Protect local control. In 2014, SaveKPFA led the effort that put KPFA back under the control of locally-hired management for the first time in 5 years — resulting in the recruitment of a talented General Manager, and a permanent Program Director hired by, and accountable to, KPFA’s elected local board.
Ensure high-quality, progressive programming . In 2010, SaveKPFA campaigned to reverse Pacifica’s cancellation of KPFA’s most listened-to local program, The Morning Show; in 2012, we supported the launch of UpFront, restoring local programming to KPFA’s morning lineup
Support staff and volunteers. SaveKPFA led the successful fight to reverse Pacifica’s 2011 hiring of the nation’s top union-busting law firm; SaveKPFA members have also raised money to update aging equipment in KPFA’s studios, and established a training fund for volunteer staff in KPFA’s budget.
Transparency and accountability from Pacifica . SaveKPFA’s representatives on the Pacifica National Board are part of a new majority that has begun issuing regular financial statements for the first time in nearly three years, dramatically shrunk Pacifica’s deficit (from -$2.8 million in 2013 to a small surplus in the 12 months ending in June 2015), and rationalized (and lowered) the dues that stations like KPFA pay to Pacifica’s National Office.
Experiment with new shows; expand into new platforms. Under SaveKPFA leadership, KPFA budgeted for, and carried out, a re-design of its website that makes it more accessible on mobile devices–which is where more and more radio listeners are turning to get their favority shows. KPFA has also started using its second signal, KPFB, to pilot 20 hours of programming per week from new, energetic producers.
Reform Pacifica’s Byzantine Governance System. We believe Pacifica’s acrimonious boards have generated many of its problems. SaveKPFA participated in cross-factional dialogue talks this year, and now endorses the Pacifica Unity Pledge, which commits us to participating in a network-wide consensus-building process with the goal of making Pacifica’s governance system simpler, effective, smaller, and calmer.
Candidates endorsed by SaveKPFA:
(see also individual endorsers)
Click on each name to read candidate statement
Margy Wilkinson served as Chair of KPFA’s Local Station Board from 2011-2012, Chair of the Pacifica National Board in 2014 and 2015, and as Pacifica’s volunteer Interim Executive Director for nearly a year. She is a lifelong activist and organizer, and served as the chief rank-and-file bargainer for a union representing over 17,000 employees in the University of California system.
Sasha Futran is a community activist who served on KPFA’s local board from 2006-12, serving as Chair in 2010. In the past, she’s worked as a journalist in print and broadcasting, mostly for alternative newspapers and public radio and TV.
Barbara Whipperman has served as Treasurer of KPFA’s Local Station Board from 2011-2015, fighting for local control over KPFA’s finances — and eventually winning!
William Campisi is an attorney who represents injured patients in claims against doctors and hospitals; he was also a volunteer at KPFA in the 1970s.
David Lynch is a software engineer, compulsive podcast listener, and staunch supporter of the KPFA news team.
Leland Thompson is an Oakland native, a professional leadership coach, and a black independent business owner committed to improving KPFA’s fundraising and growing its audience.
Yuri Gottesman worked in the labor movement for more than 8 years, first as an organizer, then as an attorney. He now operates a small business in Berkeley teaching test preparation to adults.
Hilmon Sorey has spent the last 15 years as a consultant building non-profits and businesses in the Bay Area, including leading advertising, events and circulation at what was (at the time) the fastest-growing newspaper in the Bay Area. He also serves as Chair of Oakland’s Museum of Children’s Arts.
But to get them elected, we’ll need your vote, and that means you’ll need a ballot.
To be eligible to vote, you have to have given at least $25 to KPFA in the year ending this Tuesday, July 14.
Not sure whether your last donation was recent enough? The best way to make sure you get a ballot is to donate right now at https://secure.kpfa.org/support/
We’ve made great progress, but we need your help to keep it up
SaveKPFA came together as an organization devoted to supporting KPFA’s paid and unpaid staff, securing local control of our radio station, winning accountability and transparency from Pacifica (the nonprofit corporation that owns KPFA), and getting terrific programming onto the air.
We won control of KPFA’s Local Board the same year that Pacifica’s then-leadership sidelined KPFA’s listeners and local management by canceling KPFA’s much-loved Morning Show, and attempting to purge its staff.
Since then, we’ve changed the leadership at Pacifica, helped repair KPFA’s morning lineup, recruited permanent, stable management for KPFA, and started to stabilize Pacifica’s financial problems. Check out our history at saveKPFA.org.
That work has finally resulted in real progress at KPFA: our station launched a spiffy new website this spring that’s optimized for use on mobile devices (where larger and larger numbers of people are getting their media). Management freed up space for new voices by piloting 20 hours of new programming on its second signal, KPFB. And, finally, KPFA has started to shrink the length of its fund drives. (Just last week, KPFA General Manager Quincy McCoy announced we’re able to cancel KPFA’s Summer Fund Drive–for the first time in 15 years!)
