We want your pledge: bring back the Morning Show

Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt vowed on air on November 9th that there would no more layoffs of KPFA staff, after she dismissed the staff of the Morning Show and created an uproar from listeners. However, KPFA staff have learned that more layoffs may be imminent at the station.

How can you help? SaveKPFA is sponsoring a PLEDGE DRIVE TO RESTORE THE MORNING SHOW and preserve locally-controlled programming. We’ll total the amount and present it to Pacifica management to show both your unhappiness with their latest moves and your commitment to support KPFA if they change course. If Pacifica does the right thing, we’ll bundle your pledges and submit them to KPFA as part of a special fund. Unlike pledges made during fund drives of which Pacifica gets a portion, this pledge will go in its entirety to KPFA.

CLICK HERE to make an ONLINE pledge | CLICK HERE for the MAIL IN version (PDF)

Elected officials “deeply concerned” about Pacifica’s actions

More than a dozen elected officials, including the mayors of Berkeley and Albany, city council members, a state senator and others, have written to Pacifica management to express their “deep concerns about the way in which recent program changes were made at KPFA.”

The authors write: “Why would the station’s best fundraising program be cancelled in the name of cost cutting? Was the move motivated more by political than financial reasons? One of the show’s hosts is a prominent and outspoken member of a slate that opposes the political faction that currently holds a majority on the Pacifica National Board. We are also troubled by the way Pacifica has disregarded the authority of the local station board in budgetary matters.” You can read the entire letter here.

Don’t forget to support KPFA’s locally-planned events, such as this November 30 talk with Chris Hedges, or KPFA’s 40th Annual Crafts Fair on December 11-12. All money raised at KPFA events go solely to KPFA (none to Pacifica).

Listeners give Pacifica an earful; how you can support KPFA

A large group of SaveKPFA supporters turned out last Friday to read a sampling of the thousands of letters sent to protest Pacifica’s slashing of KPFA’s Morning Show, and the “voluntary” departure of seven workers of color.

KPFA’s Kris Welch broadcast parts of the reading live on Living Room, and then took listener call ins. Music programmer David Gans made this recording of the demonstration outside the station.

Among the letters to Pacifica’s executive director Arlene Engelhardt was one from long-time KPFA events producer Bob Baldock: “You barged in and insulted and injured a whole lot of folks you don’t know. This is not progressive. No sanctimonious rhetoric or confused motives can justify it. No blaming it on some dubiously contrived bureaucratic board can make it all right. It is not all right. Undo it. Put our excellent Morning Show team back to work.” | read entire letter

Supporters have been circulating an online petition to bring back the KPFA Morning Show, filled with remarkable comments and signed by many activists, writers and poets, including among others, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Raj Patel, Barbara Dane, Amelia Gonzalez, Dana Frank, Norman Solomon, Gray Brechin and Susan Griffin.

Another way to support KPFA is to attend the station’s locally-planned events, such as this November 30 talk with Chris Hedges, or the KPFA 40th Annual Crafts Fair on December 11-12. All money raised at KPFA events go solely to KPFA (none to Pacifica).

Morning Show labor programmer David Bacon has published a piece about KPFA in Labor Notes. News has also broken that Pacifica is spending listener dollars on a corporate “mangement-side” employment law firm.

A group of KPFA listeners who are educators — professors, scholars, researchers, university staff and teachers — are putting together a public letter of support for the Morning Show. If you fall into this category, please send us your name and academic affiliation and we’ll send you the letter for your consideration.

Listeners at Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI, continue to protest the cancellation or shortening of many shows, including left economist Doug Henwood’s, to make way for commercialism and AIDS denial.

Pacifica management’s Morning Show layoffs violated KPFA’s contract with its union employees, and supporters fear the move will send the station’s finances into a downward spiral, leading to greater cuts. KPFA’s local board, management and workers all back an alternative sustainable budget, which Pacifica management has flatly refused to consider.

Please note: since this Friday, Nov. 26, is a holiday for many, we are cancelling our regular Friday noon action at the station. There will be an action on Friday, Dec. 3. Please stay tuned for new ways to help after the long weekend.

SIGN PETITION: We’re supporters of KPFA, and we want the Morning Show back!


Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt has abruptly laid off the entire staff of KPFA’s Morning Show and started piping in programs from Los Angeles to replace them. The Morning Show was the Bay Area’s only locally-produced non-commercial morning news and information program.

