Pacifica Washington DC station, brought to you by Philip Morris...

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Mar 17 16:39:57 MST 2001

WPFW, brought to you by Philip Morris? By David Koen

"WPFW is not supported by major corporations."

The Pacifica Foundation's station in Washington, D.C., WPFW-FM, often runs
this self-promotional plug on the air. The truth seems suspiciously
different. Toward the end of a program on the black press narrated by NAACP
Chair Julian Bond and broadcast on WPFW on March 15, 2001 at about 11:30
a.m., it was announced that the show was supported by Philip Morris, the
cigarette corporation.

WPFW received no direct support from Philip Morris for the plug aired on
WPFW, asserted WPFW station manager Lou Hankins in a telephone interview
about an hour after the spot for Philip Morris ran. The advertisement was
part of the show's tape, he said. The show apparently was not produced by
WPFW. Although Hankins denied that Philip Morris was directly supporting
WPFW, the fair inference is that WPFW and, by extension, Pacifica has
received at least indirect support from Philip Morris, through a subsidy by
Philip Morris of a show that WPFW aired. In any event, Philip Morris
benefited from being able to advertise on WPFW. The question remains
whether WPFW in fact has received direct financial support from a major
corporation. The evidence suggests it has.

During its November 2000 fundraising drive, the station sent out a curious
notice to those giving pledges. The notice listed dozens of companies
offering to match pledges to WPFW by listeners employed by these companies,
among them Philip Morris, Chevron, Exxon, Georgia- Pacific, and Pfizer.
"Ask your company's Human Resources Department for a matching gift form and
return it to WPFW," the notice reads. "We appreciate your extra effort in
matching your donation!" When I attempted to ask Hankins about the notice,
a woman who did not identify herself asked me which organization I was
with. Although I had previously stated during the interview that I was an
independent journalist, I repeated that I was an independent journalist.
The woman said, "And you still are." I was then disconnected.

Louis Proyect
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