KPFA listeners deliver petitions demanding recall vote

Listeners Sharon Maldonado, Kim Waldron, Ying Lee & Barrie Mason (l to r) delivering petitions.

A delegation of listeners delivered a huge stack of petitions containing signatures of over 800 KPFA members during the September 10 meeting of the station’s elected Local Station Board. | KPFA News coverage (audio mp3) | Public comment (7 min audio clip)

Listeners are upset with the loss of local control at KPFA Radio 94.1 FM in Berkeley. The Pacifica network, which owns KPFA’s license, has made controversial changes to programming, including canceling the popular Morning Show at 7-9 AM, severely affecting fundraising during the station’s morning drive time. The petitions demand a vote among KPFA listener-members on the question of recalling board member Tracy Rosenberg, who has been a key ally of Pacifica’s heavy-handed management of KPFA.

“We fought — and won — a similar battle for KPFA back in 1999 when Pacifica tried to take over our station,” recalls listener-activist Barrie Mason. “Tracy Rosenberg has consistently used unethical means to undermine local control,” she added. “Removing her is the first step in saving KPFA.”

“Thousands of listeners have written, called and picketed at KPFA in recent months, demanding a return of the Morning Show and an end to Pacifica’s meddling in the station’s autonomy, but the network’s management refuses to listen,” said KPFA local board member Pamela Drake.

The charges against Rosenberg, who sits on both KPFA’s local board and Pacifica’s national board, include drawing up a secret layoff list that was used to cancel the Morning Show, pressuring Pacifica management to mount legal challenges to seating her opponents on the board (all of which were later overturned in the courts), and falsely obtaining and using KPFA listener-subscribers’ personal emails.

Local station management must review the petitions to insure that the signatures are those of actual KPFA members (people who have given at least $25 in the last year). The Pacifica bylaws simply state that a recall election will be triggered by petitions from 2% of the station’s members — in this case, less than 400 valid signatures are needed.

Audio of the entire September 10 Local Station Board meeting is available here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 [note: sounds quality improves after first few minutes].

See also: No confidence in Pacifica-appointed manager, says local board.

No confidence in Pacifica-appointed manager, says local board

On September 10, KPFA’s Local Station Board passed a resolution saying it had “no confidence” in KPFA’s interim general manager Andrew Leslie Phillips, who was installed by Pacifica’s executive director Arlene Engelhardt about six months ago. The vote was 11-8. All SaveKPFA-affiliated board members present voted for the measure.

“After Pacifica cancelled the Morning Show and laid off its co-hosts, it rejected $63,000 in pledges to help return the program, hired an anti-union law firm to fight KPFA’s staff to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in KPFA’s own funds, and continued making top-down, ill-advised program changes,” said Drake. “We find this unconscionable,” she added.

For details, see Phillips’ support for business “sponsorships” at KPFA (i.e., underwriting), his actions on programming and fundraising, and his approach to station staff.

Delegates to the San Francisco Labor Council unanimously passed a second resolution last week supporting KPFA’s workers.

Audio of the entire September 10 Local Station Board meeting is available here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 [note: sounds quality improves after first few minutes]. | KPFA News coverage (audio mp3) | Public comment from meeting (7 min audio clip)

See also: KPFA listeners deliver petitions demand recall vote

Uprising spared, LA Theatreworks on the block

Despite promises that they would not make any program changes without constituting a Program Council and consulting KPFA’s staff, Pacifica-appointed managers Andrew Phillips and Carrie Core are pressing ahead with plans to replace popular KPFA arts programs with shows hosted by their political allies.

The plans include a program about KPFA’s internal issues, to be hosted by a pro-management partisan who has produced online videos attacking SaveKPFA as well as KPFA’s union, CWA. (Ironically, management has disciplined union members Mitch Jeserich, Mark Mericle and John Hamilton, and unpaid staffer/board member David Gans, for simply mentioning such “internal” issues on the air.) And LA Theatreworks appears to be on the chopping block, to be replaced by a program hosted by allies of management called “Twit-wit,” in which actors read a Twitter stream.

SaveKPFA-affiliated local board members wrote this letter to Phillips, calling management’s actions “incomprehensible,” and noting that they are “certain to drive away even more of KPFA’s listeners.”

YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE: TAKE ACTION FOR KPFA!
An avalance of objections from KPFA listeners and staff appears to have saved Sonali Kolhatkar‘s Uprising (details here). Let’s turn up the heat again: CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EMAIL to KPFA’s managers telling them that you DO NOT support their destructive moves, and that you demand their resignations immediately. Use our sample letter or create your own, as you prefer.

Outraged listener letters pour in
Hundreds of you have also called for the resignations of the managers responsible for the destruction of KPFA’s programming. Here are just a few: “As decades-long listeners and financial contributors to KPFA,” wrote Blair and Charlie Moser, “we honestly believe that ‘managers’ Engelhardt, Phillips and Core are deliberately attempting to destroy KPFA, in order that its license and broadcast frequency can be sold to commercial interests. These three so-called ‘managers’ are paid a total of $210,000 in salaries….Those funds should support the programming KPFA listeners pay to hear, not an incompetent bureaucracy that is canceling the best programs.”

