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What the *%&@ Is Going on at KPFA?

Pacifica Removes Morning Show, Fires Hosts

Talking about KPFA is a little like asking someone, “So, what’s up in the Balkans and why are these people fighting?”—Conn Hallinan

KPFA in Berkeley provides KFCF 88.1 FM in Fresno with most of its content, making it what many in the progressive community say is an oasis in an island of commercial and corporate media. There is a concern that the infighting taking place at KPFA will destroy the station and leave KFCF struggling for its own survival.

What if you turned on your radio to listen to your favorite show only to discover that the hosts had been fired and the show cancelled? That’s what happened to KPFA and KFCF listeners last month when KPFA’s parent, the Pacifica Foundation, cancelled the “Morning Show.”

Not only has the show been removed from the air for the moment, but co-hosts Aimee Allison and Brian Edwards-Tiekert were also summarily dismissed. They must have done something pretty bad to deserve such treatment, right? Wrong. Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt, who instigated the firings, told me it has nothing to do with job performance or with any other behaviors on their part—it is simply a cost-cutting move.

The move has proved to be highly controversial, not only in KPFA’s listening area but here in central California as well. People want to know what happened to their favorite show. The “Morning Show,” carried here locally on KFCF, was KPFA’s most popular locally produced program. The show has been broadcast during morning drive time, 7 a.m.–9 a.m., for more than 30 years. In fact, Edwards-Tiekert says he believes that this is the first time in KPFA’s 61-year history that there has not been a locally produced show on the air during morning drive time.

How deep is the financial hole?

The cancellation and firings raise all sorts of perplexing questions. Let’s start with the financial issues. There seems to be general agreement that KPFA and Pacifica are in serious financial trouble, but that is where the consensus ends. It turns out that it is not easy to find out how deep a hole KPFA and Pacifica are in.

In public statements defending the firings, Englehardt said that KPFA lost a million dollars last year and was on track to lose another half million dollars this year. The union, Local 9415 of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), complains that there is no easy way for the public to check Englehardt’s figures for accuracy. Despite a long-term commitment and frequent promises to post its financial statements on the Pacifica Web site, as of mid-November Engelhardt had not been able to make that happen. She apologized on air for that failing but said that she had been dealing with other, more pressing issues.

Having access to the numbers is no small matter, as estimates of the deficit vary wildly. The union tried submitting an alternative budget that would save the station $250,000 without making staff cuts. Pacifica rejected the proposal; the CWA says Pacifica never gave it serious consideration and has filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

Anthony Fest, weekend news anchor for KPFA, makes the financial case for the cuts this way. “Reducing the payroll is a necessary move. In the last two years, KPFA spent much more than it took in. Now the station’s savings are gone, so there’s no alternative but to balance the budget.”

Why pick the “Morning Show”?

Assuming for the moment that big cuts were necessary, the next question that arises is why cut that particular show and why lay off those particular staff people? Here is where things get rather confusing.

Bonnie Simmons at a picket in support of KPFA’s workers on November 4.

The “Morning Show” is a huge money maker for the station. It brings in more money during pledge drives than any other locally produced show, accounting for nearly 25% of the funds raised. No one is disputing this. The obvious question then is, why cancel your most profitable show during hard economic times?

In a way, the “Morning Show” helps subsidize some of the shows that lose money. Some shows, such as “Hard Knock Radio,” which targets youth, is highly unlikely to ever be self-supporting. No one is suggesting that “Hard Knock Radio” be cut; it is a valuable show that serves an underserved audience. However, to keep airing shows that can’t pay their own way there have to be other shows that generate a surplus; the “Morning Show” was a prime example of that. To the critics of the cuts, something about all of this seems terribly backward.

Engelhardt has defended her decision in radio interviews—on KQED in San Francisco, KPFK in Los Angeles and on KPFA itself. She says that the morning drive time is the most profitable fund-raising time for any listener-supported radio station, and she expects that pattern to continue into the future when a new show comes on line.

The second part of that assertion—that a replacement show could bring in money just as well as the “Morning Show” has done—is vehemently disputed by others. Bonnie Simmons, a volunteer programmer and host of a Thursday night music show, told me that expecting a replacement show to bring in comparable amounts of money to what the old hosts were raising “contradicts everything I know from my 40 years in radio.” She elaborated by saying, “You can’t expect a replacement show to immediately command the fund-raising dollars that a show which has been on air for a long time does.”

