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 Change.org 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.

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National Lawyers Guild Letter to KPFA On The Morning Mix

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REMOVAL OF MORNING MIX FROM DRIVE TIME PROGRAMMING

The recent removal of the Morning Mix radio program from the 8:00 AM time slot on KPFA has raised some concern at the San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (“Guild”). We write this letter because KPFA and its free speech mission, are important to the Guild and to many activists that either work with, or are represented by, Guild members.

The Guild views KPFA not as simply another movement organization, but as a key part of the information commons. In that sense, KPFA is similar to a public utility — it is for the public benefit. KPFA policies on openness and actions regarding access to its airwaves affect all of us striving for a better world.

Like KPFA and Pacifica, the Guild was created with a particular mission: it was founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association’s exclusionary practices and political orientation, and the Guild was the first integrated bar association. KPFA was launched in 1949, three years after pacifist Lew Hill created Pacifica. The aim of the station has always been to promote cultural diversity, to promote pluralistic cultural expression,  to contribute to a lasting understanding among diverse constituents, to maintain freedom of the press, and to create a forum for various viewpoints.

At KPFA’s core is the concept of pacifism or non-violence. Non-violence is often mistaken for being simply the absence of, or opposite of, violence. Instead nonviolence is a systematic framework of both conceptual principles and pragmatic strategies to reduce harm and promote positive peace at the personal, community, national and global levels. Contrary to popular belief, non-violence requires boldness and courage. Moreover, it is easy to fall astray from the path of non-violence in the pursuit of financial stability or in response to political pressure.

With this framework and history in mind, we raise our concerns about an uncomfortable pattern of events that have transpired at KPFA that appear to be the antithesis of non-violence. We do not list these concerns to cast blame, or to impose our set of values on another organization. We list these concerns because our collective silence could be perceived as approval or consent. We consider individuals and organizations on both sides of this debate as both friends and allies. It is in the spirit of a friend and ally that we speak about the recent decisions at KPFA, and seek to build trust through transparency.

The Morning Mix was unique within the KPFA lineup because it was hosted by a diverse group of community volunteers with programming important to community members. The Morning Mix often reported on local political movements that were under-reported elsewhere. One such issue is tar sand extraction and transportation by rail to refineries. Andres Soto, one of the hosts of the Morning Mix, and a Richmond resident and activist, often reported on this issue. He frequently reported on Chevron’s efforts to refine tar sands in Richmond which will have a direct impact on the people of Richmond and surrounding communities. Across the nation, we see a growing movement on this issue, and the Guild has recently received reports of brutal arrests of people who oppose tar sands. Instead of supporting this excellent reporting done by Andres Soto on this issue, KPFA has essentially silenced him by eliminating the prime time Morning Mix program. It is doubtful that the new paid host from LA will report on local efforts to oppose refining tar sands in the same way.

We could go through other hosts and programs on the Morning Mix, and discuss how each is connected to a local community and movement, however the point is that KPFA’s actions have actually decreased the diversity of speech on its airwaves.

As a community-based radio station dedicated to pluralistic expression, it would seem that KPFA would wish to avoid even the appearance of decreasing diversity, or of favoritism, or of bias. Gentrification of a neighborhood transforms it by displacing local residents, which in turn erases local character. Defenders of gentrification support the transformation, claiming that it increases public safety. Some at KPFA have described the removal of the Morning Mix as a ” move towards professionalism”. However we fear that “professionalism”, like “public safety” is pretext. The unqie character of the Morning Mix came from its local voices, accents, topics and perspectives. KPFA erased this local character with a single paid host out of LA.

Another reason put forth by by KPFA management is that the LA program will allegedly bring in more revenue. Although people can and do argue about interpretation of financial figures, the financial documents produced at the KPFA Local Station Board show that the Morning Mix was pulling is weight during fund drive. Thus, KPFA’s reliance on a specific interpretation of its financial figures, when there are other valid interpretations,  is a factor that creates the appearance of viewpoint bias. For example, the KPFA financial documents do not take into account the expenses incrred by having paid hosts. Thus, the financials purport to measure programs in terms of revenue generated, and disregard specific costs incurred by having paid hosts.

