Layoffs imminent at KPFA: vote YES on KPFA recall to stop the next purge

This is a message from Brian Edwards-Tiekert, who hosts UpFront on KPFA.

Hi everyone,

If you’re a KPFA member, you should have just received what may be the most important KPFA ballot you ever get. It asks whether or not to recall Pacifica Treasurer Tracy Rosenberg. At stake is whether KPFA survives as we know it. That’s why I’m urging you to vote “yes” on the recall. | SEE RECALL ENDORSERS

Some background: Rosenberg was the chief architect of a political purge that killed KPFA’s biggest fundraiser—The Morning Show. That purge was a watershed: it was the first time the factionalism of KPFA’s board (where I served as a worker-elected representative) penetrated the station’s day-to-day operations (where I worked as a program host). Rosenberg and Pacifica used a real financial crisis as a pretext to fire  their political enemies, throw us off the air, and replace us with their own supporters.

That move cost KPFA tens of thousands of listeners, and hundreds of thousands of pledge dollars. It also violated the station’s union contract – which is why Pacifica had to reverse most of the layoffs (including my own) it made in that purge.

Inside KPFA, we’ve been slowly re-building. Thanks to heroic fundraising efforts, excruciatingly long fund drives, and a windfall estate gift, we’ve managed to keep the station solvent — KPFA’s April financial statements show us almost exactly on-budget (within 0.75% of budget goals), which means we’re on track to finish the year with an operating surplus of over $150,000.

We’re moving forward: in late May, KPFA launched UpFront — a program I co-host at 7:AM. We launched on three days’ notice, with no publicity, in the final week of a fund drive. But in that first week, we still became the station’s top fundraiser, clocking $40,000 raised in the seven days we were on the air. If we can keep it up, KPFA can start shortening its fund drives and try to win back some of the listeners who’ve left.

Unfortunately, we’re poised to lose it all.

Yesterday, Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt sent a letter to KPFA’s union (and copied to Tracy Rosenberg), giving formal notice that there will be a new round of layoffs in 30 days. As long as Engelhardt is in charge of Pacifica, and taking her cues from Rosenberg, any such cuts will come in the form of another political purge. I doubt KPFA’s ability to recover from this one.

But if Tracy Rosenberg is recalled, it will send a strong message about what KPFA’s listeners will and will not stand for – it may back Pacifica off from making these unnecessary cuts, or at least from making them into a political purge. Most importantly, recalling and replacing Tracy Rosenberg should tip the balance on the Pacifica National Board, and lead to the swift departure of Pacifica’s Executive Director, Arlene Engelhardt–the most aggressively anti-union manager I’ve seen in my nine years at KPFA.

They are killing our network. The Rosenberg/Engelhardt regime has racked up massive bills from $400- to $500-per-hour law firms that Pacifica’s used to fight its unions, its dissident board members, and the organizers of this recall election. Meanwhile, Pacifica’s been routinely shorting paychecks for union members at KPFA, and fallen so far behind on payments to Free Speech Radio News that the program may cease broadcasting within a month. (And yet, somehow, Pacifica’s board majority has found tens of thousands of dollars with which to fly 22 board members from across the country to a four-day meeting in a Hotel in Berkeley next month.)

The best defense Rosenberg’s supporters have mustered is a tepid appeal to “stop the infighting”. But Rosenberg is actually one of the worst purveyors of infighting — she just happens to be doing it from a position of power, from which infighting comes in the form of politically-targeted layoffs and program changes.

Help get out the vote. KPFA elections have low turnout, and tend to be decided by relatively small margins—which is why your actions are so important.  Please:

  • Pass this email on to people you know who might be KPFA members.
  • Go to the website to learn more about the recall campaign.
  • Most importantly, return your ballot now so you don’t forget.

In solidarity,
Brian Edwards-Tiekert
Co-Host, “UpFront”, KPFA 94.1 FM
Former staff representative (2004-2010), KPFA Local Station Board

Recall ballots mailing 6/28, says Pacifica

At long last, ballots which should have mailed in December 2011 are finally being mailed in the grassroots, listener-prompted recall election on Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg. According to the election supervisor Pacifica hired, ballots were scheduled to mail 6/26 but he has pushed that back to 6/28. Ballots are due back August 3.

