Major Issues and Concerns Currently Facing Pacifica

Report of the Executive Director to the Pacifica National Board
by  Summer Reese
April 27, 2014

Discussion among some of those occupying the Pacifica Office. L to R, Geneva Reese, Cynthia Johnson, Summer Reese, Virginia Browning, & Daniel Borgstrum

Summer Reese in discussion with some of those occupying the Pacifica Office. L to R, Geneva Reese, Cynthia Johnson, Summer Reese, Virginia Browning, & Daniel Borgstrum

The following is my report on the status of major issues and concerns currently facing Pacifica Foundation Radio during the crisis that has been created by the actions of the board majority. The reckless and illegal actions of the majority have caused considerable concern to our many creditors, who are now uncertain about the organization’s stability and ability to meet its financial obligations over time. This has resulted in two collections actions being filed against the Foundation this month by creditors that were previously working with staff on payment of these liabilities. The lawsuit with which we have been served is from Robert Half, the temp

firm which has supplied us with some of our accounting staff. The other lawsuit is from FSRN and we have not yet been served in that action. When we are served, I will notify the board.

Additionally, the SAG-AFTRA unit in Washington, D.C. has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). On March 13, 2014, I flew to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Collective Bargaining Unit and the representatives of the union to address grievances and potential grievances generated by the conduct of the interim General Manager at WPFW. All matters were addressed on that day, a schedule of addressing concerns going forward was agreed to, and the union was not planning on filing any further grievances against the organization, much less complaints with the NLRB, which is a drastic escalation. Later, on the night of March 13, 2014, the board majority took its illegal vote to allegedly fire me, and the result has been that we are now facing major labor charges before the NLRB.

The audit work continues, despite the lack of cooperation from KPFA. The Business Manager of that unit has still failed to reconcile her books, but has finally agreed to release the underlying documents, such as bank statements, so that accounting staff in the National Office can reconcile that unit’s books. The request to that office to simply release the underlying documentation, if the BM [Business Manager] was unable to perform her job duties, was made two months ago, and if the records had just been released at that time, we would have been able to avoid the postponement of the audit.

Because of the delay in the audit work, it is unlikely that any CPB funds will be released this fiscal year, as the year will be nearly over before the organization’s audit and tax return are completed. The auditors are beginning field work at the National Office in May.

Last year’s fatally flawed 990 tax return, as prepared by the then CFO, Raul Salvador, has been amended and sent to me this week for final review and approval. I anticipate signing the amended return this week, so that we may file it with the IRS and the various states requiring our financial filings in order to solicit funds from the public in those states.

The rehired CFO, Raul Salvador, is currently on vacation in the Philippines.

WBAI continues to struggle financially and is facing catastrophic consequences if the financial situation at that unit is not rapidly addressed. The transmitter tower rent has not been paid for March or April, and the station is currently a quarter of a million dollars in arrears on operating expenses.

Both WBAI and WPFW were unable to meet their respective payroll obligations this week, as well as their healthcare obligations. KPFA and KPFK have had to supply approximately $85,000.00 to meet the funding shortfalls at the two East Coast stations, as well as the National Office, which continues not to receive Shared Services monies from those stations as budgeted.

Work on the audit, as well as day to day operations at the National Office continues relatively normally, despite the physical violence, interference and attempts to block access to the office by Margy Wilkinson and her supporters. We have been able to protect the employees, stop the attempted illegal lock-out of the staff and withstand assaults upon the operations, such as turning off the water so that staff could not use the legally required facilities of the bathroom, etc.

We have hired two temporary accounting staff to assist with the audit preparation, and despite the above attempted disruptions, all staff have been able to perform their normal duties and have been putting in incredible hours and effort to complete the audit, even with the delays caused by the lack of cooperation by a particular unit.

I was temporarily removed from payroll, but the issue appears to be resolved at this point, and should not necessitate a filing on my part with the Department of Industrial Relations.

Full compliance with the Communications Act by the five stations, as required for CPB funding, is still a struggle. WBAI and WPFW still have lapses in meeting notice postings, which will continue to adversely impact complete organizational compliance until fully resolved.

Old KPFA dialDuring this crisis, I continue to work with the legal counsel of The Office of The Inspector General of The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, supplying that department with financial, accounting, personnel, copyright and meeting notice records of the organization to facilitate their investigation of irregularities in those areas of the Foundation’s operations.

According to our FCC counsel, we may still apply for STA low power waivers for station KPFT. However, because we are in license renewal, other individuals or entities may object and contend that we are not using our full power for an extended period of time, and therefore should have our license downgraded to lower power. The FCC may then file an Order to Show Cause (OSC) against us, compelling us to answer as to why our license should not be downgraded. Because of this possible scenario, it is imperative to prioritize replacement of the KPFT transmitter.

