United for Community Radio Platform—2015

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unnamedKPFA and Pacifica are irreplaceable, strategic and transformative resources for amplifying the voices of millions who are overlooked, marginalized or silenced by corporate media in the face of police militarization, racism; and housing, health, water, economic, educational, and environmental depredation.   We forge a vital radio station and network by balancing often difficult news reports with programming that heals and facilitates human connections.


1.  Join the global media revolution by:

  • Updating KPFA technology so that KPFA reporters can generate news headlines and stories that challenge corporate media’s dominant narratives on the worldwide web.
  • Providing free real-time video streaming of demonstrations, rallies and other news events.  Offering low-cost access to recorded videos of lectures and other cultural activities.

2.  Promote a morning mix of community-sourced, local, daily, prime-time programing– making news together. This includes addressing attacks on immigrants, violence directed at people of color and discrimination based on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability.

Courtesy Incase, Flicker

Courtesy Incase, Flickr

3.  Re-establish a program council with decision making authority and broad-based listener and staff participation to evaluate existing programs and new proposals.

4.   Counter the influence of corporate political parties’ monopoly on opinion and assert a clear anti-war perspective. Honor the value of drama and humor  and include them in our programs.

5.  Improve access to resources and training for unpaid staff and provide all staff, paid and unpaid, the right to unionize.

6.  Provide a transparent and sustainable budget that aligns spending with actual income: Decrease the number of on air pledge drives.  No underwriting or advertising.

7.  Participate in a network-wide process to further democratize Pacifica/KPFA and improve financial stability.  We are committed to preserving the 5 stations, the national archives and affiliate services.

If you like this Platform, please support UCR’s campaign by making a donation:

Microphone photo license here

Historical Analysis: KPFA’s Working Majority Gets Screwed by CWA Job Trust

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by Isis Feral

I was raised by several generations of labor organizers, and in every labor dispute my side is easily chosen. I don’t cross picket lines, and I always stand with the workers against their bosses. The current conflict inside KPFA is the first time I’ve ever seen my community divided on an issue concerning labor solidarity.

While labor struggles are usually strictly polarized, it is important to keep in mind that KPFA is a nonprofit community radio station, where the traditional class lines are much harder to draw. In theory the community is in charge of the station, or at least it should be.  It’s the community who pays the bills, and who this station claims to serve.

Community radio is supposed to be by and for the community, more like a movement than a business. The majority of KPFA workers are community members, who donate their labor for free. As some tasks require consistent, daily attention, a limited number of workers must be paid for their time, because volunteering the necessary hours would interfere with their ability to make a living. The line between workers and management is blurry, to say the least. To complicate matters, several unionized workers recently held management positions, or effectively behave like managers.
Read More

For some time now a group among the paid workers and their allies on the Local Station Board (LSB) have largely held control over the management of the station. With the capitalist economic crisis crippling our communities, the station’s income has understandably been less. When budget cuts had to be made, they were agreed to by this group, but were never implemented. This happened two years in a row. With each new budget, the cuts were deeper, because the previous cuts were never made. Now the necessary cuts are deeper still, because KPFA funds were massively mismanaged: More money was spent than was coming in, including a million dollars the station had in reserve. The height of incompetence was achieved when a six figure check intended to earn interest sat in their general manager’s desk for a year instead of being deposited, apparently unnoticed even by their treasurer. Recent payroll funds had to be borrowed from another station. The station is broke and we’re at risk of losing it altogether.

On the LSB this managing group was represented by the slate calling itself Concerned Listeners. Right before the last elections this slate renamed itself Save KPFA, in what appeared to be an effort to confuse and solicit the support of voters who remember the original Save KPFA, which had the polar opposite intent of this group: The original organization officially formed in order to defend community control of the radio station in the 1990′s. This new group, on the other hand, has actively attempted to dismantle community oversight, and to defer control to a small percentage of KPFA staff, who call themselves KPFA Worker. The appropriation of another organization’s name, and attempt to benefit from its history, was just one of several unfair campaign practices this group has been involved in over the years. Among other things, they repeatedly used the airwaves to gain support for their slate, without giving the other candidates fair access to do the same.

