Beleaguered KPFK Workers Need Support in Election; Union Member Says, “Vote UCR”

BY ANTHONY FESTvote-661888_1280

NOVEMBER 30, 2015: KPFA subscribers have five more days to vote in the election for KPFA’s governing body, the Local Station Board.

Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is hearing multiple grievances from unionized staff members at KPFA’s Southern California sister station KPFK, grievances prompted by the actions of KPFK’s recently-appointed manager. The KPFK workers say management has violated their union contract, cut their hours, and failed to pay thousands of dollars in pension contributions and union dues.

Is there a connection?
Indeed there is, and KPFA voters should take heed:
Leslie Radford, the KPFK general manager responsible for the workers’ grievances and the widespread listener complaints, was appointed by none other than KPFA board member Margy Wilkinson. And Wilkinson is now running for re-election to the KPFA board.

What’s Going On?
KPFA and KPFK are two members of the five-station Pacifica Foundation network. Each of the five stations elects a Local Station Board; then the five local boards each send four members to the Pacifica National Board (PNB), the legal “board of directors” of Pacifica. The network and its stations are supposed to be overseen by a full-time Executive Director, hired by the PNB, but the current PNB seems unable to keep an ED on the job; two have departed after short stints in the post. In the absence of an ED, the Chair of the PNB is acting ED. It was in that role that PNB Chair Margy Wilkinson appointed Radford as manager of KPFK this past June. Incredibly, Wilkinson installed Radford in the KPFK job one day before a newly-hired ED began work. Evidently, Wilkinson didn’t want to leave the hiring of a station manager in the hands of someone with actual radio experience. And Radford’s apparent qualification for the general-manager job was being a member of the KPFK board faction that’s allied with Wilkinson’s “Save KPFA.”

In only four months on the job, Radford has so alienated KPFK workers and listeners that a no-confidence petition on has garnered 250 signatures. The signatories include listeners, present and former KPFK staff, former KPFA staff members Esther Manilla and John Hamilton, and Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar, whose program is heard on both stations. The no-confidence statement cites labor-contract violations, fundraising blunders, “disastrous programming decisions,” and other problems. It concludes, “ We believe Radford is a liability to KPFK and will lead the station to bankruptcy and/or numerous lawsuits until KPFK is no more.”
Some of the KPFK staff members have also created a Facebook page to publicize their issues; Facebook users can find it here.

Throw the Bum(s) Out?
Under Pacifica’s bylaws, the KPFK LSB could begin the process of firing Radford, although the ultimate authority is the Pacifica National Board. This month’s election could swing the balance of power on the local boards and thus the National Board. Therefore, KPFA voters should consider this advice from long-time KPFK staffer and union member Ali Lexa:

As a current SAG-AFTRA member, I can tell you the union busting at KPFK going on right now is real, and Margy Wilkinson is no friend of our union. If we don’t get the Pacifica National Board into better hands immediately, our station in LA which is the biggest non-commercial radio signal west of the Mississippi River and the most important free speech voice in Southern California, is done. So please vote UCR. It’s the pro-labor vote.

United-for-Community-Radio (UCR) is supporting a well-qualified team of nine candidates for the nine KPFA LSB seats to be filled by KPFA subscriber votes. The UCR team includes a union leader for home care workers (Marilla Argüelles), and a former organizer and shop steward (Don Macleay); they’re part of a diverse group of individuals advocating for peace and social justice.

To support both KPFA and KPFK, please vote for the nine UCR candidates! To be sure of meeting the voting deadline of Friday, December 4, KPFA subscribers should vote online using the access codes that came with their paper ballots.

UCR Candidates In The News



Jeremy Miller spoke against  Urban Shield at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and is also one of the hosts of Heterotopia music program on Mutiny Radio, located at 87.9 FM in San Francisco.


Sharon Adams at Berkeley City Council

Sharon Adams at Berkeley City Council


Sharon Adams spoke against Urban Shield at the Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center, and spoke at the Berkeley City Council in support of Berkeley’s status as a Sanctuary City, and in opposition to proposed federal legislation attacking Sanctuary Cities across the United States.




Tom Vohrees is active in a community radio start up coalition, Radio for People (R4P). Tom has been seen putting up radio transmitters for low-power radio stations all over the West, from Moscow Idaho, to helping get KFFR on air in Colorado.

Don Macleay

Don Macleay


Don Macleay is writing a memoir of his work in Nicauagua during the 80s, which is taking some time away from writing on his blog.   He continues his work with as a Green Party activist, and  his decades-long commitment to supporting and volunteering in the local community.  He recently volunteered at the East Bay Innovation Academy on the Thurgood Marshall campus in Oakland, giving a class in  bike maintenance.


Mario Fernandez is active in many campaigns, currently phone banking with the San Mateo Labor Council, and active in the Bernie Sanders campaign. He is also involved in Occupy Oakland and BlackLivesMatters movements.


Virginia Browning is currently serving on the KPFA Local Station Board and on several national committees of the Pacifica Foundation. To learn more about Virginia’s life-long love of radio, click here.


Janet Kobren, one of the founding members of the Northern California 9-11 Truth Alliance, plugged the importance of KPFA, her UCR LSB candidacy (and the UCR 9) when she introduced one of the videos during the 9-hour 9-11 Truth Film Festival held on September 10 at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland.  Janet Kobren is currently serving on the KPFA Local Station Board, and also on the Pacifica National Board, representing UCR interests as an officer on the Pacifica Foundation.