Moreover, and this point cannot be emphasized too much, KPFA can not and must not base all of its programming decisions on finance alone.

Although this letter was prompted by the removal of the Morning Mix, in the course of drafting this letter, we have learned of complaints that KPFA management has silenced specifically black programmers and/or failed to provide support for critical black programming or programming on critical local issues relevant to black communities. We are concerned that the removal of the Morning Mix, a show frequently hosted by black local hosts, is part of this pattern. We understand that KPFA is filling the Morning Mix time slot with a show hosted by a person of color, however the show is not produced locally, and does not have as close a connection to Bay Area black communities, and that features voices of black programmers, and not assume that programming by or for people of color generally will necessarily cover these issues.

KPFA, as part of its mission, must be ever vigilant of protecting diversity of viewpoints. Removal of the Morning Mix has narrowed the range of speech on its airwaves.

KPFA appears to promote radio programs that would prefer to talk about global economics, rather than race and the local displacement of black and immigrant families. It is an agenda that appears it would rather talk about gender discrimination in the boardroom, but not talk about the impact of gender, race and poverty on the young girls caught up in sex trafficking on Bay Area streets. It is an agenda that appears it would rather solve problems abroad, rather than those at home.

The Guild is an organization dedicated to human rights over property rights, and our collective conscious is touched when KPFA – a radio station dedicated to promoting diversity – consciously or unconsciously engages in viewpoint suppression. The allegations may be uncomfortable, however we in the Guild believe that it is through transparency and discussion of diverse viewpoints that this situation can be resolved.

In solidarity,

Sharon Adams, Vice President

National Lawyers Guild, Bay Area Chapter

August 12, 2014

NLG letter re Mix & KPFA

 

 

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Green Party of Alameda County Signs on to SF Green Party Statement to “Report Locally”

 

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The Green Party of Alameda joins the San Francisco Labor Councilthe Gray Panthers,ILWU Local 10East Bay Veterans for Peace,Sonoma County Veterans for PeaceILWU Local 10the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, the San Francisco Green Party and the Golden Gate Letter Carriers in calling for restoration of the KPFA Morning Mix to its 8 am weekday hour.

“Think globally, act locally” is as relevant today as it was in 1915, when Scots biologist, sociologist, and town planner Patrick Geddes wrote Cities in Evolution.  “We need locally produced, locally relevant programming to help us make specific connections between our daily lives and politics and those of the international community and the planet.”

We find it difficult to understand why you replaced The Morning Mix with syndicated programming produced in Los Angeles, because locally produced programming about politics, art, culture, and the environment in a station’s fm signal area is the heart of community radio. We need to understand the realpolitik immediately around us, in the San Francisco Bay Area, not just in Iraq, the Ukraine, Nigeria, Los Angeles, or the distant chambers of Washington D.C. or the United Nations.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the movement towards community-based and/or regional renewable power infrastructure has reached a critical stage. We need to understand every step forward or backwards as this story unfolds on the ground, in our City Council and County Board of Supervisors offices, in public agencies and at public gatherings. San Franciscans need to know what is happening in the City of Richmond, in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties, and in East Bay and South Bay counties where citizens are attempting create renewable energy infrastructure.

Despite a California State mandate to produce at least 20% renewable power by 2010, PG&E is still producing only 19%, four years later, and doing whatever it can to stop Bay Area communities from creating clean energy buyers’ co-ops, or banding together as one and eliminating its dirty energy monopoly. PG&E strategists may have been most successful at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, where they have used the San Francisco Mayor’s office – which they traditionally control – to block the implementation of our renewable power plan Clean EnergySF for two years, even after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimous vote for it.

PG&E has also been able to activate its union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 1245, to oppose CleanPowerSF; this calls for the attention of a local labor reporter like Morning Mix host Steve Seltzer.

Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar lives within Southern California Edison’s monopoly and cannot possibly cover this as our local hosts can. We need diverse voices of hosts and reporters in touch with those on the ground, not the lone voice of Brian Edwards-Tiekert and/or his pinch hitter, Marie Choi, much as we appreciate the addition of Marie’s voice to the morning hours.

This is not a “narrowly focused, local issue,” as KPFA Interim General Manager Richard Pirodsky suggested the Morning Mix hosts had typically covered. in his parting lecture to the KPFA Local Station Board. We’re thinking globally and acting locally, for the survival of the planet and a sustainable peace rather than never-ending dirty energy wars. The same can be said of efforts to create municipal and regional mass transportation networks,local agriculture, just criminal justice, and other central elements of sustainable culture.

Every municipality in the Bay Area struggles with criminal justice issues including racial profiling, police brutality, police accountability, whether or not to arm police officers with tasers, whether to allow stop’n frisk, whether to allow Police Departments to report juveniles to immigration authorities, and police shootings of minority youth like Oscar Grant, Alan Blueford, Alex Nieto, and Andy Lopez. These police issues are all part of a national discussion, but local decisions determining how they play out here are made at multiple local levels every day. .

What does an LA or New York broadcast host know about the San Francisco Re-entry Council, which created a model for re-integrating ex-offenders that is now studied nationally? What do they know about former San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey, current Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, and Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s groundbreaking work in rehabilitation and re-entry?

How much can they know about Oakland’s infamous police corruption or the Oakland Domain Surveillance Center proposed barely a year after Occupy Oakland grabbed the national and international stage?

How much can they know about the Richmond Progressive Alliance and Contra Costa County’s struggles with the Chevron refinery, crude-by-rail shipments, and expanding oil infrastructure?

Citizens are working to stop potentially explosive crude-by-rail shipments from the Bakken Shale all over the U.S. and Canada, but shouldn’t we be specifically informed about the crude-by-rail shipments threatening our own communities here? If not for KPFA Morning Mix host Andrés Soto and the Richmond Progressive Alliance, many residents of the Bay Area might not even realize that crude-by-rail shipments now threaten their own communities, not just Contra Costa County’s.

This may not be of concern to KPFA’s wealthier subscribers who never have and never will have to live next to an oil refinery, a crude-by-rail transit line, an oil storage tank, or any of the radioactive and otherwise toxic sites that the U.S. Navy abandoned all around San Francisco Bay. They may never have to face any number of other injustices in their daily lives, but if KPFA is to foster real community within the fm signal area it claims to serve, in accordance with its mission, it must consider these injustices to some as injustices to all. It must not exclude them from the station’s early morning hours.

On July 12, 2014, the Green Party of Alameda signed on this statement.

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August 2nd Community Town Hall

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“National Live-Stream Community Town Hall Forum About Pacifica Radio: “Community Radio, Morning Mix, & Pacifica”

Featuring Morning Mix hosts, Community Members, and Programmers from other Pacifica stations via Skype. 

Saturday, August 2 from 1:30 – 4 pm

Fellowship Hall 1924 Cedar Street, Berkeley, CA 94609. (At Bonita Ave, one block east of MLK Way & three blocks west of Shattuck Ave)
This location is wheelchair accessible via the ramp on the Bonita Avenue side of the building.

Sponsored by the Social Justice Committee of the BFUU and the Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.

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Veterans for Peace Sonoma County Supports the Morning Mix in Prime Time

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From Bill Simon, PhD
President, Veterans For Peace Chapter 71, Sonoma County
Statement: on KPFA

Sonoma County Veterans for Peace supports the continuation of the Morning Mix at KPFA in prime time hours.  The Morning Mix has been on KPFA at 8:00 A.M. for three and half years. They are men and women; black, white, and brown; and are gay and straight; radical scholars and labor activists; young, old, retirees, and  are all volunteers in service to the mission of KPFA.  We strongly support this type of community programming instead of a daily external show from LA.
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Harvey Milk Democratic Club Passes Resolution To Restore The Morning Mix

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On June 17th, San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Democratic Club adopted a resolution calling for the return of the Morning Mix to KPFA’s 8am time slot, Mondays to Fridays.

 

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