The new Save KPFA is representing the issue as a labor dispute, and is claiming that the union of the paid workers is getting busted. Let me be clear: There is currently NO union busting going on at KPFA. Because of the deficit, and a refusal to actually implement budgets these people had agreed to, the axe that is falling now is impacting some of their own people, not just the jobs of others that they themselves have threatened to eliminate, or eliminated already. These cuts are being represented as going by a “hit list” against progressive programmers, but actually they are being made by seniority, and follow the guidelines of their own union contract, unlike the cuts they have advocated themselves. It’s terrible to see people losing their jobs, but this is not union busting by any stretch of the imagination.

The real union busting that happened at KPFA was in the 1990′s, when the Pacifica National Board, which was at the time undemocratically appointed, hired professional union busters, the American Consulting Group. They busted the independent, progressive United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), which represented all KPFA workers, both paid and unpaid. Local 9415 of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) swooped in like a vulture, and became an exclusive job trust for the paid staff. Many people now refer to the managing faction of the still unionized workers as the “entrenched staff”, and some call the CWA a “scab union”. From the start the CWA played the divisive role of an elitist private club, rather than that of a union. To this date unpaid workers, who currently make up about 80% of KPFA’s workforce, are barred from membership. Many of them have been donating their labor to KPFA for many years. Without them the station and community radio cannot exist.

Unpaid staff represented by the UE were entitled to such benefits as travel expenses and childcare. The latter is particularly relevant in considering what happened to Nadra Foster in 2008, when she was accused of misappropriating KPFA resources, after printing out a few sheets of math homework to keep her children engaged while she was working. This accusation lead to her getting banned from the station, charged with trespassing, and beaten and injured by the cops, who were called by management without any interference from the entrenched staff. Even in the aftermath their names are conspicuously absent among those of 74 of their fellow workers, who condemned management’s use of police force, and expressed solidarity with Nadra.

The year prior, right before the 2007 LSB elections, the Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO), which is the closest thing to a union for volunteering workers at KPFA, was decertified (a friendly name for union busting) by station management supported by these Concerned Listeners. This move eliminated the rights of many of the unpaid staff to participate in the elections. In 2005 a leaked email among members of the entrenched staff and their supporters, the suggestion was made that perhaps the LSB should be dismantled altogether. Under their management the Program Council, previously in charge of deciding programming, has also been effectively stripped of its power. Does this sound like community control?

As a child of the labor movement, I am appalled to see people, who are behaving as management at the station, opportunistically exploiting their on-paper union membership to solicit the support of the labor movement and the left, while they are refusing to comply with the very union contract, that was negotiated on the backs of their sacrificed fellow workers. I believe that the fake Save KPFA (on Indybay someone refers to them as “Slave KPFA”) and the KPFA Worker group are misrepresenting this as a labor dispute in an attempt to politically legitimize their turf war. What they are teaching listeners about community building and organizing labor are disastrous lessons to be aired on a supposedly progressive radio station, and represents a grave disservice to the community at large, and the labor movement in particular.

The recent “informational picket” was another example of this group merely posturing as organized labor. Using the word “picket” to describe a protest, which does not have the explicit intent to blockade, teaches people that real picket lines are negotiable, that it’s okay to cross them. Historically picket lines are not merely gatherings where we exercise free speech. They are a very specific form of direct action. Picket lines mean don’t cross! It’s not a matter of semantics. Picket lines are THE militant direct action tradition of the labor movement. Of course, this point is likely lost on KPFA’s current union staff, since their right to strike was bargained away for higher pay by the CWA, as they betrayed their fellow workers of the UE.

The Pacifica management of the 1990′s recognized that the UE represented not just workers, but that the workers in turn represent our communities. Replacing the UE with the CWA created a deep division within KPFA, and paved the way for what we are witnessing today. The current crisis is part of a long history of attempts to undermine community control at the station, and to turn it into just another main stream professional media outlet. But one doesn’t have to be a professional to understand what generations of working class people have taken for granted as basic common decency: Any labor organization that does not represent all workers has no business calling itself a union.

