Network unites in emergency fundraiser for WBAI

When Superstorm Sandy hit New York, seawater reached up to the second floor of the building that houses Pacifica station WBAI in New York. The flooding ruined the building’s wiring and interrupted a fund drive at WBAI, leaving the station broke, homeless, and unable to raise money to get back on its feet. In a tremendous show of solidarity, all five Pacifica stations joined resources for a national day of fundraising to save WBAI on November 15th. The goal was to raise $150,000 to keep WBAI from going dark. The total raised surpassed $180,000.

wbai graphicThe emergency fundraiser was initiated by Letters and Politics host (and SaveKPFA endorser) Mitch Jeserich, who formerly worked on WBAI’s morning program. KPFA interim manager Andrew Phillips, who was formerly WBAI’s program director, executive-produced the broadcast. Pacifica interim executive director Summer Reese applied the political will necessary to get a national broadcast off the ground. SaveKPFA endorsers Laura Prives and Brian Edwards-Tiekert made major contributions to planning and executing the broadcast as well. KPFK in Los Angeles provided a fully-staffed call center to take the the pledges flooding in from around the country, and programmers from across the network contributed their very best to make the day a rousing success. Kudos to all involved!

Of course, WBAI suffers from deeper problems than Superstorm Sandy: it’s locked into unaffordable leases on its studios and transmitter site, running its fund drives far too long, reaching a fraction of the audience it should in a metropolis like New York, and racking up serious deficits. But the emergency fundraising effort initiated from KPFA will prevent WBAI from going dark immediately, and will hopefully lay the groundwork for permanently stabilizing the station. You can still make a contribution here.

Coming soon: the magnificent KPFA’s Crafts Fair!

Guitarist Teja Gerken will be performing on 12/9 at NOON!

KPFA’s 42nd annual Crafts Fair runs the weekend of December 8-9 this year, at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center, 8th and Brannan. See the Crafts Fair‘s page for transportation options, or check out the Facebook page to browse the offerings.

It’s KPFA’s biggest off-air fundraiser, and tons of fun to boot. Browse the crafts, listen to music, meet your favorite KPFA host, and chow down on good food.

Remember too: you can always check out other KPFA benefits, like the upcoming talk by writer David Cay Johnston, at SaveKPFA‘s attend a KPFA event page.

Honoring activism

van_jones_at_mario_savio

Van Jones.

Co-sponsored by KPFA, the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture is coming up on November 28 at UC Berkeley — tickets are free, but you have to get them in advance (see details here). This year’s speaker is progressive activist Van Jones, speaking on “Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How can we get there?”

The lecture honors the memory of the late Mario Savio, a spokesperson for Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement (1964), and the spirit of moral courage and vision which he and countless other activists of his generation exemplified.

The evening includes a presentation of the Mario Savio Young Activist Award, which recognizes young people engaged in the struggle to build a more humane and just society.

Why I’m Supporting SaveKPFA in KPFA’s Board Election

Brian Edwards-Tiekert speaking with listeners

By Brian Edwards-Tiekert

This month, KPFA is going through what will probably prove to be one of the most important elections of its 10-year experiment with democracy. I’m supporting the candidates listed at www.savekpfa.org, along with many other endorsers, because what’s at stake is the survival of KPFA as we know it.

Right now, KPFA is slowly recovering from a near-mortal blow. When Pacifica purged The Morning Show two years ago, it removed KPFA’s biggest fundraiser from the air. To compensate, the station had to increase the amount of days it spends in fund drives by 30%–a sure recipe for dropping listenership and diminishing pledge totals.

Then, Pacifica racked up hundreds of thousands in legal fees—some from the country’s most notoriously anti-union law firm, Jackson Lewis—and stuck KPFA with most of the bills.

Thanks to heroic fundraising efforts by KPFA’s staff, the generosity of KPFA listeners who kept donating, some of them under protest, and to a fortuitous bequest gift, we’ve made it this far—barely.

And, against the odds, we’ve started to re-build.