Conflicting accounts of why the “Morning Show” was targeted

One explanation for why the “Morning Show” was selected for elimination has to do with the staff people involved. Engelhardt told me the show was cut because its co-hosts, Edwards-Tiekert and Allison, have the lowest seniority of any hosts on KPFA, and she was just going by seniority. That statement is in dispute. Edwards-Tiekert told me that he has seniority over at least four other staff not let go.

Engelhardt responds to that charge by saying that seniority only applies within designated job categories and that the hosts being fired cannot do the jobs of producers or news people. Edwards-Tiekert responded by pointing out that he is an experienced producer, has produced shows for KPFA and for Pacifica national broadcasts, and has even trained people to be producers. Furthermore, he has also worked in the news department. Options for Edwards-Tiekert to move into any of those other positions were not explored with him before he received his layoff notice.

There are more issues. Engelhardt, who is not part of the station, has frozen out local KPFA managers from crucial decision making. She decided on the layoffs on her own, without even informing KPFA’s interim general manager or assistant general manager.

These moves have alienated a lot of the station’s staff, both paid and unpaid. There is criticism of Engelhardt for taking out the entire staff of a single show rather than spreading the cuts around among several shows. Philip Maldari, current host of the “Sunday Show” was host of the “Morning Show” for 23 years. He is also a union steward. He says it was Engelhardt who decided to take out the people of the “Morning Show,” which he calls a mistake because “you shouldn’t decimate one program.”

The whole situation is rather baffling to outside observers. For example, the cuts came right on the eve of a two-day fund drive for the station; the fund drive had to be postponed because of the controversy. How does this help the station’s finances? Go figure.

Could KPFA go all volunteer?

Neither the budgetary nor the seniority arguments seem adequate to explain what is happening. There appears to be something else going on behind the scenes—namely people’s concerns about whether the station is moving in a good direction or a bad direction. As I spoke with a number of the people involved, I noticed that a common theme began to emerge. It has to do with the role of paid staff and of unpaid staff. There is a serious difference of opinion over whether to move the station in the direction of having fewer paid staff, replacing them with volunteers. Opponents of moving in that direction fear a loss of professionalism.

For the most part, this debate is not confronted head on; instead, people dance around the subject a bit. For example, no one on the side that supports the staff cuts will come right out and say that they think the station should go all volunteer. In fact, when asked that question directly, they all say that having a paid staff is essential. The disagreement is over how many paid staff there should be. They say that the station is undervaluing its unpaid staff, not fully appreciating what volunteers can do and not creating enough opportunities for them to take on new roles at the station. In a roundabout way, they are saying that unpaid staff might be able to take over some of the duties of paid staff, enabling the station to lay off paid staff and cut costs. In other words, fire some paid people and take up the slack by putting more volunteers to work.

A strong supporter of the cuts is Tracy Rosenberg. She is a member of both the station board and the Pacifica board; in the past, she has held both a paid position and volunteer positions with the station. She argues that cutting paid staff is a necessity in these hard times. However, she also says that KPFA could not function as an all-volunteer operation. She pointed out to me that even after the voluntary and involuntary layoffs that have happened so far, the station still has more than 30 paid staff.

The case for placing the emphasis on professional staff

On the other side, those who object to removing the “Morning Show” and firing its hosts do not speak of covering all jobs with paid staff. They speak highly of the contributions that unpaid staff make to the station. They are not against volunteers. However, they believe that most of the jobs done by paid staff require huge investments of time, far more than could be expected of volunteers. Furthermore, the crucial positions held by paid staff require a mix of skills that only professionals are likely to have.

I was able to speak at length with Conn Hallinan, one of the critics of the cuts. Hallinan is himself a professional journalist who formerly ran the journalism program at UC Santa Cruz. Currently, he is a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus and is a member (and former chair) of the KPFA station board. He knows first-hand what is required to produce good journalism.

Hallinan says the station needs to learn how to make good use of both paid and unpaid staff—what he calls being able to walk and chew bubblegum. For him, professionalism is key. He says KPFA needs to put out high-quality programming that can compete with other professional media. It requires a big time commitment to put together a quality program like the “Morning Show” day in and day out. He says he supports community programming as well, but “for the morning and evening news shows you need people who have been well trained.”

