KPFA: Radio Programs for the Community and Social Change, or for SaveKPFA’s Staff Allies and Their Jobs?

KPFA clock in orangeRecently KPFA/Pacifica management abruptly cancelled the Morning Mix (MIX), 8-9 a.m. M-F, and replaced it with Uprisings, a program produced in Los Angeles by a person who lives in Los Angeles. The MIX was five (5) separate programs, primarily focused on politics in local communities, workplaces, and unions. They were produced by several volunteer programmers who live, work and are politically active in the Bay Area.

This radical departure away from community based programming in the 8-9 a.m. prime time slot appears to be another consolidation of power by the SaveKPFA political faction. SaveKPFA with their long time ally, Justice and Unity at WBAI and allies at the other Pacifica stations, recently gained a narrow majority on the Pacifica National Board (PNB).

For a historical look at their destructive alliance see Pacifica Financial Crisis: Who is Responsible? Tyranny of the majority has been a mainstay of SaveKPFA’s MO. Abruptly taking away the 8-9 a.m. prime time from several community programmers, none of who are SaveKPFA allies, and replacing all of them with a program produced by one of their allies in LA is just the latest example. No poll was taken of the listeners’ desires. No public discussions of this major change were held and there was no discussion of this change at a full staff meeting. Another stark example of SaveKPFA’s tyranny of the majority is discussed in Without Due Process. This article exposes SaveKPFA’s current Pacifica National Board Chair, Margy Wilkinson‘s willingness to blatantly disregard the truth to push their unprincipled politics, denying due process to punish an opponent.  She may become the new Interim Executive Director.

Since the mid-1990s there has been a constant attempt by a small group of paid staff and some unpaid staff allies to control the allocation of air time and paid jobs to the benefit of their political friends and allies, regardless of the cost to KPFA and often in derogation of the Pacifica Mission. When the Pacifica management moved the station toward an NPR sound in the mid-1990s this paid staff group and their allies sat quietly watching as over 100 community programmers were taken off the air. Seven Long Years by Maria Gilardin is a history of these events covering 1992 to 1999.

In 1999 the struggle with Pacifica management went into the streets and then into the courts after a leaked document exposed the plans to sell a station. Out came new Bylaws with a democratic process for the governance of Pacifica and its stations. The SaveKPFA group, formally Concerned Listeners and KPFA Forward and often referred to as the “entrenched staff” (SK/CL), prior to the Wellstone Democratic Club joining with them, have done their best to dismantle the democratic process when they can’t control it.

Not everyone that fought against the “hijackers,” Pacifica management in 1999, did it for the same reason. Most listeners and community activists and some staff, paid and unpaid, fought for a democratic governance that allowed listener input. The entrenched staff fought the “hijackers” to be able to impose their own patronage and cronyism control at KPFA.  Ten Years after 1999 Hijack Attempt documents several of their moves to consolidate control for their group from 2003-2009.Today in Radical History

SaveKPFA is willing to dismantle the democratic governance, not refine it, if they can’t control it. An internal email from Brian Edwards-Tiekert to the strategy group for the entrenched staff was found at the station and it exposed their true feeling about the struggles at KPFA and Pacifica. You will find this email and a discussion about how their selfish politics have hurt KPFA/Pacifica in an article titled, ‘Me First’ Politics and Financial Responsibility.

The majority of the programming is done by unpaid staff, like the MIX producers. The small group of paid staff that works with SaveKPFA to maintain control takes advantage of all the volunteer labor to support their paid positions. The article KPFA’s Working Majority Gets Screwed by CWA Job Trust reviews their practices from a labor perspective.

In 2003 after the US invaded Iraq there was no question that Democracy Now! (DN!) was the most popular/listened to program on the air.  However, it was not given prime time status since prime time, 7-9 am, was reserved for the “entrenched “produced Morning Show. It is long established radio knowledge that you put your most popular program in prime time to increase your audience when the most people are listening. During 2003 KPFA had a Program Council. After continued attempts by the “entrenched” to stop a discussion of a DN! time change to prime time, it finally got on the agenda. The program council voted to move DN! to prime time.