Union corruption has become a stereotype used by conservatives to rally working people against unionizing. What they conveniently leave out is that unions belong to workers, not to paid union bureaucrats who corrupt the union’s integrity, as well as their own, as they negotiate compromises with the boss. When there is such corruption, it’s the responsibility of the rank and file to reclaim the union as the tool for which it was intended. A union’s primary purpose is to unite workers. The CWA must be held accountable, not be rewarded with community solidarity, for its divisive role at KPFA. If the union continues to refuse membership and the right to collective bargaining to the majority of KPFA workers, unpaid workers owe it to themselves and their communities, to organize union representation for themselves elsewhere. I urge the KPFA community at large, including those paid workers who still remember what solidarity really means, to encourage and actively aid such efforts.


Note: The author is an autonomous activist, who is not affiliated with, nor endorses, any of the LSB election slates, nor any other organization, but writes strictly from her own conscience. The embedded links in this text are not exhaustive evidence to support my views, but merely a small selection of additional information I found personally helpful in illustrating my position. I encourage all to do your own research and fact-checking and reach your own conclusions.

November 17, 2012


© 2012 Support KPFA Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha


Bringing Peace to KPFA

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Aki GraphicBy Akio Tanaka
[KPFA LSB Member 2006-2012]

Article as flyer:  Peace to KPFA

Underlying problems

Whenever there is a conflict, there is always an escalation in rhetoric, like when there was the divisive and inflammatory charge a few years ago that the Pacifica National Office engaged in union busting. We should avoid getting caught up in the rhetoric and address the real problems and concerns.

One underlying problem is financial. The trauma of the layoffs in 2010 was the consequence of the station increasing the payroll by 140% between 2000 and 2009. Even with the cuts made in 2010, income has not kept up with the expenses.

One area of friction is programming. It stands to reason that a trade union looking after the financial security of its members will prefer programming which appeals to a more affluent audience. But the mission of Pacifica is to be the commons of the airwaves, to represent a broader and more diverse community, to include marginalized and under-represented voices. Read More

[Lew Hill, the founder of Pacifica, was a conscientious objector. One such program was the Morning Mix, which was a show begun in 2010 and produced by members of local activist community; however, in 2014 it was inexplicably replaced by a show produced in LA.]

Another area of friction is the working relationship between paid and unpaid staff. Originally, both were represented by one “industrial” union. In 1996, it was replaced by a “craft” union which only represented the paid staff. This created a class system resulting in an uneasy working relationship between the paid and the unpaid staff.

Possible Solutions

So what to do with these conflicting needs and interests? How does a union look after the financial security of its members in a non-profit organization that relies on donations by listeners, does not make profits and must live within a balanced budget?

The management and the union should work out a staffing level that is sustainable over the economic ups and downs, and avoid the temptation to add more paid staff during the economic boom times as happened in 2001-2006. Achieving a sustainable paid staffing level is a challenge, but it would help address the main source of tension. It could curtail the seemingly endless appeal for funds. It could put a stop to the unseemly practice of measuring the value of a program by the amount of money it brings in – a sad and ironic state of affairs.

The primary task of the station should be to fulfill the mission of Pacifica. We should bring back the locally produced show, the Morning Mix, during the morning “drive time.”

It is important to note that KPFA has always relied on a large number of volunteers who produce the majority of programming. At KPFA there simply is not enough money to pay all those who contribute to the station. Progressive organizations like KPFA should have one all inclusive union for everyone who works at the station. While the notion of workers’ rights resonates to all within the progressive community, it must be remembered that it is about respecting and honoring ALL workers.

Instead of taking sides, we as listeners should encourage the paid and unpaid staff to work together and help each other to produce the best in progressive radio. It is time for the staff, paid and unpaid, and for the listeners to embrace the democratic victory that was won in the legal and street battles of 1999-2001. It is time to stop dividing the station.

13 Years of KPFA Finances

1. Listener Support:  There has been a claim that cancellation of the Morning Show in fall of 2010 resulted in sharp decline in Listener Support.
The audited financials show that steep decline in Listener Support occurred between 2006 and 2010, before the change. (Adjusted for inflation, since 2010, Listener Support is back to the 2000 level, irrespective of the morning programming line-up.)

