Apr 20 1999

CounterSpin Broadcast Halted In-Progress by Pacifica Station WPFW

On April 20th, CounterSpin, the national radio show produced by the media watch group FAIR, was taken off the air while in-progress by WPFW, the Washington, D.C.-based Pacifica affiliate.

The show included a segment on media coverage of the use of depleted uranium weapons by NATO forces in the Balkans, followed by an interview with Larry Bensky, a broadcaster recently fired by Pacifica.

WPFW aired the depleted uranium segment in its entirety, pulling CounterSpin off the air in the middle of the Bensky interview. Listeners heard an Emergency Broadcasting System announcement, followed by music, which ran for the duration of the half-hour (11-11:30am) CounterSpin slot.

The suppression of the Bensky interview on WPFW comes on the heels of Los Angeles Pacifica affiliate KPFK‘s suppression of the entire CounterSpin broadcast on April 16th. (See FAIR’s April 19th release,”FAIR’s Radio Program Pulled From Pacifica‘s KPFK,” attached below.)

Neither station has returned repeated calls by FAIR/CounterSpin asking for an explanation of their actions.


News Release

April 19, 1999

FAIR’s Radio Program Pulled From Pacifica‘s KPFK

Show Featured Interview With Fired Pacifica Broadcaster Larry Bensky

CounterSpin, the nationally syndicated radio show produced by the media watch group FAIR, was pulled from its scheduled 3:00 pm airing on Friday,April 16th by station KPFK, the Los Angeles-based Pacifica networkaffiliate. Phone calls by CounterSpin to KPFK management to determine why KPFK did not air the show were not returned.

FAIR believes the show was suppressed because it featured an interview with the recently fired Pacifica network host Larry Bensky. Bensky, one of the Pacifica network’s most recognizable voices, was fired on April 9 following the airing of his network show, Sunday Salon, which featured a segment discussing the dismissal of Nicole Sawaya, a popular station manager at KPFA, the Pacifica affiliate in Berkeley, California.

CounterSpin invited Bensky to discuss his firing, the Sawaya dismissal, and overlying issues of Pacifica accountability. The Sawaya and Bensky dismissals have stirred public concern, resulting in an April 15 demonstration at KPFA which reportedly drew between 700 and 1,000 protestors.

A Pacifica representative was invited to appear on a future show to present the network’s point of view. Pacifica declined the invitation.

“As a show concerned with censorship, CounterSpin relies on theatmosphere of openness and critical thinking provided by non-commercial radio,” says CounterSpin producer and host Janine Jackson. “It would be a distressing commentary on the state of free speech at the Pacifica network if CounterSpin was pulled from their airwaves for doing just the kind of work we’ve always done, raising just the kinds of questions we regularly raise about media.”