The issue was taken up by the newly-elected Local Station Board (LSB). At a meeting in April 2004 the DN! time change to prime time was on the agenda and the “entrenched” and their allies on the LSB stalled the meeting until it ran out of time before getting to the DN! time change motion. Sarv Randhawa, an “entrenched” ally continually made amendments to the motion after each one was voted down. You could see Sarv writing down each new amendment as the previous one was being voted down. Many of us always wondered about Sarv’s politics and our concerns were reinforced when he appeared on TV at Republican fundraisers for the 2012 election. At the May 2004 meeting of the LSB, the motion to move DN! to prime time was thoroughly debated and passed. As in April the room was packed with listeners, the overwhelming majority in favor of the DN! move to prime time. The time change was not instituted since the Interim Station manager, an entrenched ally, refused to make the move.

Roy Campanella Jr

Roy Campanella Jr

With a slim majority the SK/CL selected Roy Campanella Jr. to be the new permanent station manager. His tenure was going along so so until he announced that he was going move DN! to prime time in the spring of 2005. Roy had worked in media and understood how important it was to put your best/most listened to program in prime time. The proverbial shit hit the fan!

All of a sudden there were flyers up around the station demonizing Roy. Claims that he was sexually harassing staff appeared. There were two investigations of these claims; one by an Human Resources expert and one by the LSB who hired Dan Siegel to do the investigation. As an LSB member, I suggested a woman professional investigator who had a PhD in criminology and who was not on any side in the dispute. I felt that the alleged women victims would be able to talk more openly to a woman investigator, but the SK/CL folks wanted their man, Dan Siegel, on the job. Both investigators found no evidence of sexual harassment.

The LSB voted 15-5 against firing Roy. The entrenched staff message was clear: mess with “our program schedule” and you will regret it. After all the turmoil created by the unfounded accusations and the posting of demonizing flyers around the station Roy left as station manager and LemLem Rigio was appointed interim station manager. She was one of the recipients of Brian Edwards-Tiekert’s 2005 email discussed and linked to above.

SaveKPFA and their allies have used their power over the program schedule to punish those at the station that don’t go along with their desires to maintain control. At an LSB meeting discussing the hiring process for a new station manager in 2007 a couple of women who work on the Women’s Magazine program, the only program specifically for women’s issues, suggested during public comment that qualified women candidates should be given consideration and at the same time they stated that they didn’t think the current interim station manager, Lemlem Rigio, a SaveKPFA/Concerned Listener ally, should be promoted to permanent manager.

Recent Women's Magazine guest, radical queer writer & activist, Yasmin Nair

Recent Women’s Magazine guest, radical queer writer & activist, Yasmin Nair

Not too long after that meeting a new pilot program produced by a SaveKPFA ally was put on the air for a test run. It was given the Women’s Magazine time slot for several weeks before it was given a Monday – Friday one hour time and the Women’s Magazine was allowed back on the air. It should be noted that when this was done there were 30+ music programs on the air and only ONE program covering women’s issues. The message was again quite clear; don’t speak out against any of the control group’s plans for control or you will pay. But for the numerous complaints that came in when their program was abruptly replaced, it is quite possible the Women’s Magazine would have been kept off the air. So much for KPFA being a “Free Speech” radio station, at least internally.

Based on the generous donations during 2003 after Iraq was invaded based on lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction, the entrenched increased the paid staff by 50%, mostly with their friends and allies. The payroll went from 28 to 42 full time equivalents. Many of us in the minority on the LSB constantly suggested that we needed to cut down the payroll. KPFA’s payroll was the largest in Pacifica. Our pleas were ignored despite reduced revenue and lower membership numbers each year until the crisis got very serious and layoffs were necessary. The SaveKPFA folks and their staff allies consistently accused us of being anti-union for wanting to have layoffs if necessary for fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget.