“The waste of scarce resources that has resulted from Rosenberg’s role on the KPFA and Pacifica boards is really tragic,” writes labor journalist Steve Early, one of many new endorsers in the VOTE YES on the KPFA recall campaign. He adds that Rosenberg has played a central role in gutting the station’s finances and its most popular programming, and in many of the attacks on KPFA’s union workers, such as supporting Pacifica’s hiring of infamous union-busters Jackson Lewis.

Support for a YES vote has been flooding in. Here are just a few of the most recent endorsers: Paul George, director, Peninsula Peace & Justice Center; Andrej Grubacic, anarchist historian, author of “Wobblies and Zapatistas”; Charlotte Sáenz, community artist and educator; Iain Boal, social historian of the commons; Eric Klein, former tech producer for Free Speech Radio News & Flashpoints; Andrea Turner, KPFA Local Station Board member, cultural and community activist; David Martinez, filmmaker; Summer Brenner, author of “Richmond Tales”; Barbara Epstein, Professor of History of Consciousness, UC Santa Cruz; Peter Olney, ILWU organizing director (titles and organizations for ID only) | SEE MORE ENDORSERS

Your participation is critical to saving KPFA

The coming days are crucial to the struggle to retain local control of KPFA — your efforts have never been more important. Here’s what you can do to help ensure the recall succeeds:

  • Look for your ballot and VOTE YES to RECALL ROSENBERG.
  • Help us MONITOR THE ELECTION to be sure Pacifica conducts it fairly and impartially by sending an e-mail to once you’ve mailed your ballot in.
  • CALL THREE FRIENDS who listen to KPFA. Ask them to watch for their ballots, and explain why the recall is so important. Talking points are here, or print out some flyers to distribute.
  • If you use Twitter, alert your followers that the ballots are out. Here’s a sample tweet: Recall ballots were mailed to #KPFA members today. Vote YES to recall Tracy Rosenberg & restore local control!
  • POST A STATUS UPDATE on Facebook, alerting KPFA members to watch for their ballots. Or just share this link:
  • ENDORSE the YES campaign. Just send us a note at or call us at 510-969-9373.
  • VOLUNTEER to help Get Out the Vote. Contact us for details.

VOTING YES on the recall, which is endorsed by a long list of KPFA listeners and workers, is the first step toward regaining a Pacifica National Board that is responsive to listeners and local autonomy for KPFA.

You’re supposed to get a ballot if you’re a KPFA listener-member — meaning you gave $25 or more in a one-year period. Pacifica’s election supervisor writes: “If any listener-member fails to receive a ballot, or if it is lost or damaged, please contact or (323) 375-4126 during standard business hours PST for a replacement.”

We endorse YES on the KPFA recall!

Thanks to a grassroots campaign to return local control to KPFA, Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg is facing a recall endorsed by a long list of community activists,  listeners and staff. Ballots must be RECEIVED by AUG. 3 at: KPFA Recall Election, P.O. Box 11708, Berkeley, CA 94712 | Ballot info | BREAKING NEWS: Goodbye Arlene Engelhardt? Great news from the Pacifica National Board meeting in Berkeley | KPFA’s budget surplus and Pacifica’s audit: learn more

We urge you to VOTE YES on the recall!
(this is a partial list, see full list here)