Hallinan and other opponents of the cuts seem to be saying that reducing professional staff endangers KPFA by crippling its ability to produce high-quality professional journalism. They see that trend as something that must be reversed at all costs.

Is this the beginning of a downward spiral?

Certain things are clear. The controversy is going to hurt the station financially, at least in the short run. Planned on-air fund-raising has been postponed. When the fired “Morning Show” hosts are eventually replaced with other hosts, lingering resentment among fans of Edwards-Tiekert and Allison might hamper fund-raising during morning drive time—the most important period. If station revenues take a plunge, it likely will be used as an argument for cutting even more of the paid staff, which could lead to a vicious downward spiral.

Larry Bensky, former national affairs correspondent for Pacifica, came out of retirement to share his thoughts on the situation. On a KQED radio show with Engelhardt, Bensky summed it up this way: “You take away the program that raises the most money, that has the best fundamental journalistic approach to what’s needed…a potential audience expander, and you lay off the people and you decimate it. That seems to me a very short-sighted and a very foolish thing to do.”

Or, as David Gans, a volunteer programmer put it to me, “It is suicidal to take a show like the ‘Morning Show’ off the air with nothing to replace it.”

Implications for Fresno

Those of us here in the Valley watching all of this from afar feel a bit helpless. It is hard for us to influence what goes on in Berkeley. Our own community radio station, KFCF, is somewhat at risk. The general manager of KFCF, Rych Withers, says that more than 90% of KFCF’s revenues come from the on-air fund-raising done by KPFA, and 20%–25% of that is raised during morning drive time. If those revenues fall precipitously in Berkeley, the fallout for our local station could be huge. Withers estimates the problems in Berkeley might cause a drop in revenue of around $17,000 for KFCF just in November and December—an amount equaling about 10% of the station’s annual budget. Withers said some subscribers are asking him how to donate directly to the station without the funds passing through Berkeley. He is working on setting up a procedure to facilitate that.

Meanwhile, “Morning Show” fans in the Fresno area are out of luck. Right now, the time slot is being filled by two programs from KPFK in Los Angeles—over the objections of the hosts of those shows, by the way. Engelhardt says this is only a temporary situation until something like the “Morning Show” can be restored to the air. In the meantime, the listenership at that hour is probably dwindling. It is hard to see how all of this will not do some permanent damage to both stations.

Unfortunately, as Hallinan said to me, all of this is happening as a result of “a war that doesn’t need to be a war.” Once again, we see the left shooting itself in the foot.

For updates about the situation, go to kpfaworker.org to see the union’s side of the story and to pacifica.org to see management’s side of the story (although the Pacifica site is rather slow with the updates).

 

19 comments to What the *%&@ Is Going on at KPFA?

  • lily

    Fresno listeners can also keep up with what’s happening by going to SaveKPFA.org and signing up for the action alerts mailing list (top right of page). That list includes important news bulletins about once a week.

    Currently posted at SaveKPFA.org is a letter from over a dozen bay area elected officials expressing “deep concern” over the situation at KPFA. I hope some Fresno officials join them.

    You’ll also find a new pledge fund you can contribute to in order to restore the Morning Show and preserve other locally-controlled programming.

  • Gerry

    Lily, thanks for the post.

    Yes, the SaveKPFA.org site is quite useful. I only found out about it after our article had gone to press. I recommend that people go to SaveKPFA.org and check it out.

    Gerry

  • Mary Morton

    Good job covering the issues as we know them to be. But, isn’t the main issue whether the folks at Pacifica are really left-wingers shooting themselves in the feet ? I would hazard a guess that they are truly not of the progressive left, especially not in blue, blue Calfornia. I think the other issue which must be resolved before disenfranchised listeners come back to KPFA is to be assured that “our” station will have the autonomy it rightly deserves to lead the way for truly progressive thought. That will require some radical reorging and possibly shedding Pacifica if they refuse to cooperate in a decent and respectful way. I just don’t hold out much hope for that ever happening, so why aren’t we finding a way to fund KPFA without the “help” of Pacifica yet ? This story will continue to repeat itself down through the ages unless serious action is taken. What’s the quote about repeating errors without ever exploring other actions is equivalent to insanity ?

  • The SaveKPFA.org site is only useful for seeing one side’s perspective on the situation, that of the clique of insiders that drove the station into the ground by hiring more paid staff than the station could afford, then refusing to reduce costs for several years when directed to do so by the Pacifica National Board.