During an LSB meeting discussing the budget in the Fall of 2010, Shahram Aghamir made a motion to have the budget coordinated with the union contract if any layoffs were required. This would mean that layoffs would be done by seniority, unless there were exceptional circumstances. The SaveKPFA response was a major surprise given their constant anti-union charges against all their political opponents for almost any criticism. The SaveKPFA LSB members ALL voted NO! They obviously didn’t want to follow the union contract seniority rules. They wanted to control any necessary layoffs in the same patronage and cronyism manner that they have ran the station for years. More information on their duplicitous pro-union rhetoric can be found in this article, Playing the Union Card.

Prior to getting involved in KPFA and Pacifica I worked in commercial radio, AM and FM, doing music programs, public affairs and some news casts. One of the many things about radio that I learned in those 5+ years was that cross promoting helps build your audience. When I became involved with KPFA I encouraged consistent cross promoting to build our audience and create more loyalty. What the SaveKPFA folks have done at the station I would call sectarian cross referring. During the entire time of the MIX I never heard Brian Edwards-Tiekert or any of their allies mention the MIX other than to say when his program ended the MIX is next. Always when he was pitching during DN! from 6-7 he would promote his upcoming 7 am show and never mention the MIX at 8 am.broken Transmitter tower

SaveKPFA’s sectarian practices take other forms such as how the Evening News, SaveKPFA allies, report on LSB elections. They only interview folks from their slate. When I was Chair of the LSB and brought back to life the monthly LSB Report to Listeners, I would always invite people from their side to be on the program and give them equal time to state their positions on any issues before the LSB or station. When they took over the majority and producing the LSB Report program they didn’t always do a monthly LSB Report and generally when they did it was tightly controlled as to who would be on and who got to speak, almost exclusively their allies.

Their practices don’t square with the KPFA Mission which is to allow the expression of minority opinions in our society to be aired, especially the ones that those in power don’t want the people to hear. From all my experiences at KPFA, I must conclude that the SaveKPFA folks have run and want to run KPFA and Pacifica with the same anti-democratic methods that our ruling class uses: Win power by controlling the information the masses receive; preach democratic principles and practice tyranny of the majority and deny due process to your opponents whenever possible.

…the SaveKPFA folks have run and want to run KPFA and Pacifica with the same anti-democratic methods that our ruling class uses: Win power by controlling the information the masses receive; preach democratic principles and practice tyranny of the majority and deny due process to your opponents whenever possible.

KPFA and Pacifica are in deep financial trouble, primarily due to sectarian practices by SaveKPFA and their allies at other stations, always putting their power, control, jobs and airtime, over and above the health and survival of KPFA and Pacifica. During these tenuous times please ignore their rhetoric and judge them by their consistent unprincipled actions, detailed above, that are always designed for their benefit and most often to the detriment of the Pacifica Mission and progressive movements.

These neo-progressives, folks that espouse progressive politics but practice like Karl Rove, (winning power is Rove’s only principle), must not be allowed to destroy KPFA and Pacifica. Taking off the Morning Mix and replacing it with a program by one of SK/CL’s Los Angeles allies is just their latest attack on the Pacifica Mission and the need for progressive community radio that is responsive to the day-to-day struggles of people in the Bay Area who are fighting for social and economic justice every day.

Demand that the Morning Mix be put back on the air and if there is a LSB election; please do not vote for any SaveKPFA candidates.

Richard Phelps, KPFA LSB Chair 2005-2006. The history I present herein from 2003 on is based on my own direct involvement. 

Feel free to forward this article.

Richard Phelps
Attorney/Mediator
Member, California Academy of Distinguished Neutrals
405 14th Street, Suite 511
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 268-9919, Fax (510) 268-0368
PhelpsMediation@aol.com
PhelpsMediation.com

6-17-14

Richmond Progressive Alliance Supports Morning Mix

Richmond progressive Alliance

 

The Richmond Progressive Alliance has voted to express its support for keeping the Morning Mix in the Drive Time at 8 am on KPFA.  Their decision was announced by Marilyn Langlois at a meeting of KPFA’s local station board on June 14, 2014.