Everything we’ve achieved over the past several years has been made possible by thousands of mobilized listeners like you: who turned out at demonstrations to win back control of KPFA, who dug deep during fund drives when KPFA was on the brink, and who delivered landslide victories to SaveKPFA in successive listener elections.
If you support that progress — and you’d like to see more — show your support and secure your ballot by donating NOW at https://secure.kpfa.org/support.
In early April, Pacifica Radio, the nonprofit which runs KPFA, announced the hire of a new permanent executive director: John Gladney Proffitt.
From the official release: “Proffitt comes to Pacifica with extensive experience in public radio management, including twenty-five years as general manager and C.E.O. of the NPR station in Houston, KUHF 88.7 FM. During his tenure at KUHF, Proffitt led the station through continuous, steady growth of audience and community support, including major philanthropic cultivation, all characterized by balanced budgets and fiscal stability. Since leaving KUHF, he has been a volunteer fundraiser at Pacifica’s Houston station, KPFT, along with co-hosting the Thresholds and Open Journal programs there.”
Public records indicate KUHF had an annual budget of $8 million by the time Proffitt departed — about three-quarters the size of Pacifica, including all five stations it owns. Proffitt is scheduled to start work on May 11.
For the past eight months, Pacifica’s acting executive director has been board chair Margy Wilkinson, a member of SaveKPFA. She’s been serving on a volunteer basis to save the network money. “We’ve spent much of the past year stabilizing Pacifica after a turbulent time,” she said of Proffitt’s hire. “Bringing on permanent, experienced leadership is the next step.”
During Wilkinson’ tenure, Pacifica dramatically shrunk its deficits (more on that below), settled claims from more than a dozen debt collectors, beat off a lawsuit from the supporters of former executive Summer Reese, and completed a long-overdue independent financial audit of its books.
Financial update on Pacifica and KPFA
Last summer, SaveKPFA reported on the dire state of finances at Pacifica, the nonprofit that owns KPFA. After being locked out of the network’s National Office for two months by ousted executive Summer Reese, Pacifica’s new CFO Raul Salvador and board chair Margy Wilkinson found an operation in disarray: bookkeeping entries had not been made for nine months, and there were unpaid bills lying in large, unorganized stacks, some of which were apparently slated to be shredded until Wilkinson intervened.
In March, Pacifica finally produced a long-overdue independent financial audit for that period. The numbers are worse than we had previously reported: according to the audit for fiscal year 2013, Pacifica ran a deficit of more than $2.8 million — the organization’s largest loss on record.
Since then, the figures show a steady recovery. According to SaveKPFA‘s Brian Edwards-Tiekert, who is currently chairing the Pacifica National Board’s Finance Committee: “According to preliminary figures produced by Pacifica’s Chief Financial Officer, Pacifica’s deficit dropped to $1 million in FY2014,” [editor’s note: Reese was still in control of Pacifica for the first 6 months of 2014, and illegally barricaded herself in the National Office for an additional two months]. Edwards-Tiekert said that “the figures for FY 2015 show Pacifica as a whole on a break-even trajectory after five months. If we get CPB funds reinstated this spring, we should post a healthy surplus.”
Leading the rest of the network: KPFA. Thanks to an incredible response from listeners when the station was facing a cash crunch in December, and a fortuitous bequest that arrived in March, KPFA is outperforming its budget by nearly $400,000 — enough to replenish the station’s operating reserves.
KPFA launches new website, seeks shorter fund drives
The new site boasts a major visual upgrade, better tools for programmers to post information about the guests and topics in their broadcasts, an optimized interface for mobile phones (which is how a growing number of people listen to radio), and integrated social media tools. In an email to listeners, McCoy wrote that “this interactive website will allow more off-air fund raising campaigns, which leads to less on-air pledge drives, which means fewer interruptions to quality programming.”
McCoy told station staff that KPFA will be launching an online fundraising campaign on April 7 with the goal of raising $100,000 to pay for long-neglected building repairs and improvements at KPFA’s studios in downtown Berkeley. If the campaign exceeds goals, the station may be able to shrink or eliminate its summer fund drive.
KPFA co-founder Richard O. Moore passes at 95
Last week also saw the passage of the first voice ever to present a program on KPFA: Richard O. Moore. Moore was a pacifist, a poet, a dancer, and a close associate of Kenneth Rexroth, whom he convinced to deliver a series of acclaimed ad-libbed monologues that helped establish the early identity of KPFA. He went on to become one of the first staffers at KQED public television and, later, a highly-accomplished director of documentaries on everything from Fidel Castro‘s Cuba to the status of black youth in San Francisco.
