Call for “evidence-based” programming, while KPFA’s manager blames staff and listeners for funding decline

Aileen Alfandary, co-director of KPFA’s News, explained to local KPFA board members on May 21 how top-down program changes have damaged the station. | LISTEN TO 4 MINUTE AUDIO CLIP

She asked the station’s board to require management to adhere to “evidence-based” decisions, and presented the graph at the right comparing hour-by-hour fund totals for the first two weeks of the recent fund drive to those a year ago (when the Morning Show was on 7-9am).  Here’s an audio clip of Alfandary’s comments at the meeting.

Thanks to all of you who gave during KPFA’s fund drive. It was the longest in over a decade, but the projected shortfall was dramatically reduced in the final week as listeners answered a call from KPFAWorker.org (supported by SaveKPFA) to pledge in support of KPFA’s staff.

Morning fundraising averages per on-air host, KPFA spring fund drive

The entire shortfall came from a decline during the morning hours of 6-10AM, in the wake of the cancellation of the Morning Show and related program moves. “Year over year, fundraising during those hours dropped by more than $5,000 per day — $90,000 over the course of the drive,” according to a detailed analysis of pledges by KPFAWorker.org, “and likely would have dropped much more if KPFA programmers (and former Morning Show staffers) Philip Maldari, Mitch Jeserich, and Brian Edwards-Tiekert hadn’t stepped in to fundraise during those hours.”

Just published Arbitron ratings show that during the last 3 months, KPFA’s audience share has declined once again — a sign that listeners are tuning out. KPFA’s audience dropped from 139,200 in February 2011 to 113,100 in April 2011.

Unfortunately, during the last week of the fund drive, interim general manager Andrew Phillips unleashed an on- and off-air attack on the KPFA staff and listeners who were working so hard to raise those funds, calling them a “fifth column” which constituted an enemy within the station. Phillips was brought out from New York and installed by Pacifica’s Arlene Engelhardt as KPFA’s interim manager just 3 months ago. Here’s an audio clip, or you can watch a short video with excerpts of his performance from the board meeting captured on cell phone here or listen to the entire 4 hour recording.

Hourly average pledges during 8am "special programming" period of fund drive

Phillips, along with interim program director Carrie Core, was installed by Pacifica’s Arlene Engelhardt with no input from the KPFA community. Here’s the full story, including audio of Phillips and responses to his claims. (If you’d like to respond too, you can do so here.)

The SaveKPFA-affiliated majority on KPFA’s local station board wrote a letter to Phillips in April emphasizing the need to consult objective evidence, such as Arbitrons, in making programming changes. SaveKPFA has also presented management with its survey of nearly 1,000 listeners showing overwhelming dissatisfaction with Pacifica’s autocratic changes.

KPFA fund drive ends, thanks to all who contributed

UPDATE: The fund drive is over. Your pledges made a real difference during the last week, pulling the station out of an expected $150,000 deficit to an a smaller $80,000 shortfall, and raising $10,000 alone in the last hour of the drive during the Evening News.  Thank you!  You can still donate anytime at KPFA’s online site.

To support KPFA’s Spring Fund Drive, the station’s staff passed the hat at union halls, and circulating fundraising appeals online at KPFAWorker.org. They raised over $13,000 for on-air challenges “in support of KPFA’s workers.” Those pledges, raised during the last week of the drive, were announced on air and matched — and then some — by others who also called in with their support.

Soon, SaveKPFA will launch some exciting initiatives that you’ll need to be a voting member of KPFA to participate in — so stay tuned, and sign up for our email alerts if you haven’t yet.

General manager calls KPFA’s staff and listeners a “fifth column”

So, has Pacifica’s hand-picked KPFA manager Andrew Phillips welcomed the extraordinary off-air fundraising efforts by KPFA’s workers? Nah.

At the May 21 meeting of KPFA’s local station board, Phillips (who’d taken a week-long vacation in the middle of the fund drive), accused the station’s staff of making the fund drive fail because of their “dissent,” referred to KPFA’s workers and listeners as a “fifth column” (a reference to fascist infiltration of loyalist forces during the Spanish Civil War), and asserted that KPFA could operate without any paid workers at all.

