Don Macleay

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years working for the Sandinistas, 19-year school volunteer, Green Party activist, former union organizer and shop steward in Oakland 

Don Macleay for station board 2015. The community needs our community radio station to thrive and do quality journalism.

With newspapers going out of print, investigative journalism running out of funds and big business buying up what media remains, our local, community owned and operated radio stations have become more needed than ever. We need them because they are one of the few sources of news left that is independent from the commercial interests; and we need them more than ever because journalism itself is becoming scarce, weak and compromised.
There used to be some bright lights from privately owned media and our so-called “public” media but they are becoming fewer and dimmer.

A station like KPFA is one of the rare gems we have left and we need to take good care of it.  Getting more people to listen, join, and become dues paying members and getting more members of our communities to volunteer and be part of making our own media, will make our station stronger and keep us on the path of handing this resource off in good condition to the next generations, just as it was handed off to us.

KPFA does a good job in many things, and could be doing a better job in almost all of them.  Using the people and resources we already have, we should be the number one stop on the dial for local news in the Bay Area. We can deliver independent, smart journalism the public can trust.

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What I would like to see is better coordination, more responsiveness and more relevance in our on-air presence. We need to support all of our people and build up our sense of community and teamwork.

As a board member, I will have two key priorities:
1 Bring in more listeners.
2 Improve the quality of what is on the air.

And I will work cooperatively, respectfully and appreciatively with all other members of the board, from whatever faction to move forward on these two goals. I will also work to foster high moral and a sense of cooperative support among the community of employees, volunteers and active community members who help make this station run.

I am very informed about the issues of the day around our schools, our local politics and issues around incarceration, restorative justice and police accountability. I also have strong technical and foreign languages skills to put to the service of our station.

I am grateful for endorsements from Laura Wells, Janet Arnold, Greg Jan, Akio Tanaka, and Marilyn Langlois and I am proud to be working with United for Community Radio.


Official Q & A

1.  In what ways are the station moving in a positive direction, that you would want to continue or perhaps improve?

Our programming has quality, breadth, depth, and diversity as a whole. We can bring a lot of intelligent, independent voices to almost any subject, giving the community better quality current news and much better background and in-depth analysis than most anyone else on the air.I would like to see it all work more like a team making better use of our plethora of informed, experienced people. I’d like to see a more coordinated, proactive and quick response approach.

Martin Luther King Jr. March in Oakland, California.  Photo by Daniel Arauz

Martin Luther King Jr. March in Oakland, California. Photo by Daniel Arauz

When events take place in our community, KPFA has what it needs to become the number one place people in the Bay Area should look for news.

As important events come out in the news, KPFA also has what it needs to become the number one place where we tune in to make sense of it all. We got a lot, we should leverage it more.


2.  In what ways are the station moving in a negative direction, that you would want to stop or change? What changes would you work for?

The noise of our factional infighting at KPFA has become the noise of the neighborhood couple who are always shouting at each other. The neighbors do not ask what they are shouting about. They ask why there is so much drama and excessiveness. It is giving the whole Pacifica movement a bad reputation.The nasty tone of our infighting is all over social media and our election debate broadcasts.
On the air, our shows are obviously very disjointed. Often they duplicate each other on background discussions and they do not seem to be part of some overall programming plan. The quality of our on the air sound, and tone needs more attention than it gets.The sound and tone of our on-air pledge drives has become very off putting. This badgering hurts our public image, as does the number and length of those drives. Community members tune away, and established KPFA members also tune away.I think we need more attention to the craft of radio using all our skilled people to give us better overall programming quality, coordination and to make our fundraising a festive period instead of a dreaded burden that turns listeners off.

3.  What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission?

My contribution to KPFA focuses on the commitment to PUBLIC INFORMATION.
I bring technical skills to the team that will make me an informed board member.
My tech skills are in electronics, mechanics and more recently computer networking.
As a person who speaks six languages, I can offer some help understanding different communities and international affairs and knowledge of international media.

Children singing the Internationale, at the 20th Anniversary of Brazil's Landless Workers Movement

Children singing the Internationale, at the 20th Anniversary of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement

I have a deep connection with Latin America and am happy to help us expand our coverage in Spanish and our outreach in the Spanish speaking listening area.  My participation on the board will also be informed by past experience working in the nonprofit sector as a project director and a board member of other organizations.  I currently sit on a business district board and am very used to working with people who hold different views, which will be needed to face KPFA’s challenges.

4.  What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced?


I think the station should live within its means and have a cautious budget.
The most important task we have in front of us is to expand the audience and from there expand the number of listeners who join up as dues-paying, voting members. This is the base that we should grow.I think every show should be involved in helping build up the listenership for their show, and for the station as a whole. I think we should consider shows and formats that bring in younger listeners.We should also reduce costs by being more of a part of the local community media efforts. There are nonprofits and schools that we could collaborate with to mutual benefit.At times we need to hold off on new shows until we have the money and volunteer time needed. That includes a local news segment, which I support.If a show has individual grants, we need to make sure that there is a firewall protecting the rest of station operations in case that grant gets discontinued.