After retiring, Moore rededicated himself to poetry. His latest selection of poetry, Particulars of Place, is due to be published this month.
As 2014 comes to a close, we want to strongly encourage you to go above and beyond with a year-end donation to KPFA at www.kpfa.org.
The bad news first: KPFA is in a precarious financial position. Our radio station currently does not have enough money in hand to pay its bills through the start of its next fund drive.
But there is also plenty of good news: those who got our radio station into this situation are gone, and there is more cause for hope about KPFA than there has been in many, many years. Here is a quick trip through the whirlwind that was 2014.
Transition and tumult
In February, a new majority took their seats on the national board of Pacifica, the nonprofit that owns KPFA. In short order, that new majority elected SaveKPFA‘s Margy Wilkinson, a member of KPFA’s Local Station Board and a former rank-and-file union activist, to serve as its chair.
In March, the new board voted to oust Pacifica’s then-executive director, Summer Reese, amid serious concerns about mismanagement. Reese had been chair of the board when Pacifica killed KPFA’s Morning Show and attempted to purge its staff. When she moved into the role of executive director, Reese led the network into a $2.2 million deficit, and presided over the loss of over $1 million per year in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Reese did not leave easily: after receiving notice of her termination, she broke into her former offices, barricaded herself in, and didn’t leave until Oakland-based civil rights attorney Dan Siegel secured Pacifica a court order forcing her to depart. | READ the legal case and background
With Reese gone, and a new, more able and supportive leadership led by Wilkinson in control of the Pacifica network, KPFA is making rapid progress towards sustainability.
A new day for KPFA
In May, KPFA introduced Uprising with Sonali Kolhatkar at 8 AM — a bid to heal some of the damage that had been done to KPFA’s morning lineup with the purge of the Morning Show. In short order, Uprising became a top fundraiser for the station.
In June, KPFA announced the hire of a new permanent general manager — a process that Reese and her predecessor at Pacifica had stalled for three years, allowing them to impose a series of “interim” managers selected without any input from KPFA’s elected local board.
The hire was Quincy McCoy, a veteran broadcaster and nonprofit manager who most recently turned around the ailing Oakland Children’s Museum. He responded to the financial crisis with sacrifice (one of his first acts was to reduce his own salary), and vision — he started a redesign of KPFA’s website to help the station move more of its fundraising outside of traditional fund drives.
In October, KPFA’s board and manager announced the hire of a new permanent program director — the first one in 15 years. The hire was Laura Prives, former executive producer of the Morning Show, and a founding producer of KPFA’s two most successful program launches in recent memory: Letters and Politics and UpFront.
Meanwhile, the new leadership at Pacifica was at work trying to get the rest of the network back on track.
The race to fix Pacifica
In July, Pacifica chair Margy Wilkinson (who also serves as Pacifica’s acting executive director while the board searches for a permanent hire) went to work cutting national costs to lower the burden that the network places on the stations it owns. Wilkinson started with herself: she’s doing what is traditionally the most highly-compensated job in the network — as a volunteer.
In August, Pacifica published its first financial statements in nearly a year, revealing a staggering $2.2 million deficit, a quarter million dollars in undeposited tax withholdings, and pension contributions three years in arrears.
In September, progressive philanthropist (and longtime Pacifica fan) Aris Anagnos extended a zero-interest, no-collateral loan to restructure Pacifica’s most pressing debt — unpaid taxes.
By November, thanks to cost cuts at a national level, Pacifica’s board passed a new budgeting formula that lowers the amount of money stations like KPFA pay to support Pacifica’s National Office.
By December, Pacifica had restarted its own long-neglected off-air fundraising initiatives, including a direct mail campaign endorsed by Ralph Nader and Amy Goodman.
Also in December, Pacifica signed off on a plan to relocate its Washington station, WPFW — which has spent more than a year stuck on a month-to-month lease in a facility unsuitable for 24-hour broadcasting. The new space is larger but affordable, already built into studios, guaranteed for at least four years, and comes with an allowance of nearly $130,000 for improvements.
Meanwhile, Wilkinson says there has been slow but steady progress on a plan to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in transmitter rent for New York station WBAI — the network’s most-distressed signal.
Wilkinson also reports, that as of January 1, Pacifica expects to be able to demonstrate a full quarter’s compliance with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting rules, over which the network lost more than $1 million in funding under the previous administration, which will clear the path for Pacifica stations to get that funding reinstated some time in 2015.
The rocky road ahead
In mid-December, California’s Attorney General began an audit covering the past several years of mismanagement at Pacifica — a period in which previous network officials left Pacifica’s records in complete disarray. Complying with the Attorney General’s request will burden a staff already stretched to the breaking point by cleaning up the financial and administrative crisis left by previous Pacifica executives, but Wilkinson insists that every effort will be made to supply the Attorney General with everything that office requires.