Scott Olsen continues his work with Iraq Veterans Against the WarIraq Veterans Against the War, and tweets about militarization of the police and in support of strong communities.


T.M Scruggs is an anthromusicologist and musician.  His primary research focus is on the use of music to construct social identity in the Americas, with a geographical specialty in Latin America and the Caribbean.   He collaborated with Project Censored to share some of the best-known labor and revolutionary ballads on May Day 2015.


Marilla Arguelles recently attended a Single-Payer Health Care conference.


UCR Supporter Diana Bohn Explains Why “Save KPFA” Can’t Be Trusted

By: Diana Bohn

Diana Bohn at UCR Garden Party/Fundraiser August 9, 2015

Diana Bohn at UCR Garden Party/Fundraiser
August 9, 2015


KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) elections are coming up soon.  I’m a proud supporter of the candidates running on the United for Community Radio (UCR) slate. UCR has a great platform, and a strong candidate lineup. In fact, I support UCR so much that I have been working to help UCR candidates win in the upcoming election. As shown in the photo to the left, I volunteered at the recent UCR Garden Party/Fundraiser.

Imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that my name is listed as an “Endorser” of the opposition, Save KPFA (SK).

As shown in this screen shot from the opposition’s list of endorsers, taken on August 13, 2015, my name is listed as a “Listener Endorser” of SK:


This caused me to look at other so-called “endorsers” of SK, where I learned that at least one of these so-called endorsers, singer Jon Fromer had actually passed away back in 2013. I’m not sure how many other “endorsers” of SK are incorrectly listed, as I was.

Lesson learned: take everything you read on the SK website with a grain of salt.

I’m trusting UCR candidates in this election, and voting for all of the UCR candidates: Scott Olsen, Sharon Adams, Don Macleay, Virginia Browning, Jeremy Miller, Janet Kobren, Mario Fernandez, T.M. Scruggs, and Marilla Arguelles.

You can learn more about the UCR candidates on the UCR website:

Don Macleay

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.


“Meet Candidates” Garden Party


Please join us for our




SUNDAY, AUGUST 9th, 3 pm – 7 pm










Donation: $4 – $400 or more and everyone is welcome to bring food, beverages and music to share

for the 2015 KPFA LSB ELECTION

From: Flickr - nekonomania (6)

From: Flickr – nekonomania (6)

·       Don Macleay – 5 years working for the Sandinistas, 19-year school volunteer, Green Party activist, former union organizer and shop steward Oakland 
·       (G.) Mario Fernandez – recent SF State political psychology graduate, former Napa Community College Student Body President, former Occupy Oakland volunteer 
·       Janet Kobren – current LSB member, Pacifica National Board Director, PNB Secretary (Pacifica Foundation officer), 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla survivor 
·       Jeremy Miller – Idriss Stelley Foundation program director, San Francisco No-Taser Task Force member, host of Heterotopia on Mutiny Radio, independent journalist with S.F. Bayview newspaper
·       Marilla Arguelles – former President of home care workers’ chapter, SEIU, Local 616, editor of “Extracts from Pelican Bay”, former KPFA Labor Collective member
·       Scott Olsen – Board member, Iraq Veterans Against the War, survivor of police raid on Occupy

·       Sharon Adams – attorney; immediate past vice-president of the National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter; was instrumental in getting Berkeley to refuse to hold people in Berkeley jails for civil ICE detentions.

T.M. Scruggs

T.M. Scruggs

·       T. M. Scruggs – Executive Producer at; ethnomusicologist; Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa; volunteer for community radio stations in U.S., Nicaragua and Venezuela


·      Virginia Browning – current LSB member, health care researcher, down-winder, and longtime KPFA activist  

·       Anthony Fest (Staff) – Producer and host, KPFA’s “Weekend News.”  Producer of “Project Censored Show,”  “Afternoons with Andres Soto,” and  “Poor News Network.”

United For Community Radio also supports:

·       Richard Hart – former natural foods store owner, Berkeley progressive activist, longtime WBAI member
·        Tom Voorhees – early-on KPFA volunteer transmitter engineer; 2014 volunteer of the year, National Federation of Community Broadcasters

Garden party photo via photopin (license)

Is This Really What The Majority of Members Want?

A blog post by local activist Don Macleay


I know it has been said here before, but I want to repeat the point.

We have spent this week in Oakland seeing helicopters over head with protests every day to demand that black lives matter.

As these things went on, tuning into KPFA was to listen to a radio station that could not be bothered to interrupt their regular programing to cover the protests in our community, one of which literally went past their doors.

Most of the time we had one talking head selling some guys book, an investigative reporter talking to his friends and some guys dishing out music that people stopped listening to a long time ago.

Today the Emergency Alert System has turned on twice to talk about the rain storm that has closed the local school because there are flash flood warnings and we are being asked not to drive anywhere for a few hours.

So do you think we could interrupt Amy Goodman in Peru hanging out with the NGO road show being ignored by the national governments of the world to provide local news? NO WAY. But we did get Brian Edwards-Tiekert to cut in to talk about how we in the “soggy” bay area are privileged to get a different take on his fund drive. They are going to interrupt only a few moments at a time instead of a 20 minute rant. He is calling Democracy Now the critical breaking news and leading edge that we will get right back to as we help him make his $800 matching fund.

So this is two ways in one week that our community radio station has shown that the community is not their priority. Not only will my wife not contribute to it, she won’t even listen to it any more.

So we have book interviews and political tourism instead of putting our local protests and well being first?

Is this really what the majority of members want?