2. Salary and Benefits: Some have charged that Pacifica usurped local control and engaged in
union busting.
The audited financials show that between 2002 and 2006, under local control, the station added way too many people (the payroll more than doubled), and between 2006 and 2010, under local control, the station did not address the steep decline in Listener Support. By the fall of 2010, the station was in danger of insolvency, which is the only reason that the Pacifica National Office stepped in, to bring expenses in line with income. (Adjusted for inflation, even with the cuts that were made in 2010, Salaries and Benefits are still above the 2000 level.)

3. Central Services: There has been a claim that there was massive overspending at the Pacifica National Office. Central Services pay for network administrative services like FCC licenses, audit, insurance, legal, Pacifica archives, and national programming like Democracy Now! (Adjusted for inflation, since 2010, Central Services has been below the 2000 level.)


“Save KPFA” Member Opposes Posting Video of Rally Protesting Murders in South Carolina

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On June 18, 2015, the UC Berkeley Black Student Union led a protest and speak-out at Sproul Plaza, bringing together students, labor, and community members  to protest and condemn the terrorism and racist murder of South Carolina church parishioners.  Steve Zeltzer, a member of the KPFA live streaming team, went to the rally and took the video.

KPFA recently added a video page on its website specifically for streaming videos. But, this important video has not been posted on the website.

In an email exchange that included members of the the KPFA Local Station Board attending the LSB meeting on July 11, 2015, KPFA producer and UCR participant Frank Sterling asked the LSB why this video was not posted on the KPFA website.

This simple question resulted in derision and insults from “Save KPFA” stalwart Mal Burnstein, as shown by the following email exchange:

Email From Frank Sterling:

Greeting folks LSB, PNB, and Other folks,

I do not want to come off as a pest or a bother to management or to anyone who reads this but, I have recently asked that some videos be posted to the kpfa video page………..

This first video here was from the June 18, 2015 rally, concerning the murder of South Carolina church parishioners. The University of California, Berkeley, Black Student Union members, students, labor and community people rallied at the UC Berkley campus Historic Sproul Plaza to protest and condemn the terrorism and racist murders of South Carolina church parishioners. The video was taken by KPFA producer Steve Zeltzer a member of the KPFA live streaming team–Production of Labor Video Project.

Malcolm Burnstein, one of Save KPFA’s top vote getter from past LSB elections responded by email:

I hope I am not the only lsb member who is getting goddamned tired of one lsb member complaining to us about management not doing, or doing something he doesn’t like! His failings as an employee should not continuously waste our time. We have far more important things to do. To be clear, if I had to vote on whether we have competent management or whether Frank is a competent person, management would win hands down. I’m really tired of him running to us every time he gets a boo boo.

……But I do question his competence or his intelligence. If he had the later, he would not be always trying to use us to second guess management.


Frank refused to respond to Burnstein’s insulting communication style, emailing again:

I presented my problem to people who have some vested interest in KPFA or Pacifica, it could just be love for the network, or an urge inside to make our world a better place through broadcast media… whatever. There is a problem I presented. I ask for any solutions… opinions… ways to move forward..??

There is a simple question here for you all. Why not these videos? What is the video channel, that we the video streaming task force got put on kpfa.org for?? What?

Has anyone gone there to see for themselves what is there…
here is the link https://kpfa.org/category/videos/

Why is this old 2007 video and an unrelated video doing at the top of the video page when we have recent and relevant kpfa material that is being denied access. Why are those videos at the top of the page and buried at the bottom is a 2015 video production covering the Palestinian Israeli issues produced by kpfa apprentices remain at the bottom?? Why??  These are the questions… not my competence or my intelligence..

Can anyone give me a good answer to these questions..not just try and insult me


People all over the world are horrified and traumatized by the Charleston murders, the burning of African American churches, and the ongoing murders of people of color by the police in cities across the United States. Corporate media coverage has been incomplete at best.  And, “Save KPFA” apparently feels that this story is unimportant, as well.

We, at United for Community Radio, are dedicated to bringing the people’s news to the people.

Liberate Media Together!!!

Vote for UCR candidates in the upcoming KPFA LSB election.


by UCR Website Committee

Lords & Ladies v.s. The Peasants at KPFA

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An allegory of the struggle at KPFA

by Daniel Borgström

Longtime KPFA listeners remember 1999 as the year of the Hijacking, the Lockout, and the massive response. Ten thousand people marched through the streets of Berkeley chanting “Take back KPFA!” and “Save Pacifica!”  And, as a matter of fact, KPFA and Pacifica Radio were rescued. The good guys really had won, or so it seemed at the time.  But the struggle has continued. Today, in 2015, the future of KPFA/Pacifica is more precarious than ever.