    The website http://www.supportkpfa.org gives a different perspective.

  • Dissident KPFAworker

    This article is a bit misleading, unless the writer has been misled by the narrow choice of sources. For example, it failed to identify Anthony Fest as the current KPFA LSB Board Chair, or go into depth with alternate sources.

    The so-called ‘kpfaworker’ website does not represent the views of all workers, paid or unpaid.
    At the same time certain paid workers have been pressured by the union’s hardline to not feel free to speak out. Something has to be said about this.

    For example, the CWA passed Resolution forbidding any paid worker to take a seat on the Morning Show.
    But then someone gets to complain that the KPFA Morning Show hasn’t come back?

    Obviously he version that ‘SaveKPFA’ and ‘kpfaworker’ websites is not the reality, but for public consumption. Someone wants it both ways. A complete insult to Listeners who want to be informed.

    Listeners may also want to know why a union so concerned about following the contract, would allow union worker Nora Barrows Friedman [Flashpoints], despite having much more seniority, was sacrificed in a previous round of cuts under the previous management, with nary a word from CWA?

    And when the contract is finally followed as per Seniority, suddenly it is ‘political’.
    Again, both ways.

    Don’t buy this wholesale, people. Surely listeners of KPFA and KFCF are more media-savvy than to accept only one side of the story.

    Credit to former KPFA Treasurer Brian Edwards Tiekert who actually had it right 2 years ago, about the need for cuts, and accurately predicted a backlash. Unfortunately as a KPFA LSB Board member he allowed the hemorrhaging to continue anyway, and on the watch that your esteemed guest Mr.Hallinan served as chair. Now Brian’s own have come back to haunt him. see the partial transcript in the article titled “What’s Happening At KPFA”: http://www.supportkpfa.org

    Also a graphic representation of what the Annual Audits look like can be seen here: http://www.bit.ly/ijEG91

    No one is out to get Brian, he is eligible to be rehired if KPFA’s financial picture improves. However, if he chooses to sue Pacifica, will only further set back KPFA and the Pacifica Foundation, towards bankruptcy; and with it, any chances that he and our fellow workers can work at the station again anytime soon.

    But it is not necessarily the end. Stay tuned to http://www.SupportKPFA.org

  • fsrosa@earthlink.net

    It’s good to hear what is going on in Fresno and how linked KPFK is to KPFA. I did not know most of the details in your article. I appreciate this post.

  • I appreciate your articles attempt to be balanced since so much I have been hearing from the SAVE KPFA side has been so one sided and seems to escalate the problems and seems unwillingly to try and mediate a solution with Pacifica . From what I understand Arlene only took these drastic steps after the KPFA management failed to make the necessary cuts for 3 years and finally Pacifica had to pay KPFA’s payroll. Instead KPFA management suggested that Hardkock Radio and Flashpoints be cut despite their higher seniority of their hosts and despite that Hard Knock is one of the few shows geared to youth of color and Flashpoins brings in significant money. So the choices by KPFA management need to be addressed. In terms of Brian being laid off I heard Arlene explain that she did’t lay off the less senior Mitch Jesserich because she balanced Mitch Jesserich’s Washington skills with Brian’s and felt Mitch had a unique set of skill to cover Washington that Brian didn’t. Maybe that is not true but that is a legitimate concern. I also suggest people look at other websites as well for information and not just one side. look at suuportkpfa.org and there are articles there that explain the financial situation in greater detail and elsewhere. And on indybay there is a good post about Who is Brian Edward Tiekert (who is leading the charge against Pacifica) and whether he has been truthful in the past about his motives. Cause while he is charging Pacifica with being a financial drain on KPFA he is suing Pacifica and seeking financial compensation not just injunctive relief over the last LSB election. so not sure how that is suppose to help the finances of KPFA or Pacifica.