This, from a person who refused to accept $63,000 of listener pledges to restore the Morning Show, and whose own salary is among KPFA’s highest. When the audio from the public local board meeting is available, we’ll post it so you can listen for yourself.

Judge calls Pacifica back into court for contempt hearing

The Pacifica National Board has removed elected SaveKPFA listener delegates Dan Siegel and Laura Prives in apparent defiance of an injunction from Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch. Roesch has scheduled a hearing on enforcing his injunction for June 3, and a contempt of court proceeding against Pacifica and two of its board officers for July 1.

Morning “Mix” to return

Just before the fund drive started, KPFA managers announced that the ill-conceived replacement for The Morning Show — called the Morning Mix — would end. They also announced sweeping changes to KPFA’s programming that listeners overwhelmingly rejected. According to a memo sent to staff on Friday, management is now backing off its programming changes, but also extending the Morning Mix’s lease on life.

PRESS CLIPS: California Labor Federation on KPFA fundraising | David Bacon’s Letter to Labor Activists

KPFA’s Fund Drive desperately needs your help

Largely because of a drop-off in giving during the mornings, KPFA is likely to end its Spring Fund Drive over $150,000 short — which could be catastrophic.

KPFA’s staff have launched an EMERGENCY APPEAL for pledges “in support of KPFA’s workers.” It’s a way to publicly register your dissatisfaction with Pacifica’s actions, while ensuring the station stays afloat long enough for us to win the fight.

Pledges from labor and community activists have started rolling in, encouraged by this letter from former Morning Show programmer David Bacon. Let’s send a strong message to management: support KPFA’s workers and return our favorite programming NOW!

Donating at least $25/year gives you the right to vote in KPFA board elections, recalls and bylaws changes. (More news on that soon; meanwhile, see our four reasons to give to KPFA in this fund drive.) Please forward this link widely — encourage everyone in your address book to pledge to support KPFA’s workers.

Survey results show 91% support Morning Show return, listeners ready to act

Thanks to all of you who participated, SaveKPFA has just completed our first-ever survey. The survey was a response to KPFA management’s announcement of drastic programming changes — all without consulting KPFA’s listeners.

Seventy percent of those surveyed said the changes would decrease their listening time, and 65% said the new changes would decrease the likelihood they’d give financially to KPFA. Of the specific changes announced by management, pariticipants most opposed proposals to move or eliminate the 9 AM broadcast of Democracy Now!, and to move Hard Knock Radio and Flashpoints to the morning hours. In all, 948 people responded to the poll.

Your responses have already had an impact: SaveKPFA representatives Margy Wilkinson, Mal Burnstein and Barbara Whipperman presented the survey results to KPFA interim general manager Andrew Phillips — he told them his plans to scramble KPFA’s morning lineup were “in abeyance,” partly because of “enormous push back.”

91% say “restore the Morning Show”

The strongest positive survey response came in reaction to an option management has not yet put on the table — restoring KPFA’s Morning Show. A whopping 91% of participants registered support.

One wrote: “We need professional journalists covering local and national stories in depth. I miss all of the Morning Show, but especially the environmental news, the film reviews and the coverage of local politics and culture.” Another respondent: “Since the Morning Show is gone I don’t feel the tie to the Bay Area anymore. . . . I’ve been a supporter for 8 years, but this year I decided not to pay my pledge unless the Morning Show returns.”

Many expressed support for Flashpoints and Hard Knock Radio, but not for broadcasting them in the morning, which, as one listener wrote, seemed like a plan “set up to fail.” Over 90% of respondents supported the right of KPFA’s journalists to cover developments in the network and opposed any corporate funding.

Strong support for changing Pacifica’s bylaws

Eighty-seven percent of survey respondents said they’d support a recall of incumbent board members involved in misconduct, and about the same percentage said they’d support changing Pacifica’s bylaws to give KPFA more local control.

Of the 14% of respondents who said they are not currently KPFA members, nearly half (47%) said they’d be willing to become a member in order to vote on restoring local control at KPFA.

Since there is no way to randomly survey everyone who listens to KPFA, this survey used what statisticians call “snowball sampling.” SaveKPFA distributed the survey to its growing email list, and posted invitations in places KPFA listeners were likely to visit — such as the Facebook pages for Alternet and Democracy Now! Participants were encouraged to pass the survey along to other KPFA listeners. To avoid vote-stacking, survey software prevented anyone from completing the survey twice from the same computer.  | READ COMPLETE SURVEY RESULTS

What do KPFA listeners want? Tell us.

