your character reveals more about themselves than they will ever understand. A lesser man might just walk away with a hearty ‘ef it’…. you are not a lesser man.

  6. […] by the Pacifica National Board to unseat two duly-elected SaveKPFA representatives, and launched vicious and misleading attacks on KPFA programmer David Gans for criticizing Pacifica’s hand-picked management. But […]

  7. Tracy Rosenberg says:

    Hi David,

    How’s it going? Sorry about the 34 years. Your former colleague Amelia Gonzalez-Garcia referred to your time at KPFA as 28 years back in 2005, when the program council was evaluating Dead to the World. I guess she had it wrong. Apologies.

    Otherwise, I understand you are keeping your distance from your Save KPFA colleagues with the “conspiracy nuts”, envirowhacks and ebonics language. I’m glad. I guess “endorse” doesn’t really mean endorse anymore in the old-fashioned sense of the word.

    But, in addition to my general dislike of the gatekeeping instinct, as of course KPFA should be talking about the incident that launched two imperial invasions, cost thousands of Afghan, Iraqi and American lives, impoverished the treasury and launched the most profound attack on civil liberties Americans have seen in many years, there is something pretty self-defeating in ranting about an upcoming fund drive special a day before it airs. Were you trying to convince people not to listen and donate? Why? What’s the point?

    That’s not saving or supporting much of anything. It’s indulging yourself and at a minimum it was badly timed, disrespectful and non-constructive.

    I also stand by the point that it was the language of censorship i.e. “this is relevant and important” and “that is unacceptable” – which is the sort of constraint on ideas that KPFA was founded to turn over on its head. If we can’t question the narratives of our government that don’t make a heck a lot of sense, then we aren’t doing the job we’re supposed to be doing.

    The comments were at best, regrettable.



  8. Dusty says:

    Hey Tracy, Your attitude comes across as the typical (and worst) of Northern California, smug. condescending, vile, and by all appearances *evil*. Your statement above is a quasi-attempt at reconciliation, yet you ask “if we can’t question the narratives..” bit. I wonder as an outsider in Tennessee why you want to ask the questions, yet fight a good man like David for doing the same…

    Please insert response..

Leave a Reply