  • V K

    I for one am very pleased to see this show off the air. The bias of the hosts was more evident with every show that I listened to. I have been listening to KPFA, shows like Guns N Butter, Democracy Now, and many others keep me glued to the radio most of the day and into the night with the music that is available. I love KPFA. However, this morning show I have found to impose very slanted views and after reading about some of the politics going on at the station, well as some recorded meetings that Tiekert called for layoffs (of others)… If you people want to do something productive, why not shine the light on what is going on in terms of our government trying to further strip freedoms from us.. this morning show issue is a waste of time… very poor programing and even worse content.

    some informative reading here: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/11/09/18663753.php

    Yea, this group seems more like it is interested in spreading some alternate agenda rather than free speech… I am happy to not have to see them gone and have some decent programing to listen to…

  • V K

    Happy to see them gone and NOT have to listen to it anymore that is…

  • Wendy Schroell

    A really unfortunate comment:

    >Hallinan says the station needs to learn how to make good use of both paid >and unpaid staff—what he calls being able to walk and chew bubblegum.

    KPFA already makes good use of both paid and unpaid staff. Isn’t he someone who should know that?

    Having been intimately involved with Pacifica over the last ten years, all of this breaks my heart. I live in Houston now, but my first love was KPFA. I know the issues with all five Pacifica station, so these articles are especially upsetting. People need to get a grip – if even KPFA can’t keep up with it’s own expenses, there is a huge problem. They will be able to, but they have to cut some stuff. How to do that is the issue – how could they not go by the union contract?

    These biased articles are extremely damaging to KPFA, to KFCF, and to Pacifica. Any cuts are unfortunate and horrible, but to not do them threatens the organizations themselves. Losing ANY Pacifica station or the treasure that is the Pacifica Radio Archive is not an option. Get it, if stations can’t pay their bills we lose the Archive too. I’m sure KFCF could survive, but it would be very different.

    Wendy Schroell
    Pacifica National Board 2004, 2005, 2007-2009

  • Mark Hernandez

    As former Station Representative from KFCF as well as having been elected to the KPFA LSB in my own right, let me prsent a realistic perspective.

    Two years ago, Brian Edwards-Tiekert presented the issue of the KPFA budget being unsustainable at then-present levels. However, Grace Aaron, then Pacifica chair and acting Executive Director, ordered that no layoffs occur. What layoffs happened were because money simply ran out.

    Why did the money run out? It ran out because Pacifica, as parent corporation, dipped into the KPFA bank accounts and took money to pay corporate bills. Because KPFA is the most effective fundraiser of the Pacifica Network, it was apparently felt that it could earn the money back.

    Then the economy tanked.

    Even now, the alleged financial shortage is because Pacifica is still demending access to KPFA’s resources without having returned, by cash or credit, the funds that it took.

    Additionally, a rather large bequest was made to KPFA and Pacifica to the order of around $1million, split between the two. The only restriction was the money was to be used to develop interest which would then be used to pay for news.

    This is the “lost check” story. KPFA was directed by the former CFO to hold on to their check; Pacifica spent their half like a drunken sailor at port. When the attorney for the estate checked on compliance, Pacifica had to pay their half back…so the money for KPFA was taken to do so, and the the same amount deducted from the KPFA accounts to build the other half back up.

    So instead of getting what I understand to be a $500,000 trust account for paying news, KPFA got ripped off for $1million…plus the interest such an account should have been generating this time.

    Meanwhile, Pacifica demands immediate payment up front on all this, while refusing to pay back one cent to KPFA’s budget.

    In short, the whole of the financial problem stems from Pacifica…and KPFA is being made the scapegoat.

    My allegiance is to KFCF; it is my duty as a member of the FFCF Board of Directors to be aware of and know what is going to affect our association with KPFA. That includes sifting through the stories and rumors, and comparing them to the facts at hand.

    The Pacifica faction behind all of this just got voted out of power, and in departure, began these pogroms to destroy KPFA as we know it. Today, the new KPFA Local Station Board is seated, and will attempt to reverse some of this; in January, the new Pacifica National Board will be seated and reverse the remainder if possible.

    The new majority LSB web site can be found at http://www.savekpfa.org.

    The majority of KPFA staff are represented at
    http://www.kpfaworker.org.

    The failed group has made every possible effort to obscure this by purchasing dozens of similar names in hopes to confuse the public.

    Likewise, the same group is pouring all sorts on information to IndyBay but, to paraphrase Daniel Moynihan, “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

  • I want to thank Gerry Bill for an informative, useful and largely accurate article and Mike Rhodes for publishing it. Far from being biased, Gerry has pulled together many disparate voices to try to explain a very complicated issue and I think this is the best I’ve seen from the many stories in circulation.

