SaveKPFA is supporting 7 extremely well-qualified candidates for KPFA’s Local Station Board — Margy Wilkinson, Sasha Futran, Barbara Whipperman, William Campisi, David Lynch, Leland Thompson and Yuri Gottesman. | READ MORE at SaveKPFA.org.
SOME ENDORSERS INCLUDE: KPFA hosts Larry Bensky, Sasha Lilley, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, David Gans, Bonnie Simmons, Philip Maldari, Lewis Sawyer and Kris Welch; professors Rashid Khalidi, Dana Frank and Barbara Epstein; veteran civil rights activist Dr. Raye Richardson; authors Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, David Bacon, Steve Early and Bill Ayers; FSM movement leader Lynne Hollander Savio. | SEE THE ENDORSER LIST & ADD YOUR NAME by sending us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org (include how you’d like to be identified).
The challenges facing our network are great, but when we look over SaveKPFA‘s recent accomplishments, there is cause for hope.
Under our leadership, KPFA has begun to help some of its sister stations with their problems (loaning money to KPFT for a transmitter upgrade that broadcast to a larger area; providing other stations technical assistance with budgeting), but it has become clear that the factionalized atmosphere inside Pacifica makes it impossible to have frank discussions about hard choices facing us as a network.
How KPFA shrank its pledge drives
KPFA is in the midst of what is planned to be its shortest Fall Fund Drive in at least three years – this, after running its shortest Spring Fund Drive in at least 5 years, and eliminating its Summer Fund Drive altogether. Help the station keep things moving forward by donating right now!
For years, under previous leadership at Pacifica, KPFA responded to every financial shock it experienced — the loss of funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the elimination of KPFA’s biggest fundraiser, the Morning Show, etc. – by increasing the length and frequency of its pledge drives. That meant long, frequent fund drives that tended to drive listeners away, and eventually produced a downward spiral of shrinking audience and diminishing returns on fundraising.
Changing courseLast fall, KPFA finally got a locally-hired permanent management team in place. Almost immediately, general manager Quincy McCoy and program director Laura Prives went to work on changing the way KPFA raises money.
First, they completed an overhaul of KPFA’s website, to expand the number of tools KPFA has for raising grassroots support outside of conventional fund drives. Income received through KPFA’s website increased more than 170%. Then, they worked with veteran KPFA events organizer Jan Etre to launch the KPFA Summer Arts Fair, which was profitable in its very first year.
McCoy and Prives also started using 60-second on-air announcements to encourage KPFA listeners to give through other channels — like KPFA’s Car Donation Program, which saw giving spike this summer. Most significantly, KPFA received windfall income from two long-time supporters who put our station in their wills through KPFA’s Planned Giving program.
Meanwhile, KPFA’s leadership has been working toward more-achievable fund drive goals by slowly making judicious expense cuts: returning to a volunteer-staffed phone room, streamlining the station’s shift schedule, closing an open position, and negotiating a less-expensive medical plan with KPFA’s staff union — all of which helped KPFA shrink its fund drives still further.
It’s paying off! Figures from KPFA’s staff show that pledges during the first week of this year’s Fall Fund Drive are up an astonishing 70% from the year before. If you agree that KPFA is headed in the right direction, then send a message of support by making a pledge right now.
What we avoided: KPFK’s difficulties
To see the pitfalls of hyper-extended fund drives, sadly, KPFA didn’t have to look any further than its sister station, KPFK in Los Angeles. In late 2014, after a new, SaveKPFA-supported leadership at Pacifica started issuing regular financial statements for the first time in years, it became clear that KPFK had been operating at a loss, and was starting to pile up unpaid bills.
Initially, KPFK responded by extending its fund drives. Predictably, the amount KPFK raised per day of fundraising started dropping. By April, it had to call an emergency fund drive to raise an additional $300,000. Barely a month later, the station was back to fundraising again. By mid-summer KPFK couldn’t make payroll, and had to borrow money from KPFA.
Now, KPFK is facing stiff, disruptive cuts. One of its first cost-saving measures was an across-the-board reduction in the hours of full-time employees. This prompted the cancellation of the television version of Uprising, a program by Sonali Kolhatkar which is produced at KPFK, the radio version of which also runs on KPFA. Kolhatkar reports via social media that she’ll continue to produce the radio version that KPFA airs five days per week, even at reduced pay. Because of a dispute with local management in Los Angeles, however, KPFA may be the only station airing some of those broadcasts.
The rest of the network — and what’s next
Most of the other parts of the five-station Pacifica Radio network are in varying degrees of financial distress, contributing to a crunch that has delayed scheduled board elections for lack of money to send ballots. Currently, the elections are planned to resume with a ballot mailing on October 15.
That’s why SaveKPFA has joined a broad community dialogue with the goal of initiating a consensus-building process to overhaul the way Pacifica’s fractious governance system operates. We support the Pacifica Unity Pledge that has come out of those talks, and encourage everyone else involved with Pacifica governance to do the same.