One of the many graphics from the 1999 struggle.  Santa holds the listeners like a baby.  Beside her right knee, a sign reads "Get a Free Lump of Coal from Santa Chadwick."  It refers to the then Pacifica Executive Director Lynn Chadwick.

One of the many graphics from the 1999 struggle. Santa holds the listeners like a baby. Beside her right knee, a sign reads “Get a Free Lump of Coal from Santa Chadwick.” It refers to the then Pacifica Executive Director Lynn Chadwick.

Sadly, this KPFA scenario is a common one in the affairs of humankind. I missed the French Revolution, but I imagine it went much like the one at KPFA.  The Bastille was stormed in a day, but what followed were meetings, meetings, and more meetings.  That’s probably true of all revolutions: there’s a dramatic moment, then months, years, even decades of intense, parliamentary struggle. Issues get complicated, seemingly arcane, and the struggle is vicious; people are sent to the guillotine.   Why the conflict? people ask, wondering why the former comrades can’t just be nice to each other and get along.
It also features a … read more
The KPFA upheaval of 1999 began, very much like the French Revolution, with a split among the power elite. Like Louis XVI of France, the headstrong monarch of KPFA/Pacifica quarreled with her courtiers, threw them out of the palace, locked the gate, and called in mercenary troops — rent-a-cops.  The disenfranchised nobility, losing their wits and acting out of sheer desperation, allied themselves with dissidents, appealed to the rabble, and called for mass demonstrations.

The response was huge, and thousands were suddenly marching in the streets.  To the astonishment of everyone, the rebels emerged victorious.  The intolerable monarch went into exile, leaving the kingdom to the triumphant revolutionaries — a motley assemblage of commoners, peasants and riffraff, together with nobility and bureaucrats from the old regime.  Everyone pledged eternal loyalty to the ideals of the revolution, the Mission Statement.

_DSC0181&175_free_speech_joAt first there was wild jubilation, dancing in the streets, and a huge amount of good feeling.  All the worthy people were dear sisters and brothers, in a splendid state of living happily ever after.  The bluebloods and bureaucrats from the old regime joined in the celebrations together with their low-class brethren, graciously tolerating the situation, putting a good face on it, and biding their time.

The trouble was that the ungracious mob expected to have a say in the running of the new regime.  So the lords and ladies were then faced with the daunting task of getting this horde of loud, smelly, cantankerous, meddlesome peasants to leave the castle, go back to tilling the lands, and give up their preposterous notions of involving themselves in governance.

That’s been the basic scenario in just about every revolution on record, and KPFA has been no exception to the pattern.  Major differences and animosities began to surface during the drafting of Pacifica’s new constitution, known as “The Bylaws.”  Courtiers and bureaucrats from the old regime tried to bend the new document to their liking, intending to preserve whatever they could of their former status and privileges; they did win major concessions.  Nevertheless, the dissidents stuck to a vision they’d been nurturing for many long years during the decade preceding 1999.  The traditional motto of “liberté, égalité, fraternité” was updated to include “democracy, transparency, accountability.”

The outcome beginning in 2002 was a radically new system of radio governance, a “listener democracy.”   Listener-members who donated $25 or more to the station became voters, choosing their representatives to sit on boards overseeing the KPFA station and the Pacifica radio network.  In radio governance, this was a revolutionary concept; however the Lords & Ladies found it absolutely revolting.

(The outraged bluebloods are the relatively small clique of gatekeepers who run the station; some have been there for over three decades, others are fairly new.  Most of the unpaid staff, who in fact produce most of the programming, are excluded from the ruling clique, as are some of the paid programmers.  They’re part of the peasantry.)

There was a time, the good old days, when peasants knew their place.  One can sympathize with the plight and anguish of the once proud KPFA aristocrats, courtiers, and bureaucrats, who found themselves sitting shoulder to shoulder with unwashed peasants who had the audacity to ask nosy questions, and worst of all, expect that the station live within its financial means.  Peasants can be so intolerably frugal; they want to know how the listeners’ money is being spent.

