Lack of Diversity and Corporate Dominance Characterize NPR

 

By:  UCR Candidate Sharon Adams

A recent article by FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, Inc.) shows the heavy corporate presence and lack of diversity at National Public Radio (NPR) both in the NPR boardroom, and on its airwaves.

Lack of Diversity and Corporate Dominance Characterize NPR Board Members
Seventy-five percent of board members at NPR’s most popular member stations have corporate backgrounds. As shown in the graph, one New York station has a whopping 90 percent corporate representation on its board.

Graph showing corporate dominance in NPR boards. Graph courtesy of FAIR.

Graph showing corporate dominance in NPR boards. Graph courtesy of FAIR.

As the FAIR article succinctly states:

“the inevitable consequence of this is to put legal control of what is supposed to be public radio into the hands of a tiny, highly privileged fraction of the population.”

In addition to the lack of economic diversity, the FAIR study showed a lack of ethnic and gender diversity on the NPR boards. Seventy-two percent of NPR board members are non-Latino whites, and 66 percent of board members are male.

NPR Airwaves Dominated By White Males
Another FAIR study found that, among the regular news commentators, 79 percent were men, and 92 percent were non-Latino whites.

KPFA Must Remain Free of Corporate Control
We at United for Community Radio (UCR)  are committed to increasing diversity in the KPFA boardroom and on the airwaves. The upcoming election for the KPFA Local Station Board gives us an opportunity to do this.  UCR’s platform specifically opposes corporate influence, and supports a mix of community-sourced, local programming.

We at UCR believe the NPR approach is the wrong approach.  This is in contrast to our opponents running in the upcoming election.  Our opponents suggest that KPFA should become “more like NPR”. The opposition’s desire to make KPFA more like NPR will lead to exactly what is happening at NPR — an increased corporate zeitgeist that will control the news and views expressed on KPFA.

LET’S LIBERATE MEDIA TOGETHER!!!

Keep KPFA free from corporate control and influence.
Vote for the UCR Candidates in the upcoming election for the KPFA Local Station Board.

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United for Community Radio Members Propose Resolution to KPFA to Improve Local Community News Reporting

Black Lives Matter members speak at NAACP event on race, equity and gentrification. Over 200 people attended. KPFA did not cover the story.

Black Lives Matter members speak at NAACP event on race, equity and gentrification. Over 200 people attended. KPFA did not cover the story.

 

United for Community Radio (UCR) member Andrea Pritchett proposed a resolution to the KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) to build a powerful news and public affairs network that is broad based and well coordinated.

Carol Wolfley, a member of the KPFA Community Advisory Board, worked with KPFA listeners,  members of local organizations and with Andrea to develop the Resolution below. This Resolution has been presented to the LSB, and is scheduled to come up again at future LSB meetings.

UCR and its candidates believe we need to speak truth to power. We want community-sourced, local, daily, prime-time programming—where we are making news together. For example, the NAACP recently had a community forum on race, equity and gentrification (see photo above). We at UCR believe this type of event should be covered by KPFA.

Local, community sourced programming would address issues of profiling and violence directed at people of color, and discrimination based on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. It would cover what people are doing in the face of police militarization, and housing, health, water, economic, educational, and environmental depredation. We need programs that tell these stories, locally, regionally and globally.

PROPOSED RESOLUTION:
The Local Station Board 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 may 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
  1. 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
  1. 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 so that volunteers outreaches can assist in finding volunteers.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

  1. 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
  1. Coordinate KPFA programming in relation to topics to avoid repetition from one program to the next.
  1. Increase programming that includes listener phone in time.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. Post written local news and public affairs stories on the KPFA website so that they can be accessed easily through computer searches
  1. Increase (through training and recruitment of volunteers) our capacity to provide responses to emails and calls that are received at the station.

LIBERATE MEDIA TOGETHER!!!

VOTE FOR ALL UCR CANDIDATES IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION TO THE KPFA LSB

More photos from NAACP event:

NAACP President Mansour Id-Deen and VP Barbara White

NAACP President Mansour Id-Deen and VP Barbara White

Community members at NAACP forum

Community members at NAACP forum

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

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

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

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Is KPFA Community Radio Going Extinct? by Eric James Anderson

Originally printed in Oakland Local http://oaklandlocal.com/2014/06/kpfa-community-radio/

Reprinted in SF Gate

kpfa_save_morning_mix-659x366

Is KPFA Community Radio Going Extinct?