“Without the anchor program of the Morning Show, to wake me up in the morning, I only sporadically listen to KPFA throughout the day, avoiding ever more programming” installed by the interim managers, wrote listener Norie Clarke. “We must remove the bloated salaries, and dictatorial powers of Phillips, Core, and Engelhardt which are being used to bleed dry the resources, community spirit and open voice of KPFA.”

We’ll be posting more letters from listeners who have given permission at SaveKPFA‘s listener mail page.

Your KPFA board reps at work
After a disastrous fund drive with year-over-year declines in every morning time slot reprogrammed by Pacifica, SaveKPFA reps passed a motion at the August 20 Local Station Board meeting recommending that managers reinstate the Morning Show during the major fund drive scheduled for October.

Pacifica-appointed manager Andrew Phillips gave no indication he’d actually implement the motion. The debate, however, was instructive: members of Independents for Community Radio (ICR), the pro-management slate on KPFA’s board, had to explain how they justified keeping KPFA’s biggest fundraiser off the air. Pacifica has maintained it was forced to axe the Morning Show due to financial necessity and union rules regarding layoffs — even though Brian Edwards-Tiekert won reinstatement through a union grievance and SaveKPFA raised enough money to pay for Aimee Allison to return.

But at the board meeting, ICR rep Henry Norr (audio clip) argued against even temporarily putting the old Morning Show staff on the air because, he said, it would increase pressure for a permanent reinstatement. ICR rep Cynthia Johnson said, “There is nothing sacred about a couple of jobs.” Former ICR member Sasha Futran (audio clip) who declared herself fully independent earlier this year, said, “The Morning Mix [the program Pacifica imposed to replace the Morning Show] is, frankly, dreadful. . . there were two times I turned to the station at 8 AM and didn’t know I was listening to KPFA.” She turned to her former ICR colleagues and said they know the program is awful, and say as much to each other privately. | ENTIRE BOARD MEETING: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5

solidarity fist kpfaSolidarity from San Francisco Labor Council
Delegates to the San Francisco Labor Council unanimously passed a second resolution last week supporting KPFA’s workers. In addition, unpaid programmer David Bacon, who has been out in solidarity since the Morning Show‘s cancellation, made a surprise appearance on KPFA after Philip Maldari asked him to guest host the pre-Labor Day Sunday Show. Listeners, such as Barrie Ann Mason, were delighted, calling the show “informed, intelligent, thoughtful, grounded in experience [and] very compassionate,” and adding a thank-you for Bacon’s “principled” stand to help KPFA’s community regain control of the station.

LAST CHANCE: send in your recall petition now
We will shortly be turning in petition signatures to recall Pacifica National Board treasurer Tracy Rosenberg. As with any petition campaign, some signatures will not be valid, and we expect Rosenberg to try to slow the process by bringing multiple challenges. That’s why it’s extremely important to exceed the required number by an overwhelming margin — so the petition’s validity is beyond question.

If you haven’t already, please:
1) make sure you’re a paid-up KPFA member
by giving at least $25 at kpfa.org/support
2) PRINT, SIGN, & MAIL the petition
here: http://www.SaveKPFA.org/recall/petition.pdf

A CORRECTION: Tracy Rosenberg wrote to us recently objecting to our description of her as “a key person who put Engelhardt, Phillips and Core in power,” saying she wasn’t a member of Pacifica’s board when executive director Arlene Engelhardt was hired. Rosenberg has been a strong ally of Engelhardt’s her entire tenure, presented Engelhardt a list of KPFA staff members to purge that included the Morning Show‘s staff, personally recruited volunteers to replace those staff when other union members refused to, misappropriated KPFA’s list of member emails to publicize the replacement program, lobbied heavily for Engelhardt to hire Andrew Phillips to work as KPFA’s interim general manager, engineered an illegal move by the Pacifica National Board to unseat two duly-elected SaveKPFA representatives, and launched vicious and misleading attacks on KPFA programmer David Gans for criticizing Pacifica’s hand-picked management. But Rosenberg did not, as far as we can tell, play a role in the decision to hire Engelhardt in the first place. We regret the error.

Yet another legal victory for SaveKPFA
Pacifica management ally Carol Spooner, fresh from her failed attempt to get the Court of Appeals to knock two SaveKPFA representatives off the Pacifica National Board, has racked up two more losses.

First, she tried to intervene at the trial court level, with the judge who issued an injunction in favor of SaveKPFA reps Dan Siegel and Laura Prives. After judge Frank Roesch expressed extreme skepticism, she withdrew her request, and tried to do an end-run around him by filing a new lawsuit with another judge. On August 15, Alameda County Superior Court judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers threw out that suit as well. Strike three!