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Police arrest Andrea Buffa of Media Alliance
KTVU video: Arrests at KPFA

KPFA protesters, angry over staff firings, arrested after blocking entrance to radio station

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    DropCapERKELEY -- At least 14 people were arrested Monday after demonstrating in support of a second radio show host fired for criticizing the management of the Pacifica network on the air.

     KTVU video: Arrests at KPFA
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    Longtime staff at the iconoclastic radio station say Pacifica's board wants to give the "voice of the voiceless" a more mainstream image so that it can attract corporate donations.

    "This is a 50-year-old institution that was started by conscientious objectors," said Mike Alcalay, a former staffer. "And it has slowly
    "This is a 50-year-old institution that was started by conscientious objectors.... It has finally come to the point where it no longer represents the mission."
    Former KLPFA staffer Mike Alcalay
    over the last two decades ... been depoliticized. It has finally come to the point where it no longer represents the mission."

    The station's managers, including Pacifica Executive Director Lynne Chadwick, have said that it is simply inappropriate for staffers to use the airwaves to criticize their bosses.

    Chadwick called police to the scene Monday after the demonstrators blocked the door to her office. She declined several requests for an interview.

    Pickets, protests continue
    About a dozen protesters stood in front of the station, which was strewn with signs and banners demanding the reinstatement of the fired staffers. "Free KPFA, don't sell it," read one sign.

    Demonstrators cheered and waved as motorists driving by honked their horns in support. Alcalay, who had spent the night rolled up in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk, said the protest, which began Sunday, would continue until next week.

    Fired for on-air criticism
    Robbie Osman, a 22-year volunteer at the station who has hosted the folk music show "Across the Great Divide," was fired Friday after he criticized management's decision on March 31 not to renew the contract of station manager Nicole Sawaya.

    Talk show host Larry Bensky also was fired April 4 after he too criticized Sawaya's ouster on the air.

    Dead air
    No replacement could be found for Osman's show, so silence greeted KPFA's listeners from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday as hundreds demonstrated outside the station.

    "I am at peace with what I did," Osman said Sunday. "There comes a moment in your life that if you act with courage and with faith you seize the day."

    KPFA is run by a nonprofit foundation that owns KPFA and four other stations in Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Washington, D.C.

    Source: KTVU/Fox2 and Associated Press

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