Thanks to our union, several of us won reinstatement after Pacifica’s purge. With support from local management, we launched UpFront—KPFA’s new 7:AM program. Since day one, we’ve been the station’s top fundraiser—and thanks to the boost in morning fundraising, KPFA’s fund drives are now raising more money per day, and ending sooner. Meanwhile:

  • ·A SaveKPFA campaign forced Pacifica to ditch Jackson Lewis—which should prevent further inflated legal bills.
  • ·Another SaveKPFA campaign fended off a move by Pacifica management to impose another disastrous round of cuts on KPFA.
  • ·Now, the Pacifica National Board has apparently seen the light—they decided to let go of the two executives who carried out the Morning Show purge in the first place.

KPFA is still extremely fragile, but we are headed in the right direction. And that is largely thanks to the fact that we’ve had SaveKPFA boardmembers supporting us every step of the way.

The dividing line on KPFA’s board is this: austerity vs. growth.

On the growth side: SaveKPFA thinks the way to build KPFA is by building great programs that attract large audiences so there are more people to give come pledge drive. We already know what success looks like: KPFA’s two newest daily programs, Letters and Politics and UpFront, are also its two largest fundraisers, bringing in far more than they cost to produce. Together, those two hours account for over a third of KPFA’s fundraising. Building on those successes with more cutting-edge programming is the key to strengthening KPFA.

As for austerity: this year, its champions are calling themselves “United for Community Radio.” Of course, they never use the word “austerity” – but rest assured, when you hear them call for “financial responsibility” and “supporting unpaid staff”, it translates to firing KPFA’s unionized programmers and parceling out the airtime to their allies. Some of them are philosophically opposed to paying people to produce daily shows–they’d rather KPFA sound like a volunteer-run local-access cable station. Others have axes to grind with specific programmers on KPFA’s payroll, and use the station’s finances as a pretext – which is how The Morning Show got targeted, despite the fact that it was the station’s biggest fundraiser.

Their incumbents have had two years to prove exactly what they stand for. When our union protested impending cuts, they came to counter-protest. When Pacifica fired the entire staff of The Morning Show, they supported it (at least one of them, it turned out, had been pushing behind closed doors to have Pacifica cut us).  When Pacifica hired the nation’s most notorious union-busting law firm to fight us, they publicly defended it. When KPFA’s local management proposed a balanced, no-cuts budget, they boycotted a meeting to block its passage – even though KPFA was running a surplus.

Does that mean everyone running on their ticket supports more of the same? Not necessarily. There are a lot of new faces in the election this year, and they don’t all necessarily understand what they’ve signed up for. But the first thing they’ll do once they’re on KPFA’s Local Board is vote to send their slate-mates to the Pacifica National Board, where the real power lies. And those slate-mates will make their worst decisions behind closed doors in Executive Session meetings, where there’s very little accountability.

Again, the record speaks for itself: For four years, the “United for Community Radio” (UCR, ICR) precursor slates have been in a majority coalition on the Pacifica National Board. They, and the executives they’ve installed, have left Pacifica a hollowed-out wreck: with millions in unpaid bills, corporate law firms baying at the door, a finance office now incapable of handling even simple payroll transactions, workers’ own contributions to their retirement accounts undeposited (for several months now), donor checks meant for KPFA intercepted and kept away from the station for months.

Now is the chance to turn things around: Next year’s boards will choose a new manager and program director for KPFA, as well as a new Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for Pacifica. It’s a chance to put the entire Pacifica network on the right track – if SaveKPFA scores a solid win.

KPFA elections have low turnout, and tend to be decided by relatively small margins, which means every vote counts a lot. Please spread the word to KPFA members to vote for the candidates listed at savekpfa.org. And if you’re a voter yourself, return your ballot now so you don’t forget.

For the first election ever, Pacifica is not allowing any in-person ballot drop-offs—you have to mail your ballot.  That ballot has to arrive at the ballot-counting location in New York by December 11. It will be competing with holiday mail traffic to get there, so send it now.

