Kitty Piper's Statement 

July 31, 1999 regarding the  

KPFA / Pacifica controversy:

Hi, I'm Kitty Piper. I have been a longtime supporter of Community Radio; I was a founder of Radio KZFR in Chico. I'm also veteran of the FSM, having worked at Central, sat on Ex-Com, and helped organize the strike. The same convictions that drew me to the Free Speech Movement drew me to Community Radio, and to this platform here today.

Thirty five years ago, a lot of us marched into Sproul Hall after Mario Savio's speech outlining the logic of a system that defined students as the products of the UC knowledge factory. We found it odious to be defined as raw materials and products of a process run by faceless bureaucrats who serve the power elite. Well, let me tell you, the factory is still in business. The University, like any educational institution, is a model of the society of which it's a part. But we are not products any more. According to the system, we no longer have even that dignity. We are audience, consumers, market share. That's the role we have come to play in the economy of this country, in politics, in our so-called culture. That, according to the logic of the system, is the significance of our lives.

Do I need to tell you that commercial media support the system? What airs is determined by what sells. Choice is defined by the offering of products; you and I are defined by what we consume. What shoes are you wearing? What food do you eat? What music do you listen to? ARE you the sum of your consumer choices? Isn't the influence of any group, in this system, defined as the power to buy products, to become a profitable target group for marketing strategies, whether in the sale of goods, services, candidates, or ideas?

But wait! There is this other spot in the dial. Not commercial radio. Not, excuse me, public radio, where whatever draws the most listeners gets on the air courtesy of underwriting by major corporations, but Community Radio. The process is different. What gets on the air is what the community wants. What local people volunteer for and support. What serves an unserved segment of the listening community. What fits the traditions of that station, its listeners and volunteers. This process defines us not as consumers, but as thinking breathing human beings. This process is not that of a corporation shaping its marketing and profit making strategy, but of a community engaged in its own realization and development. This process supports us in finding ways to be fully human, even in a society like ours. This matters, folks. We must defend it.

Thirty five years ago, what we rallied to defend was a bunch of card tables set up in Sproul Plaza to inform us about, recruit us for, and ask us to support different political organizations. A process, please note, entirely different than being registered for and enrolled in classes. Entirely different from being shaped into saleable product for corporate employers. A process precious because it defined us as fully human, whether or not we chose to participate. I would like to say that community radio is like that row of funky card tables. Yes, the space it occupies could be used for some purpose that might produce more profits. Yes, it looks ragged set against the ad agency splendors of the broadcasting bandwidth. Yes, it could have wider market appeal. But that's not the point. The point is, the existence of Community Radio is essential to the well-being of a far larger community than appears to use it or take an interest in it. Its existence, and the process by which is exists, is fundamental to the definition of society as an undertaking by and for human beings, rather than a system which produces and organizes consumers for the benefit of corporate bureaucracies. Folks, community radio is ours. It's part of what gives us human community. Let's keep this process going, wherever and however we can.

Kitty Piper




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