So far, the best efforts of Pacifica’s new leadership have slowed the bleeding, but not stopped it. Money will be tighter than ever until the network gets funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting reinstated. And the sheer volume of unpaid bills accumulated over the past several years is so staggering that it could put Pacifica — and stations like KPFA — out of business before then.
What you can do
The next few months will make or break KPFA and Pacifica. There is much to fear, but also much cause for hope.
If there’s one thing recent history has shown, it’s the value of an alternative news source like KPFA. Station staff report they saw listenership surge twice in the past six months. First, during KPFA’s coverage of the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip; second, during KPFA’s coverage of the protests that erupted in the wake of grand jury decisions not to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
In times of crisis, we depend on KPFA. It is our New Year’s wish that in its time of crisis, KPFA can depend on you. If there is only one time in your life that you give a big gift to KPFA, make that gift now at www.kpfa.org.
In hope and solidarity,
Your friends at SaveKPFA
Thanks to all who donated so generously to the station’s winter fund drive, which ended today with $335,000 pledged. That’s only $25,000 short of the goal.
Please consider making an end-of-the-year, tax deductible gift to help put KPFA over the top. You can pledge securely online at KPFA.org, and while you are there, have a look at the colorful new graphics that are enlivening the station’s webspace.
Meanwhile, supporters of all five Pacifica stations are receiving this letter from Ralph Nader urging them to help the network “remain a vibrant and sustainable source of information that serves the public interest and our diverse communities.” Among other things, Nader cites Pacifica’s “eclectic mix of programming that educates and empowers for change.”
Also endorsing the call for support is Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, who is quoted on the letter’s envelope: “The Pacifica Network is a vital cornerstone of our independent media landscape that depends on your financial support. Please donate today to safeguard the future of listener-powered community radio.”
KPFA lost two long-time programmers last month. Denny Smithson, who worked at the station for 47 years, much of it interviewing authors about their work, died November 1. KPFA’s website has this photo of Denny in the studio and a link to the obituary that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.
On November 29, Mary Berg, long-time host of the crack o’ dawn early music show, A Musical Offering, died. Former KPFA music director Charles Amirkhanian and morning host Bill Sokol write about her here. Both Mary and Denny will be greatly missed.
From economics professor Richard Wolff, to philosopher Cornel West portraying Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, KPFA has begun announcing its 2015 line-up of talks and events. Check ’em out.
And with Cuba in the news, the fascinating photo at right surfaced of KPFA’s own unsung hero Bob Baldock, who has produced KPFA events for over two decades. Learn more about Bob’s remarkable life in this 2011 interview he did with Sasha Lilley on KPFA’s Against the Grain.
After a year-long search for a program director initiated by KPFA’s elected Local Station Board, KPFA general manager Quincy McCoy has announced he’s promoting long-time KPFA producer Laura Prives to the position
Prives began volunteering in KPFA’s News Department in 2003, on the day the US began bombing Iraq. Later, she moved to the Morning Show, where she worked her way up to executive producer. She helped launch two of KPFA’s most successful new programs: Letters and Politics with Mitch Jeserich, and UpFront with Brian Edwards-Tiekert. Currently, she’s working as a producer on both of those programs and Hard Knock Radio. Previously, she had worked as a DJ at KALX, and a researcher at the Federal Reserve.
“Laura has been one of KPFA’s unsung heroes for years,” said local board treasurer, Barbara Whipperman, a member of SaveKPFA. “Everyone she has worked with knows her incredible work ethic, sharp ear for good radio, and cool head under pressure — which is exactly what KPFA needs right now.”
According to an all-staff memo, Prives will assume her new duties on November 2. KPFA has been without a permanent program director for nearly 15 years.
“When we won elections for KPFA’s Local Station Board, we hoped to help bring competent, stable leadership to the station,” said Whipperman. KPFA completed the long-delayed hire of a general manager in June, when it hired Quincy McCoy.
Meanwhile, KPFA’s FALL FUND DRIVE is underway, raising desperately needed funds. This drive has an additional goal of “refreshing” KPFA by raising money to overhaul KPFA’s website and make it a better tool for distributing programs and raising money off-air. Please show your support now by pledging at www.kpfa.org.
All are welcome at the next KPFA Local Station Board meeting, which is scheduled for Saturday, October 18 from 11am to 4 pm at 100 Oak Street in Oakland (that’s the SEIU Local 1021 office). You can find details, including an agenda here.
And don’t miss KPFA’s legendary Crafts Fair scheduled for the weekend of December 20-21. The fair is returning to the East Bay after 20 years in San Francisco, to the stunning Craneway Pavilion on the Richmond waterfront. Be there!