Brian Edwards-Tiekert is co-host of KPFA’s UpFront, which airs weekday mornings at 7:AM. He’s served two terms as a worker-elected representative on the KPFA Local Station Board. [This essay originally appeared in Fog City Journal.]

KPFA’s future is on the line: VOTE!

savekpfa election postcard smallBallots in the 2012 election for listener representatives to KPFA’s Local Station Board are on their way. Pacifica has reported to SaveKPFA they were mailed from New York November 6, and listeners can expect to see them landing in their mailboxes very soon. [If you don’t get a ballot by Nov 13, request a duplicate from Pacifica’s Election Services company at 1-866-720-4357. Ballots are due back Dec 11.]

This is your chance to support smart and responsible leadership on KPFA’s local board. Endorsers of SaveKPFA‘s candidates include Mitch Jeserich, KPFA’s Letters & Politics; Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing, Kris Welch, Living Room; Brian Edwards-Tiekert, KPFA’s Upfront; Rashidah Grinage, founder of PUEBLO; Dr. Raye Richardson, founder, Oakland’s Marcus Books; Sasha Lilley, KPFA’s Against the Grain; Donald Goldmacher, co-director, Heist; Larry Bensky, former Pacifica national correspondent; Dr. Carlos Muñoz, Jr., Ethnic Studies, UCB; Ying Lee, Asian Americans for Peace & Justice; Philip Maldari, Sunday Show; Al Young, former Calif. State Poet Laureate, and many more. | SEE COMPLETE ENDORSERS’ LIST

SaveKPFA‘s candidates are Craig Alderson, Paula Errkila, Jose Luis Fuentes-Roman, Kate Gowen, Mark Hernandez, Dan Siegel, Carole Travis, Barbara Whipperman and Burton White. Between them, they have a wealth of background in radio, nonprofit administration, fundraising, labor, grassroots organizing and movement building. They come from the Bay Area and beyond, all enthusiastic KPFA listeners who want to make a positive difference.

PLEASE NOTE: vote for all 9 SaveKPFA candidates, ranking them from 1 to 9 in the order you prefer — or if you’d rather not decide on a ranking, give all 9 candidates a ranking of “1.”

HERE’S ARE OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP: First, circulate this election flyer (PDF) and/or postcard (JPG) to friends, and urge them to vote for all 9 SaveKPFA candidates. Or ask friends to visit www.SaveKPFA.org or call (510) 969-9373 to learn more. Second, we understand the ballots were sent by Pacifica in plain white envelopes with few distinguishing markings, so please watch for yours, and let us know when you receive it.

Marked ballots must be received at the New York collection address by December 11 to be counted. Given Post Office cuts, storm-related problems and the holiday mail, please return the ballot ASAP to make sure your vote counts!

SaveKPFA‘s election platform, What We Stand For, includes: • Restore local control at KPFA • Ensure high quality, progressive programming • Respect KPFA’s listeners • Support KPFA’s staff • Require transparency and accountability from Pacifica.

QUESTIONS? Email us at votesavekpfa@gmail.com or call 510-969-9373.

Why this vote matters

Dan Siegel“The result of these elections could determine whether Pacifica survives or continues its slide into bankruptcy,” writes Pacifica National Board member and SaveKPFA activist Dan Siegel in Counterpunch.

“Pacifica has always been fractious, back to when KPFA was founded as its first station in 1949,” he continues, going on to describe the network’s current leadership as “inept and politically sectarian.” That leadership, he writes, “has brought the Foundation to its knees. It has spent down all its reserves, incurring cumulative deficits of $5.7 million in the last four fiscal years, according to its 2012 audit report.” | READ Siegel’s article and this overview of Pacifica’s audit

Keep our station afloat: benefits, KPFA crafts fair

One of the unfortunate consequences of the election is that on-air reminders of upcoming KPFA benefit events are being crowded out by candidates’ statements and other election notices.

Remember that the annual KPFA Crafts Fair (the station’s single biggest off-air fundraiser) is scheduled for December 8-9, and that there are several KPFA benefit events on the horizon. These are important ways to raise money for our radio station.