With its recent street protests, office occupations, and renegade broadcasts, Berkeley’s community radio station KPFA (94.1FM) typifies what people mean when they use the word “Berserkeley.” However, these confrontations are not merely some beatnik brouhaha, but in fact represent an existential threat to the future of community radio, and implicate one of Oakland’s current Mayoral candidates, Dan Siegel.

The most recent dispute is over the abrupt replacement of the locally-produced 8 a.m. show The Morning Mix with a radio program from LA called The Uprisingostensibly because the new show will generate more revenue during pledge drives. In response to being rescheduled and shortened, the hosts of The Morning Mix held protest rallies outside the KPFA building and took over the studio on May 26 to air their concerns.

According to Andrés Soto, one of the hosts of The Morning Mix‘s five rotating shows“I was really displeased that the morning mix has become a political football between rival factions…the morning mix, as an expression of authentic community voices, is what deserves to be heard.”

But, according to Richard Pirodsky, the Interim General Manager of the station, “The problem was that even though it had been on the air for three years, only one of the five Morning Mix shows was generating enough listenership and audience to even come close to justifying being in that golden hour.”

Supporters of The Morning Mix are organizing to attend the Community Advisory Board meeting in Oakland this Saturday, as well as hosting a “Save The Morning Mix” barbecue in Berkeley this Sunday, in hopes of pressuring the station to restore the show. While this disagreement and protest may not yet sound worthy of the “existential crisis” label, the story gets much deeper.

The radio station, founded by conscientious objector Lewis Hill in 1949, was the first of what would become the Pacifica Radio network: five stations across the country that are independently operated without any corporate sponsorship. While the accomplishments of this network are many, the predominantly listener-funded, locally-produced shows have struggled to contend with NPR’s corporately-underwritten programs, and with their own ideals of democratic, community-oriented radio.

In 2001, after 3 years of protests and lawsuits following an email leak, the Pacifica board signed a settlement that democratized the governance of the stations, allowing listeners to elect the members of their Local Station Board. Each LSB is comprised of 18 elected listeners and 6 elected staff members. These 24 “delegates” are tasked with forming the annual station budget, filling station management positions, and ensuring the mission of community radio. From these delegates, 4 “directors” are elected yearly to represent their station in the Pacifica National Board, which sets network policy from offices next door to KPFA.

While this settlement was intended to create a truly representative and listener-directed model of community radio, the reality has been more challenging. Chronicbudgetary problems (and their disputed “causes”), opposing visions for the future of the station, and abrasive implementation of management and board decisions (as in abruptly firing the former Executive Director Summer Reese, or canceling The Morning Mix), has led to regular confrontations among the various staff cliques, who at this point openly refer to themselves as “factions.”

At KPFA, the central rift is between the Support KPFA — United For Community Radio (UFCR) faction and the Save KPFA faction. UFCR is the more radical, community-oriented group, while Save KPFA is aligned with the views of management and directors, and, importantly, Dan Siegel, who has a long history with the network and, according to savekpfa.org, was a “representative on the Pacifica National Board until he stepped down in January to run for Mayor of Oakland.”

Many of those sympathetic to the UFCR faction accuse Dan Siegel and Save KPFA of bullying, ignoring legal conflicts of interest, and trying to take over the network in order to sell off the East Coast stations. On the other hand, Save KPFA has accused UFCR of union-bustingsabotage, and trying to take over the network in order to, well, just to take it over.

This is where the existential threat comes in. UFCR is afraid that the station is going to lose sight of its community-radio mission to represent diverse and underserved points of view, and that the historic Pacifica network will be dismantled in the process. On the other hand, Save KPFA is afraid that the governance of the station and the network are excessively democratic, to a point where compromise on the revenue vs. community issue is unattainable and that UFCR will lead Pacifica into bankruptcy.

As Richard Pirodsky, the IGM who made the decision to replaceThe Morning Mix, put it, “they have in some ways been so mission-driven in terms of trying to bring diverse programming that you can’t find elsewhere on the dial, almost to the exclusion of worrying about whether we can afford to continue to do it.”

And this is where the “Berserkeley” side of this situation comes in. Save KPFA currently has enough of a majority with the Pacifica national board to preempt democracy by firing who it wants to fire and cancelling the shows it wants to cancel, leaving UFCR no other options besides protest, occupation and litigation.

There seems little chance of this situation being peaceably resolved, and realistically, this feud poses the greatest threat to the future community radio, but at least we can savor the irony of Save KPFA’s decision to replace The Morning Mix with The Uprising.

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