Money, and how it gets used, misused or just plain wasted, has been an ongoing issue.  Programming is another: should KPFA be the voice of progressive social movements?  Listener democracy itself is of course among the major controversies: should the board be elected by listeners, or appointed, and if appointed, appointed by whom?

I won’t say more about the issues here, or try to list them, as they’re discussed elsewhere in numerous articles.  What I do want to point out is that this struggle was going on long before the events of 1999, and it continues.  The basic issues have remained largely the same for the last 25 or 30 years.

In the French Revolution, as in so many others, the aristocrats (or some newly minted aristocrats) were soon back in power.  But does it really always have to turn out that way?  At KPFA the outlook is not optimistic.  Nevertheless, the peasants have somehow managed to hang in there for the sixteen years since 1999, struggling toward a different outcome.

Daniel Borgström is a descendent of European peasants who lives in Berkeley and listens to KPFA 94.1 FM.  You can find this article and more at Daniel’s blog.

Hands off Frank: Open letter to the KPFA Local Station Board

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To the KPFA Local Station Board (LSB):

I am appalled by Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Mal Burnstein’s insults to KPFA Apprenticeship Co-Director and LSB staff representative Frank Sterling during the board’s last meeting.


Frank Sterling, right, on the air with the KPFA Apprentices’ “Full Circle” radio hour.

Frank is the heart and soul of KPFA at this moment in time. Not only because he is trying to lead the station, kicking and screaming, into the new Web-based media universe, but also because he donates so many hours to the Apprenticeship Program and engages with the KPFA community that is trying, against all odds, to stand up to perpetual war, climate catastrophe, and plutocracy’s fierce determination to own and control every last dollar and resource on the planet.

These “leave it all to the professional manager” and “the board is just there to fundraise” mantras are equally huge insults to KPFA’s listener community. Continue reading

Towards Improving Local Community News and Public Affairs

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(Submitted by listener-representative Andrea Prichett to the KPFA Local Station Board, 4-11-15   Developed by Carole Wolfey.  The board has agreed to take up this proposal at their next  meeting, Saturday, May 9, 11 am – 4 pm.   See below for a link to the audio of the board discussion thus far.)

The LSB asks that KPFA General Manager and staff work with community members to develop a coordinated station-wide plan for providing local news and public affairs programming in alignment with KPFAs mission to cover local events and topics with a depth, insight and broad signal range that no other station can do.

This plan may include exploration of possibilities to increase access to information from the community such as:

1.  Organize an electronic bulletin board to share and utilize news and public affairs information resources from the KPFA community, local organizations and the public.Community bulletin board



2.  Establish a list of people involved with social justice, political, economic and environmental issues from our local geographical areas who we can invite to contribute to local news and public affairs programs as citizen journalists.


3.   Expand recruitment and training of program interns for news and public affairs. Articulate requirements for becoming an intern and make these requirement broadly known and available on our website to attract people who are skilled and/or interested in contributing to programming.


4.   Develop and communicate a system for programmers to be able to receive and use recorded segments from community members for news and public affairs programs.


5.  Utilize Twitter, Facebook and live stream channels to get up to the minute information for news and public affairs programs.

Coordinate a station-wide system for providing local news
and public affairs programming

6.  Create daily programs or parts of programs that focus primarily on local community news and public affairs at predictable and regular times during the work week.phone to the microphone


7.  Develop a protocol that clarifies when/how to cover breaking news in our signal range and to pre-empt programming in significant and emergency situations.


8.  Expand use of video channel and live streaming channel to cover local news and public affairs and cultural events.


Communicate regularly with listeners and viewers
about local news and public affairs.

9.  Develop outreach materials to let people know about station coverage of local news and public affairs programs and feature it on the website, the video channel, Twitter and Facebook. Include information about all the station resources including KPFA, KPFB, KPFA video channel, KPFA Facebook, KPFA Twitter, KPFA on You Tube and kpfa.org with program archives.hand offering mic


10.  Post written local news and public affairs stories on the KPFA website so that they can be accessed through computer searches.


11.  Increase (through training and recruitment of volunteers) our capacity to provide responses to emails and calls that are received at the station.