    And yes, it is more complicated than simply a budgetary crisis. I served on the KPFA local station board for three years, from 2003-06, and it was one of the worst organizational experiences of my life, owing completely to the constant infighting and attempts to undermine those who do the yeomans work of KPFA. What I’m seeing now is very much rooted in that ongoing internecine warfare.

    I know of no one, regardless of faction, who disagrees that KPFA’s finances are in dire straits. They are. The elimination of two hosts and their salaries will not reverse that trend. But kneecapping the show that brings in the most income of any locally produced program, canceling fund drives and retaining corporate union-busting law firms can only make a dire situation worse.

    As it affects KFCF, I asked Arlene if she has, or intended to, seek input from KFCF management to mitigate the damage these actions could inflict on Fresno’s associate station, and got no answer. I have spoken to Rych Withers, KFCF’s GM and Executive Director, and he confirmed that she has not called to discuss the issue. The Morning Show brings, or should I say brought, in a full quarter of KFCF’s budget, and the percentage was rising since Brian and Aimee became its hosts. I don’t believe that KPFA can just plop any old host into the time slot and expect the same enthusiastic response from listeners. Radio doesn’t work that way.

    Since no remaining staff has yet replaced Brian and Amy — and the newly announced schedule changes in the morning imply that no Morning Show host replacements are forthcoming — I can only assume that no one is interested in scabbing. And since the layoffs are the subject of a NLRB complaint, I would consider any replacement hosts to be scabs. But recalling my past experience on the LSB and knowing the players involved, I don’t think the disappearance of the Morning Show is simply a case of no one wanting to scab. The new programming changes fit in with a longstanding agenda of some on the LSB and their supports to eliminate the show altogether, air Democracy Now at 7 and 9, and kneecap the news department and segment producers including labor journalist David Bacon.

    If I’m right that this is in part a fulfillment of an agenda, using the economic crisis as justification, the next to get the hatchet will be the Evening News. In fact, Ms. Rosenberg — who seems to have Ms. Englehart’s ear — has perhaps inadvertently announced as much in multiple Internet postings. What this will mean for KFCF and its donors is a severe cut to our news stringers program, since the Evening News is the main conduit for the outstanding reportage of Mike Rhodes and Vic Bedoian, and for which KFCF listeners have donated some $10,000 to support.

    Pacifica, if it is truly interested in stopping the bleeding and working collaboratively with its stakeholders including listeners, donors and both paid and unpaid staff, needs to look in its own backyard for ways to do so. I know Wendy Schroell to be an upright, consciencious director and observer but, respectfully, I have to disagree that the income issue is a zero-sum game in which the only solution is firing the hardest working and highest producing members of KPFA’s paid staff.

    An allowance for National Office rent in the KPFA building that was paid for out of KPFA funds, as was long ago granted to KPFK for housing the Archives, would be a start. Reversing legal expenses booked to KPFA, rather than from Pacifica’s central services fees, would be another. Allowing KPFA to make its past due central services fees in installments rather than demanding it be paid in full, now, is another. (WBAI was allowed to slide for years.) Requiring other stations repay loans and other bailouts paid by KPFA in years past would be yet another — as KPFA quickly repaid a small loan in October. Why the different treatment? One can guess.

    And to correct a previous commenter, Brian Edwards-Tiekert has not asked for monetary compensation in his lawsuit against Pacifica. He was, however, granted a temporary restraining order this week that prevents the seating of a staff delegate to the board whose vote tally gave him the third seat only AFTER the ballots of four staff members were pulled and eliminated after the votes were counted, after the results were announced and with the full knowledge that eliminating those ballots would change the outcome. All Brian has asked for is that the original count, taken before the shenanigans, be certified. Pacifica must decide if it willing to pay its own court and attorneys fees to continue fighting for the right to arbitrarily disenfranchise voters while proclaiming itself to be a “champion” of media democracy.

    Sorry to be so long-winded. I put a lot of years into trying to support a vibrant, independent and peaceful Pacifica and it’s so very frustrating and painful to see it falling apart.

    For KFCF listeners, my recommendation is that you please continue to contribute to KFCF, more than ever, by making and paying your pledges directly to the station at its Fresno address: P.O. Box 4364, Fresno, CA 93744 or 1449 N. Wishon Ave, 93728 (the corner of Pine and Wishon in the Tower District).