Art by Bob Baldock for the film KPFA on the Air

As we announced last week, the interim managers that Pacifica has installed at KPFA have announced sweeping program changes. Problem is, they haven’t bothered to ask KPFA’s listeners what we want. So, we’re doing it for them.

Please take a moment to answer these 12 QUESTIONS FOR KPFA’S LISTENERS & STAFF via this SaveKPFA ONLINE SURVEY.

We’ll use the data to show KPFA and Pacifica management what the KPFA community wants out of our station. It will also help us plan SaveKPFA‘s work in the coming months. Many of you have said you’re tired of writing letters to management that are ignored, and you want to take stronger action — we’ll use your responses to plan our next steps.

Goldman Sachs funding causes uproar

Twelve members of the local station board have written an open letter to KPFA’s interim general manager Andrew Phillips objecting to what they say is “completely inappropriate” behavior on his part toward the station’s journalists, after news staff broke the story of a $15,000 donation from Goldman Sachs to Pacifica.

A scan of the actual checks from Goldman Sachs Gives raises more questions than it answers, showing that the funds were earmarked for a series on hydro-fracking, but leaving off important attachments and presenting conflicting information, which is being investigated. The fund was started by the firm’s partners in 2007, as part of a public relations campaign to deflect criticism over its executive bonuses and involvement in the global financial meltdown.

WBAI’s Finance Committee, which had uncovered the donation a little over a week ago, has passed a motion expressing frustration that management has not responded to its inquiries.

Four reasons to give to KPFA’s Spring Fund Drive

KPFA’s Spring Fund Drive is about to start. We want to heartily encourage you to give, despite the turmoil. Here’s why:

  1. The more money KPFA raises, the less of an excuse Pacifica has to interfere with the station.
  2. Your donations are the only thing standing between KPFA’s union staff and further retaliatory layoffs.
  3. Change. Donating gets you the right to vote in KPFA board elections, bylaws amendments, and recalls of board members.
  4. Warts and all, KPFA is worth it.

USE YOUR PLEDGE TO SPEAK OUT IN SUPPORT OF KPFA’S WORKERS: If you are able to make a contribution of $200 or more, please tell the person who takes your call that you’d like your pledge used as a match, and you’d like it to be announced as a challenge “in support of KPFA’s workers.” You can add also add that message to pledges of any size that you make at KPFA’s online donations page.

Understanding the relationship between KPFA and Pacifica

Art by Bob Baldock for the film KPFA on the Air

How could the Pacifica network, which KPFA listeners and staff fought to make accountable a decade ago, now go to war with local staff and listeners?

Listen to this short audio clip (7 minutes) of SaveKPFA-affiliated board member Matthew Hallinan explaining the big picture on Friday’s KPFA Local Station Board Show. You can find the entire show here (50 minutes), including many interesting listener call-ins and a dramatic performance at the half-hour mark by Pacifica/KPFA board member Tracy Rosenberg.

Meanwhile, twelve members of the local station board have written an open letter to KPFA’s interim general manager Andrew Phillips objecting to what they say is “completely inappropriate” behavior on his part toward the station’s journalists, after they broke the story of a $15,000 donation from Goldman Sachs to Pacifica. The board members’ letter also reiterates questions about management’s sweeping program changes, including moving Flashpoints and Hard Knock Radio to the AM hours while refusing to restore the KPFA Morning Show.

“Oops, sorry for the election fraud!” says Pacifica

Last week, Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt sent out a mass email that apologized for Pacifica’s attempt to throw out the ballots of three staff members, which would have cost SaveKPFA supporter Lewis Sawyer his seat on KPFA’s local board. A judge’s injunction reversed Pacifica’s actions in December.

Pacifica had decided whose ballots to throw out only after the ballots had already been tallied. “It was a clear violation of state law for us to deprive members of their right to vote without notice, let alone due process,” wrote Engelhardt. “It is still more egregious to breach the secrecy of the ballot to do so.”

As part of a settlement, the KPFA staff members who took Pacifica to court traded away their right to pursue legal fees for a promise from Pacifica that it will guarantee the secrecy of the ballot in future elections.