Anticipating a return to normal business operations after a ruling of the court, I am promulgating an emergency operations plan to address our immediate cash shortfalls around the network, allowing for continuous operations, while reducing both operating expenses and accumulated debt. Because our business reputation has been significantly compromised by the actions of the board majority, it will be necessary to immediately instill a sense of confidence in our creditors, as well as the public, regarding our ability to continue operations and meet our financial obligations over the long term, as well as immediately. I believe it is possible to restore our public reputation, but only through decisive and bold action, clearly articulated in a business plan that can be supported by factual data and not wishful thinking.

I look forward to working with the board on the development and implementation of this plan, so that Pacifica not only survives the current crisis and the accumulated burden of years of debt and mismanagement of resources, but will thrive by a complete rebirth and return to the Mission of the organization and its service to the public.

Bringing Peace to KPFA

Aki Graphic

Underlying problems

Whenever there is a conflict, there is always an escalation in rhetoric, like when there was the inflammatory charge a few years ago that the Pacifica National Office was engaged in union busting. We should avoid getting caught up in the rhetoric and address the real problems and concerns.

One major area of friction is programming. It stands to reason that a trade union looking after the financial security of its members will prefer programming which appeals to a more affluent audience. But the mission of Pacifica is to be the commons of the airwaves, to represent a broader and more diverse community, to include marginalized and under-represented voices.

Programmers with established shows will understandably be protective of their airtime; however, Pacifica bylaws state that programming decisions and program evaluations should be done in a fair, collaborative and respectful manner (e.g. with a Program Council).

Another area of friction is the working relationship between paid and unpaid staff. Until 1996 both were represented by one “industrial” union. In 1996 this was changed to a “craft” union that no longer represented the unpaid staff. This created a class system resulting in an uneasy working relationship between the paid and unpaid staff.

Possible Solutions

So what to do with these conflicting needs and interests? How does a union look after the financial security of its members in a non-profit organization that relies on donations by listeners, does not make profits and must live within a balanced budget?

The primary task of the station should be to fulfill the mission of Pacifica. The management and union should carefully work out a staffing level that is sustainable over the economic ups and downs, and avoid the temptation to add more paid staff during the economic boom times as happened in 2001-2006.

Akio Tanaka

Akio Tanaka

The painful trauma of layoffs in 2010 is a consequence of having more than doubled the payroll (125% increase) between 2001 and 2010.

A sustainable paid staffing level would help address the main source of tension. It could curtail the seemingly endless appeal for funds. It could put a stop to the unseemly practice of measuring the value of a program by the amount of money it brings in – a sad and ironic state of affairs.

It is important to note that KPFA relies on a large number of unpaid staff; the majority of the programming is done by the unpaid staff. At KPFA there simply is not enough money to pay all those who contribute to the station. Progressive organizations like KPFA should have one all inclusive union for everyone who works at the station, or have in place a system to treat all workers fairly and equally.

The “Proud to be Union” banner at the station is unnecessarily divisive and should be taken down. While the notion of workers’ rights resonates to all within the progressive community, it must be remembered that it is to respect and honor ALL labor.

It is time for all the staff, paid and unpaid, and for listeners to embrace the democratic victory that was won for us in legal and street battles of 1999-2001. It is time to stop dividing the station.

by Akio Tanaka 03-15-14
[KPFA LSB Member 2006-2012]


13 Years of KPFA Finances


13 years of Finances Word doc
















1. Listener Support: There has been a claim that changes to programming in fall of 2010 resulted in sharp decline in Listener Support.
The audited financials show that steep decline in Listener Support occurred between 2006 and 2010, before the change.

2. Salary and Benefits: There has been a charge that the Pacifica National Office usurped local control and engaged in union busting.
The audited financials show that between 2001 and 2006, under local control, the station added way too many people (the payroll more than doubled), but between 2006 and 2010, under local control, the station did not address the steep decline in Listener Support. By the fall of 2010, the station was in danger of insolvency, which is the only reason that the Pacifica National Office stepped in, to bring expenses in line with income.

3. Central Services: There has been a claim that the Pacifica National Office takes too much money from KPFA and spends on excessive management salaries.
The audited financials show that the Central Services are pegged to Listener Support, so when the Listener Support declines the payments for Central Services decline. Pacifica has a very flat salary scale throughout the network, including the National Office. [Central Services pays for network administrative services like network license, insurance, legal fees, Pacifica archives, and programming like Democracy Now!]

By Akio Tanaka

2012 PLATFORM – United for Community Radio

United for Community Radio

       KPFA and Pacifica are a priceless resource.
We have the opportunity to be a force for change –
by amplifying the voices of the millions whose needs and desires, opinions and culture are overlooked, marginalized or silenced by the mainstream media.

1.    A Community Resource – To reclaim the mission of Pacifica and KPFA as a commons, with broad and diverse participation, and not to be controlled by any particular group or party.

2.  Both Station and Network – To maintain the integrity and financial viability of  KPFA and the Pacifica network – the national office, all five stations, the 180 affiliates, and the Archives. To develop a financial recovery and sustainability plan for KPFA to ensure its continued survival.

3.  Democratically Governed–To support governing boards that are elected by proportional representation, and that collaborate with, ensure accountability, and exercise oversight of station management.