Engelhardt says she’s making the cuts out of financial necessity . . . but can’t answer why she’s taking KPFA’s biggest fundraiser off the air. Now KPFA’s morning audience has dropped, listeners are canceling donations in droves, Pacifica management has had to call off two days of scheduled fundraising, and KPFA’s union has filed legal actions over the treatment of its workers.

Other jobs and local programs at KPFA are on the line if we don’t fix this fast. Tell Pacifica: I want my Morning Show back!

Listeners outraged about layoffs, Pacifica’s hit to diversity

Thousands of listeners have called or written Pacifica’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt, objecting to the mass layoffs of KPFA’s Morning Show staff earlier this week. “As a KPFA listener-supporter since 1966, I am shocked,” wrote listener Saraswathi Devi. “Why would you terminate the staff of the station’s best money maker? …Have you forgotten the original mission of Pacifica and KPFA? It seems that you have and if so, shame on you.”

Another, Michael Eisenscher, noted that Pacifica’s action “demonstrates utter contempt for the workers, paid and unpaid, who produce the programming, for the listeners who fund the station, for the union that represents the staff, and for the very concept of ‘free speech radio.’ KPFA has not struggled to survive all these years only to be dismembered by Pacifica’s corporate-minded fools. The listeners will not stand for it.”  | READ MORE LISTENER MAIL | SIGN PETITION TO RETURN MORNING SHOW

A protest called for Tuesday drew hundreds of concerned listeners on very short notice. Meanwhile, Sonali Kolhatkar, host of the program Uprising, which is being piped in to replace KPFA’s locally produced Morning Show, declared her solidarity with KPFA staff on Wednesday, interviewing Brian Edwards-Tiekert about layoffs on Wednesday and then Engelhardt on Thursday. Engelhardt told Kolhatkar that she had been given her “marching orders” by the Pacifica National Board to slash the show, and she would not say whether the Morning Show’s union staff would be replaced by volunteers. Web audience graphs already show the loss of Morning Show listeners.

Engelhardt claims she supports diversity at KPFA, but the majority of Morning Show workers she laid off are women and people of color. All 7 staff members who have stepped forward to take voluntary severance are people of color, according to a post on KPFAworker.org. One of those, Weyland Southon of Hard Knock Radio, gave this interview on why he’s leaving KPFA.

Station management has called off a fund drive scheduled for next week. Meanwhile, CWA Local 9415 (which represents KPFA paid staff) is demanding an apology from Pacifica for what it calls false charges against the union published on the network’s website.

Press coverage of the situation this week included the San Francisco Chronicle, the Huffington Post, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, as well as a lively debate between Bensky and Engelhardt on KQED’s Forum.

KEEP UP THE PRESSURE: You can reach Engelhardt at (510) 849-2590, ext 208 or cell (510) 402-9880, or write her here. Consider writing a letter to the editor or make blog postings about the KPFA situation. And be sure to sign up for SaveKPFA’s mailing list (upper right of this page) for future action alerts. AND PLEASE JOIN SaveKPFA in front of Pacifica’s offices at 1925 Martin Luther King Jr Way in Berkeley (next door to KPFA) FROM NOON TO 1 PM EVERY FRIDAY. This Friday, November 19, we will read aloud some of the thousands of messages we have received from outraged KPFA listeners objecting to the cancelling of the Morning Show. Please join us!

On-air forum on Morning Show cuts

Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Aimee Allison Nov 9KPFA’s Morning Show today covered Pacifica’s laying off of the entire program’s staff, live on the air. If you missed it, here is the archived version. Morning Show staff interviewed Pacifica management live, and there were also guest appearances from Pacifica historian Matthew Laser and former Pacifica national affairs correspondence Larry Bensky were featured. Listeners calling in were outraged at the news of the firings. The photo at right is of Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Aimee Allison right before they began the day’s broadcast.

In the discussion, it became clear that under the guise of a budget crisis, Pacifica is targeting staff who have spoken out. Pacifica’s chief financial officer LaVarn Williams was unable to cogently answer questions about the budget she is in charge of, instead focusing attacks on those who have opposed her politically. Pacifica’s Arlene Engelhardt appeared not to understand the KPFA staff union contract, or have any clear understanding of KPFA’s history and listenership. Here’s video of Morning Show producer Esther Manilla putting pointed questions to Engelhardt.

