Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Photo by Kai Schreiber via Flickr Creative Commons

{Editor’s note: We received a lot of letters to the editor in response to the December story we ran about the conflict at KPFA and how it will affect KFCF 88.1 FM in Fresno. Below are some of those letters. You can read more at

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 California. 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 reorganizing 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, repeating errors without ever exploring other actions is equivalent to insanity?

Mary Morton

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 Web site www.supportkpfa.org gives a different perspective.


I appreciate your article’s 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 unwilling 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 “Hard Knock Radio” and “Flashpoints” be cut despite the higher seniority of their hosts and despite the fact that “Hard Knock” is one of the few shows geared to youth of color and “Flashpoints” 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 didn’t lay off the less senior Mitch Jesserich because she balanced Mitch’s Washington skills with Brian’s and felt Mitch had a unique set of skills 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 Web sites as well for information and not just one side. Look at supportkpfa.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 Brian Edwards-Tiekert (who is leading the charge against Pacifica) and whether he has been truthful in the past about his motives. ‘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 [Local Station Board] election. So I am not sure how that is supposed to help the finances of KPFA or Pacifica.

Suzanne Adler

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? Since I have been intimately involved with Pacifica over the last 10 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 stations, so these articles are especially upsetting. People need to get a grip—if even KPFA can’t keep up with its 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

As former station representative from KFCF as well as having been elected to the KPFA LSB in my own right, let me present 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 the 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 demanding 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 $1 million, split between the two. The only restriction was that the money was to be used to develop interest the 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 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 all 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 [Fresno Free College Foundation] 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 (LSB) 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 www.savekpfa.org.

The majority of KPFA staff is represented at www.kpfaworker.org.

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

Mark Hernandez

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 to 2006, 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 yeoman’s 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.

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).

Debbie Speer

(This letter was shortened to save space; you may read the entire letter at https://fresnoalliance.com/?p=2125.) I really wish someone would listen. I really wish you’d get your heads out of your butts. Truly.

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 to 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 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.

talking.fish@sogetthis.com 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.



  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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