Welcome Back – KPFA Phone Room

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Phone Room 1KPFA’s  fund drive phone room, where listener volunteers answer the phone to take pledges, is one of the only regularly scheduled events that brings KPFA listeners through the station’s doors. The phone room gives listeners the opportunity to meet one another, in the phone room and over the phone, and allows informal contact with KPFA staff.

During the past two fund drives, the switch to an automated system upset many listeners and staff, so it was a welcome relief when the phone room was reestablished beginning with the December 2014 fund drive.

During the pledge periods that were handled by the automated phone system, some KPFA hosts reported that listeners were unable to get through to pledge. Peter Gill, who has been a phone room volunteer since the station was located on Shattuck Avenue, wrote:

I have now heard I believe it is the fifth on-air host saying that they have been getting calls from people attempting to call and pledge over the phone that these people have been having trouble getting through. In all of the decades that I have been listening to KPFA I can’t remember ever hearing an on-air person say this before.

I thought that the rationale for switching from volunteer phone answerers to a call center was that calls were being missed by the phone volunteers, a problem which I as a phone volunteer never saw. What is going on here? Add to this the added cost of the call center and the whole thing makes no sense. I greatly enjoyed volunteering and it was a great way for those with not much money to become members.

Phone room 2Some staff and listeners also objected to using KPFA and KPFK listeners’ contributions to pay Comnet, the Oregon-based commercial call center, after it was revealed that its owner, Bruce Hough, works as a right-wing campaign consultant.

So, welcome back to the phone room and to all the loyal listener member volunteers who staff it.  May it be one of many things grounding KPFA in our local communities for many years to come.

By Ann Garrison