4.  Program Council – To reactivate the Program Council, including representatives from the listener community and staff (unpaid and paid), to evaluate current and proposed programs.

5.  A Voice for Progressive Social Movements –To advocate for news, public affairs, music, arts and cultural programming that incorporate the voices of people’s movements and communities – including struggles for protection of human and labor rights, civil liberties and the environment; for social equality, self-determination of peoples, and freedom from imperialist domination and war. To balance the often difficult news with programming that is uplifting and facilitates human connections. We envision a vital and imaginative radio station that resonates with those reached by our signal.

6.  Mutual Respect– To recognize and respect the essential roles of unpaid and paid staff and apprentices, volunteers, management, and listeners. To foster cooperation and equal access to resources and training within the station, including the right to union representation, thus empowering both paid and unpaid staff to better fulfill Pacifica’s mission and potential. When major issues relating to Pacifica and KPFA are reported on the air, on the website, or at KPFA events, it should be in a fair and accurate manner.

7.  Listener Input – To ensure that the listeners have opportunities to  provide input  to  the station through various forms of feedback, including two annual, bylaws-mandated  Local Station Board (LSB)-hosted Town Hall meetings, regularly scheduled listener call-in shows and surveys.

8.  Web Presence – To improve KPFA’s web presence, including searchable archives by show and by subject, with links to background information and related stories. To work to integrate video, transcripts, live streaming and social media. This will help us to reach current and potential communities of listeners with KPFA’s unique content.

~labor donated~

 Posted by at 3:38 pm  Add comments

“The Crisis Was Insolvency”

We Can All Save KPFA Together

Local KPFA Station Board Member, Akio TanakaWe Can All Save KPFA Together

by Akio Tanaka

8-22-11     The crisis that KPFA faced in the fall of 2010 was insolvency.

Between 2001 and 2006, there was a dramatic increase in listener support due to the expanding economy and interest in the Iraq-Afghan War. KPFA added many paid staff during this same period; however, between 2007 and 2010 listener support declined dramatically as the whole economy crashed.

Payments to Pacifica were reduced to reflect the decline in listener support and Pacifica had major layoffs, but KPFA management did not make similar cuts to salaries and benefits even as listener support declined between 2007 and 2010. It is understandable that the previous management would be reluctant to lay people off, but in 2008 the station went into deficit spending and was in danger of bankruptcy. So, finally the Pacifica Foundation, which is fiscally responsible for the network of five stations, stepped in and made cuts in staffing.

Instead of acknowledging that Pacifica had carried out the thankless but necessary task of cutting expenses, some of the paid staff affiliated with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) claimed that layoffs were not necessary and that there had been union busting on the part of Pacifica. They alarmed many paid staff by claiming there was a political hit list of people to be laid off. The ‘hit list’ was the union seniority list.

What Pacifica actually did was to offer voluntary severance to all employees. Seven people took the deal, and in the end, two people were laid off, Aimee Allison and Brian Edwards-Tiekert. Edwards-Tiekert had the option to exercise his seniority bumping rights.

The layoffs followed the union contract which says: “In cases where skill, ability, knowledge and job performance are all equal, or could be equal in the opinion of the Employer after reasonable orientation and training, seniority shall prevail”, but CWA claimed the layoffs violated the terms of the union contract and filed three grievances with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and asked for an arbiter to rule on reinstating Edwards-Tiekert and Allison to the Morning Show. These claims led many labor supporters to voice solidarity with the CWA.

Over the next several months, two anonymous websites, SaveKPFA and KPFAworker, waged a campaign to vilify Pacifica Executive Director, Arlene Engelhardt.

In February, Edwards-Tiekert exercised his bumping rights and returned as a P/T news reporter. In April, the NLRB issued an advice memo dismissing one of the three CWA grievances and CWA then withdrew the two remaining grievances. In July, the arbiter ruled against Allison’s reinstatement.

Pacifica was vindicated on all counts associated with or having to do with labor issues.

KPFA has a solid line-up of Al-Jazeera English at 6am, Democracy Now! at the prime commute time of 7am, and Morning Mix at 8am, hosted by both volunteers and staff who stepped up to help the station during these financially difficult times.

Adrienne Lauby – Live from the Progressive Festival, Fall 2011

Most importantly, the station is on the road back to financial stability.

However, the people who tried to vilify Arlene Engelhardt are now trying to recall Tracy Rosenberg from the local station board.

Rosenberg saw that KPFA was on a path to a fiscal train wreck and carried out her fiduciary duty as a member of the National Finance Committee in trying to save both KPFA and Pacifica from financial ruin. She also tried to help publicize the new Morning Mix show. Both actions served the interest of KPFA and the Foundation.

It is understandable that with the political division KPFA has experienced over the past several years that any layoff produces controversy, but we should all remember that the ideals and goals we share are far stronger than our differences. And the people need KPFA and Pacifica more than ever before.

Arlene Engelhardt and Tracy Rosenberg both helped save KPFA.

We can all save KPFA together by each of us making a generous donation and working together. Make a donation.  Become a new member.

 August 22, 2012  Posted by at 11:36 pm  Add comments