Here’s the audio of the Local Station Board’s initial discussion of this proposal as well as a discussion of policies and procedures for pre-emptions and special programming at KPFA.


KPFA, the PNB and “Local Control”

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by Ann Garrison

 I can’t always respond to developments within the Pacifica Radio Network at the time they occur, so this is a look back at one of this year’s most noteworthy Pacifica National Board (PNB) votes. On 02/12/2015, the PNB voted to give the Pacifica Foundation CFO authority over the business managers at all five Pacifica stations.

This has remained on my mind because of its glaring inconsistency with the longstanding “local control” platform of the SaveKPFA majority on the KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) and their PNB delegates. I have never seen a SaveKPFA explanation of how this could be compatible with the “local control” they hailed five months earlier with “Finally, local control at KPFA,” a 07/12/2014 post to the SaveKPFA blog. This vote put newly re-hired CFO Raul Salvador in a position to hire and fire and give orders to the business managers at all five stations from coast to coast.

Janet Kobren, who ran for the LSB with the United for Community Radio caucus, introduced the motion. The SaveKPFA caucus then joined her in voting for it after Brian Edwards-Tiekert, a SaveKPFA staff representative, introduced this substitute wording:

The hire and/or termination of any Business Manager shall require approval by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

The CFO shall also directly supervise all accounting functions performed by Business Managers and shall participate in all evaluations of Business Managers.

The CFO may seek PNB approval for the termination of a Business Manager whose unit manager is unwilling to terminate him/her at the CFO’s recommendation.

How could this be “local control”?

Local control, the 2013 audit, and a million dollars in lost CPB funding

During Summer Reese’s tenure as IGM and GM, the accounting staff at the PNO charged that the 2013 audit could not be completed in 2014 unless KPFA’s Business Manager Maria Negret agreed to open KPFA’s books for the PNO’s lead accountant Maria Gaite. This audit had to be completed in order for Pacifica to receive the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)  funds that it ultimately did not receive in 2014.

At one point I became so exasperated by the back and forth about this that I wrote to ask former KPFA General Manager Richard Pirodsky what the real problem was, and this was his e-mailed response:

“That the reconciliations should have been done long ago is the start of the problem. But it has been overcome at other stations. (Maria G. and Joyce had to do all of KPFK’s work, and work at KPFT, WPFW, and WBAI had to be re-done. All this delayed the entire process.) The holdup at KPFA came from the Marias (G. & N.), [Maria Gaite at the Pacifica National Office and Maria Negret at KPFA], not being able to work together. Maria G. wanted copies of all necessary documents. Maria N. wanted Maria G. to come over to the KPFA business office and work with her. She offered access to the original documents and Maria G. (or a chosen PNO staffer) was free to make copies of any documents that needed to be taken back to the PNO. But Maria N. and Maria G. just don’t get along and don’t seem to agree on much. As with so many aspects of Pacifica, personality conflicts preclude even the discussion of compromise or cooperation.”

I have two responses to that message:

1)  Richard Pirodsky was KPFA’s General Manager at the time. This PNB resolution centralizing control of Pacifica’s finances in the national office had not yet been passed, so he was at that time Maria Negret’s direct supervisor. He was the local manager in local control, as the SaveKPFA caucus seemed to advocate, and a million dollars is a lot to lose over a “personality conflict between the two Marias.” Didn’t he feel compelled to tell KPFA’s Maria Negret that he expected her to cooperate with the national office to get the audit done, as all four other stations’ business managers had?

Apparently not, and now, despite the loss of a million dollars in CPB funding in the name of local control, KPFA’s local manager has even less local control than before.

2)  What could have been the risk in releasing KPFA’s books to the Pacifica National Office for the audit, as every other station in the network had?  And why, after the current Board majority ousted Executive Director Summer Reese and rehired CFO Raul Salvador, was the PNB majority, and more particularly the SaveKPFA caucus, so eager to throw “local control” out the window?  The only logical conclusion I can come to is that “local control” was a useful mantra only until the SaveKPFA caucus and its allies were able to put Raul Salvador back in charge of Pacifica’s finances at the national office.

If they can explain this otherwise, I’ll do my best to listen with an open mind.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist, a contributor to the KPFA Evening News and a member of KPFA’s elected UPSO Council.