SaveKPFA has called a protest today at Pacifica’s offices next door to KPFA for Tues, Nov 9 at 11am, 1929 Martin Luther King Jr Way in Berkeley. You can also call Engelhardt at (510) 849-2590, ext 208 or cell (510) 402-9880. Or write her here. | UPDATE: Thanks for coming out! Here’s a video by KPFA unpaid staffer Judith Scherr and coverage in the Daily Cal

Events will be ongoing – please sign up for our mailing list (top right side of page) to keep informed.

PRESS COVERAGE OF TODAY’S DEVELOPMENTS: Bay Citizen | San Francisco Examiner| San Francisco Chronicle blog |

Pacifica dismisses entire Morning Show staff – PROTEST 11AM Tuesday

Pacifica’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt, has axed KPFA’s Morning Show, dismissing its entire staff, and ordering it replaced with piped-in programs from KPFK, the network’s Los Angeles station.

The KPFA Morning Show is the station’s most popular locally-produced program. The show’s staff — Aimee Allison, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Laura Prives and Esther Manilla — bring in more money than any other KPFA program.

“This move shows utter incompetence,” said newly-elected SaveKPFA board member Margy Wilkinson. “KPFA desperately needs all the funding it can get. Targeting the station’s highest revenue-producing programming makes no sense at all. It is clear politics are at work here, not common sense.”

Manilla gave a first-hand account on tonight’s KPFA Evening News, saying the move came directly from Pacifica management, bypassing local KPFA managers. Manilla is a shop steward with KPFA’s staff union, CWA Local 9415. The union filed an unfair labor practice charge on Friday, charging Pacifica with unlawfully failing to bargain over alternatives to cuts.

Unpaid KPFA programmer David Bacon, who broadcasts a long-running labor segment on the Morning Show, had this exchange with Engelhardt. Morning Show staffer Brian Edwards-Tiekert posted this account.

The cuts follow less than a week after a spirited rally outside KPFA, in which listeners asked the highly-paid Engelhardt to reveal her own salary. This informative 7-minute video by KPFA reporter John Hamilton shows Engelhardt’s reaction, and clearly explains the key issues at stake.

Pacifica’s national board last week overruled KPFA’s local elected board, which had voted to support a Sustainable Budget drawn up by station staff that cuts the network’s bureaucracy instead of programming. That budget would net over $250,000 worth of cost-saving measures.

ACTION ALERT: Demand the return of the Morning Show! COME BY KPFA on TUESDAY at 11 AM. You can also write Engelhardt via this page. Call for her resignation immediately and reinstatement of the Morning Show staff. While you’re at it, demand the adoption of the Sustainable Budget. Engelhardt’s office number is (510) 849-2590, ext 208 and her cell number is (510) 402-9880.

Staff, volunteers, listeners rally to Save KPFA

Thursday’s picket in support of KPFA’s workers was a resounding success. If you only do one thing today, watch this amazing 7 minute video of the rally and see the action item at the end. (There has been high demand, so if you encounter technical difficulties, try this alternative version.) Photos are available here.

Democracy Now! staff sent a message of solidarity that was read at the rally. Many other letters of support are here and here.

ACTION ALERT: the Pacifica National Board may vote on KPFA’s budget TONIGHT (Friday). You can write them an urgent message here. Please tell them to support local programming and the hard-working staff who make it happen.

Media coverage included Berkeleyside, the San Jose Mercury News, and Radio Survivor. An important critical perspective on the crisis at Pacifica by historian Iain Boal appeared in the national journal Counterpunch.

Pacifica’s executive director Arlene Engelhardt emerged briefly from her office during the picket, and protestors began asking her questions. Key among them: “What’s your salary?” She did not answer (see her reaction to the question here). Even though Pacifica is a nonprofit corporation, it has so far refused to release information on its highly-paid management.

Engelhardt has rejected alternative budget proposals, which are backed by staff and listeners, the local station board, and KPFA management. Those proposals, called the Sustainable Budget, would reduce bureaucratic overhead rather than cut on-air programming.

WANT TO DO MORE? Come KPFA’s local board meeting, this Saturday, Nov 6. at 2 pm, at the North Berkeley Senior Center (one block north of KPFA). Please come and speak your mind.