AILEEN ALFANDARY, co-director, KPFA News
EMILY ALMA, Chico Peace and Justice Center, Butte Environmental Council, Occupy Chico, Chico Palestine Action Group
DR. NANCY ARVOLD, psychologist, social activist, feminist
L. AYRES-FREDERICK, Artistic Director, Phoenix Arts Association Theatre
DAVID BACON, labor correspondent, former KPFA Morning Show; TNG/ CWA Local 39521
BOB BALDOCK, KPFA Public Events Producer
VIC BEDOIANPacifica Evening News Central Valley reporter, Fresno
JIM BENNETT, Former Interim General Manager, KPFA, Former Pacifica National Board Member, Former Operations Director, KPFA
LARRY BENSKY, Pacifica National Affairs correspondent (1987-2007)
LAYNA BERMAN, unpaid weekly programmer
IAN BOAL, social historian of the commons
SUMMER BRENNER, author, Richmond Tales, and community activist
MALCOLM BURNSTEIN, KPFA board member and retired civil rights lawyer
CATHY CAMPBELL, president, Berkeley Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1078
CLAIRE CUMMINGS, former Food and Farming editor, KPFA
LAWRENCE DAVIDSON, former co-host of KPFA’s Probabilities
JIM DAVIS, filmmaker, Meeting Room
PAMELA DRAKE, Oakland activist, KPFA Local Station Board member
ELLEN DUBROWIN, listener, former programmer & off-air staff (unpaid)
STEVE EARLY, labor journalist (CounterPunch), TNG/ CWA Local 39521
BARBARA EPSTEIN, professor, History of Consciousness, UCSC
JAN ETRE, Crafts Fair Coordinator
DANA FRANK, Professor, History, UC Santa Cruz, AFT 1299
JULIANA FREDMAN, public interest attorney and activist
JON FROMER, singer/songwriter, NABET/CWA Local 51 shop steward
SASHA FUTRAN, member, KPFA local station board
DAVID GANS, music programmer, KPFA board member
SHERRY GENDELMAN, attorney, former chair, KPFA board; former chair, Pacifica National Board
PAUL GEORGE, director, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
SUZANNE GORDON, journalist and author, NWU/UAW
ANDREJ GRUBACIC, anarchist historian, author of Wobblies and Zapatistas
MIGUEL GUERRERO, KPFA web producer, producer of Rock en Rebelion
CONN HALLINAN, foreign policy analyst, Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Study, columnist, LSB member
MATTHEW HALLINAN, listener rep, KPFA Local Station Board
WILLIAM HARVEY, Retired Sec/Treas CWA Local 9415, Retired President Alameda County Labor Council AFL-CIO
JANE HEAVEN, KPFA producer/host, field recording engineer
JANE HIRSHFIELD, poet, author, listener-member
JOHN IVERSON, health activist
SHEILA JORDAN, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools
RAMSEY KANAAN, KPFA unpaid staff, founder AK Press and PM Press, co-founder San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair
CHRIS KAVANAGH, former elected Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner (2002-2008), former Green Party of Alameda County Central/County Council member
LARRY KELP, KPFA producer and host, Sing Out!
LISA KERMISH, Vice President, UPTE-CWA Local 9119
SHELLEY KESSLER, Secretary-Treasurer, San Mateo Labor Council
ERIC KLEIN, former FSRN tech producer; former KPFA News producer; former tech producer, Flashpoints
HELENE KNOX, poet, editor, KPFA listener & volunteer
JACK KURZWEIL, listener rep, KPFA board
JAMES LAFFERTY, host, The Lawyers Guild Show (KPFK); Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles
JOHN LAVINE, activist, former Berkeley Peace and Justice Commissioner
YING LEE, Asian-Americans for Peace and Justice
SASHA LILLEY, KPFA’s Against the Grain; Shop Steward, CWA Local 9415
LAURA LIVOTI, founder, Justice in Nigeria Now!
ROBERT LONGER, Exec VP, CWA Local 9421
TIM LYNCH, KPFA producer and host, unpaid staff
PHILIP MALDARI, KPFA’s Sunday Show; Shop Steward, CWA Local 9415
JOANNA MANQUEROSMusic of the World, unpaid staff
DAVID MARTINEZ, radical filmmaker
DIANA MARTINEZLetters & Politics, unpaid staff
EMILY MCMILIN, Former KPFA Station Engineer
PETER OLNEY, listener and ILWU organizing director
ZEESE  PAPANIKOLAS, listener, Oakland CA
EDDY PAY, KPFA music programmer
SCOTT PHAMFree Speech Radio News, Technical Producer
SALLY PHILLIPS, KPFA Producer, Host, Engineer
LAURA PRIVES, former executive producer of the KPFA Morning Show; producer, Letters & Politics, KPFA board member, Pacifica National Board member
GLENN REEDERKPFA News anchor, unpaid staff
BLANCHE RICHARDSON, owner, Marcus Books
DERK RICHARDSON, host of KPFA’s The Hear and Now
FRANCESCA ROSA, member SEIU 1021, delegate, SF Labor Council
SUSAN SACHEN, Campaign Director, California Labor Federation
CHARLOTTE SAENZ, community artist and educator
LYNNE HOLLANDER SAVIO, Mario Savio Memorial Lecture & Young Activist Award
LEWIS SAWYER, producer, Early Morning Music, former KPFA Receptionist
DAN  SIEGEL, civil rights and labor attorney, former Pacifica General Counsel
BONNIE SIMMONS, host, KPFA’s Bonnie Simmons Show; former LSB, Pacifica National Board member
SARA STEFFENS, Newspaper Guild/CWA District 9
SUSAN STONE, Former Director, KPFA’s Drama and Literature Department
VANESSA TAIT, KPFA News; co-founder, FSRN; author Poor Workers’ Unions; TNG/ CWA Local 39521
MARY TILSON, Host, America’s Back 40 (with Bette Beasley)
ANDREA TURNER, cultural and community activist, LSB member
SALLY VENABLE, president, CWA Local 9415
RICHARD  WALKER, professor, radical geographer & author of The Country in the City
KATHLEEN WEAVER, Author of Peruvian Rebel, listener/member
KRIS WELCH, KPFA’s Living Room
JOHN WHITING, KPFA Production Director and Program Producer (1960-1965); London Correspondent, Pacifica Radio (1966-1972)
BARBARA WHIPPERMAN, treasurer, KPFA local station board
MARGY WILKINSON, chair, KPFA Local Station Board
CAL WINSLOW, labor historian, co-author of Rebel Rank and File
RYCHARD WITHERS, Executive Director, Fresno Free College Foundation, General Manager, KFCF (Fresno)
EDDIE YUEN, KPFA’s Against the Grain
(Please note: all titles & organizations for ID only)