In part, Marilyn said,

We find this is a really excellent program that projects a lot of voices from the community on topics of general issues both in Richmond and throughout the bay area.    We’ve had great feedback from our local residents as well as activists all over the bay area.  In particular, Andres Soto’s show which . . . covers not only Richmond issues (which, let’s face it, Richmond is currently on the cutting edge of progressive initiatives in the bay area and many people are interested in that) but he also covers issues of housing, violence prevention, environmental justice, Native American rights, racial issues, immigrant rights — and international issues too with really interesting guests from Haiti, El Salvador, Cuba and many places . . We think people in our listening area need to hear these voices from our community.

Here is their letter

Re:  Request to re-instate The Morning Mix weekdays from 8:00 – 9:00 am

Dear Mr. Pirodsky,

The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) is a grassroots, volunteer-based organization founded in 2003 in Richmond, California, aimed at eliminating the excessive influence of corporations in local politics and strengthening the ability of local residents to ensure that city policies meet their needs, especially the needs of the most vulnerable.   Our organization clearly has much in common with the values of KPFA and Pacifica.

We appreciated the introduction of the weekday 8:00-9:00 program, The Morning Mix, a few years ago, as it has provided the listening audience in Richmond and the greater Bay Area with a variety of excellent programs on topics of interest that are rarely, if ever, heard elsewhere.  Andres Soto’s program, for example, has included many segments on progressive initiatives in Richmond that communities throughout the region can relate to, on housing, violence prevention, environmental justice, local arts scene and more.

The RPA learned, to our dismay, that you had made the decision last month to cancel The Morning Mix and re-schedule some of its programs to shorter time slots in the mid-afternoon.  We believe it is extremely valuable for the morning drive time audience to be able to hear the diversity of programming that The Morning Mix offered, and hence we urge you to reverse your decision and re-instate The Morning Mix to weekdays at 8:00–9:00 am.

Sincerely,
Marilyn Langlois
Mike Parker
Co-coordinators, Richmond Progressive Alliance
1021 Macdonald Ave.
Richmond, CA  94801

 

East Bay Veterans for Peace Says Restore The Morning Mix

On Saturday, June 14, 2014, VETERANS FOR PEACE East Bay Chapter 
#162(VFP-EB#162) voted to endorse the below petition for the Morning 
Mix and local programming, and also the same time voted to 
co-sign/co-endorse the SF Labor Council Resolution (of June 9) calling 
for the reinstatement of the Morning Mix to drive-time at KPFA.

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BELOW IS THE PETITION ENDORSED BY VFP-EB#162

Support local community activist programming
at Pacifica and KPFA

We oppose the displacement of the 8:00 AM Morning Mix show on KPFA 
with a network show “Uprising” hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar from LA. A 
new small majority of the Pacifica board of directors are replacing 
local community “activist oriented” programs with what they perceive 
as higher value national programming. We believe that the need for 
local community and labor programming in prime-time is a key factor in 
building support locally and regionally for KPFA and all Pacifica 
Stations. We strongly urge the KPFA Interim General Manager Richard 
Pirodsky, Pacifica Executive Director Bernard Duncan, Pacifica Board 
Chair Margy Wilkinson and the Board of Directors to respect and 
support the needs of the listeners in protecting and advancing local 
community programming throughout the network.

Golden Gate Branch of the Letter Carriers Union Says Bring Back The Morning Mix

Golden Gate Branch 214 of the Letter Carriers Union adopted this resolution:

Reinstate the “Morning Mix” drive-time radio show –

Say No to Cuts in Labor/Community Programming on KPFA Radio

Whereas, KPFA Radio 94.1 FM, with a powerful radio transmitter, has been a megaphone for community free speech radio throughout northern California for over 65 years, and is the flagship station of the Pacifica Radio Network; and

Whereas, for the last 3 and a half years KPFA has aired a ground-breaking labor and community program called the Morning Mix – broadcasting at a time when more working people could hear it, during “drive time” from 8 to 9 AM, Monday to Friday; and

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Whereas, the rotating hosts of the Morning Mix radio shows on KPFA have featured the voices of Bay Area working people and their issues, to a degree not found on any other Northern California station with the reach and power of KPFA. This included regular reporting on labor and community struggles – about the postal workers’ fight against privatization; the concerns of teachers, dockworkers, transit and healthcare workers, and immigrant workers; as well as the community fight in the city of Richmond against toxic pollution by Chevron Corporation; and

