In early April, Pacifica Radio, the nonprofit which runs KPFA, announced the hire of a new permanent executive director: John Gladney Proffitt.
From the official release: “Proffitt comes to Pacifica with extensive experience in public radio management, including twenty-five years as general manager and C.E.O. of the NPR station in Houston, KUHF 88.7 FM. During his tenure at KUHF, Proffitt led the station through continuous, steady growth of audience and community support, including major philanthropic cultivation, all characterized by balanced budgets and fiscal stability. Since leaving KUHF, he has been a volunteer fundraiser at Pacifica’s Houston station, KPFT, along with co-hosting the Thresholds and Open Journal programs there.”
Public records indicate KUHF had an annual budget of $8 million by the time Proffitt departed — about three-quarters the size of Pacifica, including all five stations it owns. Proffitt is scheduled to start work on May 11.
For the past eight months, Pacifica’s acting executive director has been board chair Margy Wilkinson, a member of SaveKPFA. She’s been serving on a volunteer basis to save the network money. “We’ve spent much of the past year stabilizing Pacifica after a turbulent time,” she said of Proffitt’s hire. “Bringing on permanent, experienced leadership is the next step.”
During Wilkinson’ tenure, Pacifica dramatically shrunk its deficits (more on that below), settled claims from more than a dozen debt collectors, beat off a lawsuit from the supporters of former executive Summer Reese, and completed a long-overdue independent financial audit of its books.
Financial update on Pacifica and KPFA
Last summer, SaveKPFA reported on the dire state of finances at Pacifica, the nonprofit that owns KPFA. After being locked out of the network’s National Office for two months by ousted executive Summer Reese, Pacifica’s new CFO Raul Salvador and board chair Margy Wilkinson found an operation in disarray: bookkeeping entries had not been made for nine months, and there were unpaid bills lying in large, unorganized stacks, some of which were apparently slated to be shredded until Wilkinson intervened.
In March, Pacifica finally produced a long-overdue independent financial audit for that period. The numbers are worse than we had previously reported: according to the audit for fiscal year 2013, Pacifica ran a deficit of more than $2.8 million — the organization’s largest loss on record.
Since then, the figures show a steady recovery. According to SaveKPFA‘s Brian Edwards-Tiekert, who is currently chairing the Pacifica National Board’s Finance Committee: “According to preliminary figures produced by Pacifica’s Chief Financial Officer, Pacifica’s deficit dropped to $1 million in FY2014,” [editor's note: Reese was still in control of Pacifica for the first 6 months of 2014, and illegally barricaded herself in the National Office for an additional two months]. Edwards-Tiekert said that “the figures for FY 2015 show Pacifica as a whole on a break-even trajectory after five months. If we get CPB funds reinstated this spring, we should post a healthy surplus.”
Leading the rest of the network: KPFA. Thanks to an incredible response from listeners when the station was facing a cash crunch in December, and a fortuitous bequest that arrived in March, KPFA is outperforming its budget by nearly $400,000 — enough to replenish the station’s operating reserves.
KPFA launches new website, seeks shorter fund drives
The new site boasts a major visual upgrade, better tools for programmers to post information about the guests and topics in their broadcasts, an optimized interface for mobile phones (which is how a growing number of people listen to radio), and integrated social media tools. In an email to listeners, McCoy wrote that “this interactive website will allow more off-air fund raising campaigns, which leads to less on-air pledge drives, which means fewer interruptions to quality programming.”
McCoy told station staff that KPFA will be launching an online fundraising campaign on April 7 with the goal of raising $100,000 to pay for long-neglected building repairs and improvements at KPFA’s studios in downtown Berkeley. If the campaign exceeds goals, the station may be able to shrink or eliminate its summer fund drive.
KPFA co-founder Richard O. Moore passes at 95
Last week also saw the passage of the first voice ever to present a program on KPFA: Richard O. Moore. Moore was a pacifist, a poet, a dancer, and a close associate of Kenneth Rexroth, whom he convinced to deliver a series of acclaimed ad-libbed monologues that helped establish the early identity of KPFA. He went on to become one of the first staffers at KQED public television and, later, a highly-accomplished director of documentaries on everything from Fidel Castro‘s Cuba to the status of black youth in San Francisco.
After retiring, Moore rededicated himself to poetry. His latest selection of poetry, Particulars of Place, is due to be published this month.