SEE the full endorsers’ list here, as well as additional lists of SaveKPFA’s endorsers supporters.

Why Recall Rosenberg?
Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg has been the principal defender of the current management at Pacifica, the corporation that owns KPFA. With Rosenberg’s support, and at her behest, Pacifica has:

Let’s get KPFA back in the hands of local listeners and staff — VOTE YES on the KPFA recall! Questions? Email us. Fill out this form to add your endorsement.

Pacifica demanding $1 million from stations to fix network’s financial problems

While KPFA’s fund drive came in a little low, the station’s overall budget remains balanced — the station is on track to have a small surplus. Not so with Pacifica, the corporation that owns KPFA as well as KPFK (Los Angeles), WPFW (Washington), WBAI (New York City) and KPFT (Houston).

Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg told KPFA’s local board on June 2 that Pacifica is demanding $1 million from all member five stations to balance its budget, and that cuts will likely come as staff layoffs. Rosenberg said KPFA would be responsible for a larger part of the cut since its budget is bigger than those of the other four stations.

“Pacifica is in crisis due to its own financial mismanagement,” said one board member.  Each station already pays 19.5% of its income to Pacifica for “central services” such as accounting, insurance, and common programming expenses. Pacifica has granted a 50% discount in those fees to WBAI, which has been operating with a huge deficit and an expensive Wall Street lease for years. In March, KPFA’s local treasurer and business manager reported serious problems with Pacifica’s taking more of KPFA’s money than it was owed — at that time, up to $154,000.

Listeners and staff are asking why KPFA and the other stations should continue to foot the bill. At June’s LSB meeting, several local board members questioned why KPFA would be asked to lay off staff to come up with $300,000 for Pacifica. “What is Pacifica doing about looking at ways in which WBAI can seriously cut their costs?” asked board member Sasha Futran, adding: “WBAI is taking the network down, potentially.” | LISTEN to an exchange between Futran & Rosenberg (3-min audio) or to the entire LSB meeting here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

Listeners love KPFA’s new UpFront program at 7AM

The new UpFront program from 7-8 AM hosted by KPFA’s Brian Edwards-Tiekert and KPFK’s Sonali Kolhatkar brought in the highest number of pledges per hour during KPFA’s spring fund drive, raising nearly $40,000 in just 7 days — an astonishingly good response to a new show rushed onto the air with virtually no advance publicity.