  • lily

    “Dissident KPFAworker’s” post is filled with anti-union crap. If the contract had really been adhered to, why would the union have filed multiple grievances, an unfair labor practice charge, and have the support of several labor councils and other unions? Geez.

    And the situation with Nora Barrows-Friedman was *not* a layoff. Flashpoints staff hours were cut, just like *other departments* hours were cut (actually, most departments shared the cuts; not so with Flashpoints and you’d have to as Mr. Bernstein why that was). Nora couldn’t survive on the shorter hours, so she quit. Very sad for KPFA, but she wasn’t laid off and saying she was for political gain is manipulative.

    Read the letter from KPFA staff, published Feb 18, 2010. Sadly, some of these people have now taken voluntary layoff to allow their fellow workers to stay and will no longer be heard on KPFA:

    Dear members of the KPFA Local Station Board,

    We the undersigned union members at KPFA are writing to express our concern about the partisan public stand that some members of the board have been making about who should get laid off or cut at KPFA and who should not. It is not the role of board members to advocate for special treatment for particular staff members—including those staff members who are your friends or allies. You are undermining our union by doing so.

    Flashpoints is not the only program that has been cut as KPFA attempts to balance its budget. KPFA programs and staff have been cut across the board, with apparently more cuts to come, including:

    *The Morning Show, the most listened-to locally produced program on KPFA, which features hard hitting interviews and analysis
    *The News Department, which provides head lines throughout the morning and afternoon, as well as an hour-long state-wide newscast
    *Against the Grain, a program of radical ideas and action
    *Hard Knock Radio, a youth oriented program in drive time
    *Essential subscription and other union positions have also been cut

    As you know, the Pacifica National Board said the station must cut $300,000. We may not like it, but we are all sharing the pain together as we all work to stay true to the mission of Pacifica to produce cutting edge programming that opposes war and investigates the causes of conflict, whether economic, religious, national, or racial. Therefore, it is very upsetting to us as union members that some members of the KPFA board have circulated public statements that privileges one program that airs five hours a week above all others. In case you have been told that this program has been hit disproportionately hard, you should know that even after the cuts, no program has more paid staff per hour than Flashpoints.

    In hard times, we all have to stand together, rather than seek to save our skins at the expense of everyone else. That is the basis of worker solidarity and it’s a principle we strongly believe in. If you would like to do anything to help us as workers at the station, fundraising for the station—which is a central part of your duties as board members—would be a good start.

    Sincerely,

    Eric Klein, Flashpoints, Communications Workers of America, Local 9415
    Aileen Alfandary, News Co-Director, CWA 9415
    Esther Manilla, Morning Show, CWA 9415
    Kris Welch, Living Room, CWA 9415
    Philip Maldari, Sunday , CWA 9415
    Miguel Guerrero, Web Coordinator, CWA 9415
    CS Soong, Against the Grain, CWA 9415
    Bob Baldock, Public Events, CWA 9415
    Antonio Ortiz, Engineering, CWA 9415
    Mitch Jeserich, Letters to Washington, CWA 9415
    John Hamilton, Evening News, CWA 9415
    Lewis Sawyer, Reception, CWA 9415
    Sasha Lilley, Against the Grain, CWA 9415
    Max Pringle, News Reporter, CWA 9415
    Chris Stehlik, Database, CWA 9415
    Mark Mericle, News Co-Director, CWA 9415
    Eden Tosch, Subscriptions, CWA 9415
    Jan Etre, Crafts Fair, CWA 9415

  • mal burnstein

    Ask the sanctimonious “other side” (supportKPFA) why, if the Morning Show layoffs were really for reason of lack of funds, the hosts were forbidden from broadcasting until December 6 while they were still on salary? No, the layoffs did not follow the union contract; they were clearly punitive reprisals on staff who dared oppose the then majority (ICR) on the local board. The majority which was roundly repudiated in the last election.

    We need to raise funds to keep the stations on the air; but it is irresponsible to use this crises to even old political scores as the Pacifica ED is doing at the behest of some local board members. The fact is, the new minority so bitterly hates Brian Edwards-Tiekert, even though he is the most successful fundraiser the station has, that they were willing to risk destroying the station to punish him.

  • Mal, it should also be pointed out for Fresno readers that Brian Edwards-Tiekert has annually visited Fresno to conduct workshops for local activists to learn radio production and reporting for KFCF and for the Evening News stringer program. He’s also assisted other radio journalists such as those from “Making Contact” while in the Fresno area to report on water, enviro and labor stories. I’ve been honored to host him in my home on his visits here.