Whereas, the Morning Mix provided regular announcements of Bay Area labor and community events, so working people could be aware of these activities and participate; and

Whereas, late in the evening on May 21, KPFA and Pacifica management abruptly, and without proper consultations, cancelled the Morning Mix and replaced it with a syndicated program “Uprising” produced in Los Angeles that does not cover Bay Area issues and events; and

Whereas, we need more local labor and community programming on KFPA radio, not less – especially since working peoples’ stories are almost completely ignored by the mainstream media. This program change is a tremendous loss for the radio listeners in the Bay Area.

Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council calls on KPFA/Pacifica management to reinstate the Morning Mix drive-time radio show. We need more labor and community programs on the radio – not less!

And be it further resolved, that this resolution be submitted to other Bay Area labor councils for concurrence and action.

ILWU Local 10 – Executive Board – Supports SF Labor Council Resolution to Bring Back The Morning Mix

The executive committee of ILWU Local 10 adopted this resolution:

Reinstate the “Morning Mix” drive-time radio show –

Say No to Cuts in Labor/Community Programming on KPFA Radio

Whereas, KPFA Radio 94.1 FM, with a powerful radio transmitter, has been a megaphone for community free speech radio throughout northern California for over 65 years, and is the flagship station of the Pacifica Radio Network; and

Whereas, for the last 3 and a half years KPFA has aired a ground-breaking labor and community program called the Morning Mix – broadcasting at a time when more working people could hear it, during “drive time” from 8 to 9 AM, Monday to Friday; and

download

Whereas, the rotating hosts of the Morning Mix radio shows on KPFA have featured the voices of Bay Area working people and their issues, to a degree not found on any other Northern California station with the reach and power of KPFA. This included regular reporting on labor and community struggles – about the postal workers’ fight against privatization; the concerns of teachers, dockworkers, transit and healthcare workers, and immigrant workers; as well as the community fight in the city of Richmond against toxic pollution by Chevron Corporation; and

Whereas, the Morning Mix provided regular announcements of Bay Area labor and community events, so working people could be aware of these activities and participate; and

Whereas, late in the evening on May 21, KPFA and Pacifica management abruptly, and without proper consultations, cancelled the Morning Mix and replaced it with a syndicated program “Uprising” produced in Los Angeles that does not cover Bay Area issues and events; and

Whereas, we need more local labor and community programming on KFPA radio, not less – especially since working peoples’ stories are almost completely ignored by the mainstream media. This program change is a tremendous loss for the radio listeners in the Bay Area.

Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council calls on KPFA/Pacifica management to reinstate the Morning Mix drive-time radio show. We need more labor and community programs on the radio – not less!

And be it further resolved, that this resolution be submitted to other Bay Area labor councils for concurrence and action.

Celebrate Community Radio: BBQ with Musical Performances June 22nd 2pm

                                           Celebrate Community Radio with KPFA Activists

                                              Save the Morning Mix! Support Local Programming

                              Cookout and Performances!
                                      Sunday, June 22nd  2 pm to 6 pm
                                 2022 Blake Street, Berkeley
                                $5 to $25 sliding scale

images (3)You are invited to a gathering of supporters of theMorning Mix, the unpaid staff, United for Community Radio and those who want to make sure that KPFA keeps thedoor open to local struggles and communities.

Spend an afternoon listening to music and chatting with other folkswho believe in free speech, local community-based radio.

We provide the hot dogs/ veggie dogs and chips.
Bring a dish or food to share.

Special Performances and Appearances by:

                             Carol Denny
                                  Andrea Prichett
                             Renee Asteria
                                             With Morning Mix Hosts and special guests!
                                                   And a Special Twit Wit Radio Skit!

                                                 Sunday June 22nd  2pm to 6pm
                                          2022 Blake Street    

                                                $5 to $ 25 sliding scale

                                          Bring your politically-minded friends and your enthusiasm for the best of KPFA’s programming.

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