That helped KPFA’s drive finish up with nearly $690,000,  about 7% short of its $740,000 goal. You can see a breakdown of pledges by program here. UpFront‘s presence in the AM drive time also clearly pushed other slots to higher fund totals.

UpFront is an initiative of the KPFA News Department, which was given the green light by interim general manager Andrew Phillips, who admitted the decision was a “180- degree turn” for him and that “politics” had prevented him from acting sooner. Phillips told KPFA’s board on June 2 he’d received overwhelmingly positive comments about UpFront. He said the Morning Show was disbanded by Pacifica’s executive director Arlene Engelhardt in “a very abrupt, unconsultative manner,” as a result of which he heard “tremendous pain, anger, frustration, anguish from this community.” | LISTEN to Phillips (1-min audio) [longer discussion below, in the LSB meeting, part 1]

Interim KPFA manager leaving, but Pacifica’s Engelhardt refuses to follow bylaws in replacing him

Just after the recent fund drive ended, KPFA’s interim general manager Andrew Phillips announced he’ll be leaving as of June 30. KPFA’s Local Station Board (LSB) had been interviewing candidates for the permanent general manager position, and passed this resolution last month objecting to Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt‘s apparent refusal to do her part, under the bylaws, to finish that process. The LSB had interviewed candidates and chosen a pool of 3 it found qualified. The bylaws require Engelhardt to hire a GM from that pool, but Engelhardt dragged the process out for months, then refused to make a choice.

KPFA board member Conn Hallinan, who headed the GM search committee, made this 5-minute report at last month’s LSB meeting, concluding that the rights of KPFA’s listeners and staff to run their station were being “eviscerated.”

KPFA’s local board chair Margy Wilkinson and vice chair Sasha Futran met with Engelhardt on June 5. Engelhardt told them she was not going to hire a permanent general manager from the LSB’s pool, but was instead looking for another interim GM to replace Phillips. She said she was talking to 4 people “suggested by media and communications professionals.” When Wilkinson and Futran pointed out to Engelhardt that this was the second time in her tenure that she was moving to appoint a manager without any consultation with KPFA’s local board or staff, she had no response.

Save Free Speech Radio News

YouTube clip of Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on FSRN

Democracy Now! in support of FSRN

Pacifica has apparently put those who provide the network’s national programming at the bottom of its list of bills to pay. It owes Democracy Now! and Free Speech Radio News (FSRN) more than $1 million. While Democracy Now! has enough resources to cushion the blow, Pacifica’s unpaid bills to Free Speech Radio News threaten its very existence.

FSRN was founded by freelance reporters protesting censorship at Pacifica the last time the network went off the rails. What started as a “strike cast” during the 1999-2001 Pacifica crisis later became an independent, worker-run collective producing news for Pacifica for over a decade.

“The idea that Pacifica will let this valuable news program die is shameful at best,” one FSRN correspondent told us. FSRN urgently needs to raise $40,000 this month to pay its contributors and stay on the air. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation at FSRN’s website.

We also encourage you to VIEW AND CIRCULATE this special video message supporting FSRN from Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now!

Recall ballots on their way, says Pacifica’s election supervisor

Ballots in the extremely long-awaited recall vote of Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg are due to mail sometime in the next week. That’s according to our last communication from election supervisor Matt Ward (though if they mail out later, it wouldn’t be the first time Pacifica blew a deadline. Under Pacifica’s own rules, these ballots should have been out by New Year’s Eve 2011!).

KPFA Local Station Board chair Margy Wilkinson described what she had been able to learn about the recall and elections planned for later this year at all five Pacifica stations, during a report to KPFA’s local board June 2. | LISTEN to Wilkinson (2 min audio)

We urge you to VOTE YES on the recall, which is endorsed by a long list of KPFA listeners and workers. In addition, please help SaveKPFA ensure that Pacifica conducts this vote fairly and impartially by contacting us when you receive your ballot and when you’ve voted. You’re supposed to get a ballot if you’re a KPFA member — meaning you gave $25 or more in a one-year period.