    One thing I learned during my time on the KPFA station board, and to some extent as a KFCF director, is the politics of resentment run deep and strong. The best and brightest (in Brian’s case, not mine!) are opposed the most by lesser talents.

    Again, folks, please continue to contribute to KFCF at the Fresno address. Good people are doing hard work for you.

    And please let Arlene Engelhart know that you support Brian, Aimee, the unpaid contributors like David Bacon, Jennifer Stone and the rest of the Morning Show staff, the Evening News and the KFCF stringers by emailing her at Arlene@pacifica.org. Despite her obvious mistakes, please be respectful. She’s getting her ears bent by, for lack of a better term, haters. There are other avenues, and she needs to know she’ll have support for taking them.

    Debbie Speer
    Former Director, Fresno Free College Foundation 2000-07
    Former KPFA Local Station Board representative 2003-06
    Founding member, Pacifica Affiliates Committee 2003-04

  • ClockWatcher

    The Fresno Free College Foundation and KFCF-FM have been partners with KPFA and Pacifica for over 35 years, each depending on the other for fundraising. Why would Pacifica cut nearly 25% of its fundraising capacity?

    The Board of Directors for KFCF want to know why:

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/12/04/18665668.php?show_comments=1#18665670

  • TalkingFish

    I’m not really sure where to put this where some of the parties involved would actually hear it. Even if they read this, it’s without question it would fall on deaf ears.

    I don’t give a damn about your internal politics. At this point, you’re all behaving like a bunch of jackasses. I don’t want to read your excuses. I don’t want hear your bickering. I want to hear the radio I like. I want to hear the radio I’ve paid for.

    You’re not delivering. You can’t work it out. So, not another penny from me.

    I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this. Whichever side you look at, one thing is clear, they have completely forgotten about the listeners. And whatever the outcome…most likely, the sale of KPFA and and the eventual break up of Pacifica Network…the listeners will lose.

    I really wish someone would listen. I really wish you’d get your heads out of your butts. Truly.

  • lily

    Hey talking fish,

    I can truly appreciate where you are coming from, but the people who have power in this situation — who have made the bad programming decisions — are the Pacifica national board and its executive director, Arlene Engelhardt.

    Your fellow listeners, in coalition with many paid and unpaid staff and conscientious board members, are organizing to save the radio station you so dearly love.

    Some folks, like you, feel they can no longer contribute – probably because it feels like the only leverage they have. Very understandable. But please put the blame where it belongs – at the top.

    To find out how you can help, visit SaveKPFA.org or KPFAworker.org.

    Thanks.

  • Spacey

    Love the comments. I agree that pacifica needs to be more forthcoming with disclosing their financial documents. I do think KPFA is being torn asunder by Pacifica, and other stations in the network (ahem KFCF).

    I would like to say that I think we all need to chip in and save KPFA no matter what. Even with all of the changes in KPFA throughout the years I think their programming has always been top notch. And akin to a terrific breath of fresh air compared to most of radio in this valley of ours. I would go as far to say that I think that KFCF would be next to nothing without the programming on KPFA.

    KFCF tries, really hard, but really, it needs to just step aside and let KPFA through, and devote all of its resources to maintaining the equipment to feed us KPFA, and the few KFCF shows that are specifically about local only issues.

    Give all extra money to KPFA and help them out right now, and never, Never, play a KFCF show over a KPFA show when it is pledging. I cannot say that loud enough. I hear it happen all to often when KPFA is pouring their heart out asking for pledges, and the KFCF show doesn’t ask for one penny. If KFCF does try to pledge, I feel that it is nowhere near as effective at it as KPFA.

    I believe that many, many entities, not just Pacifica, have been taking a little too much from KPFA. Yes, it is right that KPFA share their success to try to create other stations like it around the country, but KPFA can only do so much, if the morning show was cut, lets cut a few KFCF shows, share the burden, and back off a bit. KPFA was the first and they know what they are doing. Listen to the mothership.

    I really do not believe that the FFCF and KFCF could survive as a purely listener sponsored entity on its own. If KPFA goes down, so will KFCF. I think anyone is foolish to think otherwise, unless, in their heart, they have commercialization in mind.

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