Ralph Nader and Amy Goodman urge support for Pacifica network

KPFA graphic

New KPFA web graphics.

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.”

 

Long-time programmers Denny Smithson and Mary Berg pass

MaryBerg

Mary Berg

Denny Smithson

Denny Smithson

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.

Mark your calendars for talks and films in the new year

Bob Baldock in Cuba, 1958

Bob Baldock (right), Fidel Castro and Bill McIver (left) in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountains in 1958.

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.

 

KPFA’s new program director: Laura Prives

Laura Prives

Laura Prives

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.

Mark your calendars: LSB meeting & KPFA Crafts Fair

kpfa crafts fairAll 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!

Pacifica: putting the pieces back together

pacifica logoLast month, we reported on the dire state of the books at Pacifica, the nonprofit that owns KPFA. Pacifica’s new CFO Raul Salvador and board chair Margy Wilkinson (a member of SaveKPFA) found an operation in disarray, after being locked out of the network’s National Office next door to KPFA for two months by ousted executive Summer Reese. Bookkeeping entries had not been made for nine months, and there were unpaid bills lying in large, unorganized stacks, some of which were slated to be shredded until Wilkinson intervened.

After weeks spent reconstructing financial data, Pacifica’s new staff have now issued the most complete network financial statements since Pacifica’s 2012 audit.

Stiffing pension to pay consultants

moneyThere was massive overspending at the National Office, which, according to a report from Pacifica National Finance Committee chair Brian Edwards-Tiekert “produced the largest loss the Pacifica National Office has posted since the height of Pacifica’s civil war in 2001.”

Adding injury to injury: while last year’s leadership was running up large bills with temp agencies, consultants, and law firms, they were skipping payments to the pension fund for Pacifica workers, and holding on to payroll taxes that were supposed to go to the IRS.

The good news: the overspending and deficits appear to have leveled out. So far this year, the network is basically breaking even, and there are more savings on the horizon. If Pacifica is able to restore its eligibility for Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding, it should run a healthy surplus. (CPB funding was suspended in 2013 over compliance issues, cutting the network’s revenues by over $1 million per year). | READ financial report, Excel financial spreadsheets (balance sheets, income statements, consolidated monthly sheet)

Crisis management

The biggest challenge facing Pacifica’s new leadership are the angry creditors they have inherited from the Reese era — several of which have initiated lawsuits.

But there is progress on this front as well: new interim executive director Margy Wilkinson negotiated a 21-month interest-free payment plan with an attorney who had been suing Pacifica over unpaid bills. And in early September, the Pacifica National Board voted to approve a 0% interest loan of $156,000 to cover an unpaid tax bill it inherited and head off further penalties. The loan comes from Aris Anagnos, co-founder of the Los Angeles Peace Center and the Humanitarian Law Project, as well as a long-time supporter of Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles. (You can learn more about Anagnos by listening to this interview with him on KPFK). Anagnos had asked that the discussion of the loan and his name both be made public — to inspire other major supporters to join him in helping Pacifica through its current difficulties.

Now that Pacifica’s financial records are getting cleaned up, Wilkinson reports that it’s getting easier to push back on some claims by creditors. Recently, she talked down a vendor threatening to sue over money Pacifica had already paid.

Still unresolved is the money owed to Pacifica’s pension fund, and lawsuits over unpaid bills, including one from a temp agency Pacifica used heavily last year, and another from Free Speech Radio News, which was forced off the air in mid-2013 after Pacifica stopped making payments for its daily newscast.

RELATED STORIES:  Fixing Pacifica (includes financial report) | Lawyer representing board minority jumps ship | Finally, local control at KPFA

KPFA’s new general manager: Quincy McCoy

Quincy McCoy

Quincy McCoy

After years of interim management, KPFA will finally have a permanent general manager: Quincy McCoy, a radio veteran with 30 years of experience in a diverse range of positions.

Pacifica issued this press release with the news, noting that McCoy currently serves as executive director of the Museum of Children’s Arts in Oakland, having previously worked as chief of operations for Salon Studio at Salon.com and vice president of Radio for MTV Networks and Rhapsody America. McCoy was also on the board of Youth Radio International, and published No Static: A Guide to Creative Radio Programming (2002).

Pacifica’s interim executive director Bernard Duncan chose McCoy from a pool of candidates put forward by KPFA’s Local Station Board (LSB), as per Pacifica’s bylaws. Duncan said McCoy’s “combination of experience and personal attributes is rare, and we are pleased to see him move KPFA through the next successful phase of its development as a key component in the Bay Area’s media landscape.”

Duncan announced late last week he will be moving back to his native New Zealand; Pacifica will begin a search to replace him. Interim KPFA general manager Richard Pirodsky will continue to serve as iGM of KPFK in Los Angeles.

New programming a hit, permanent KPFA manager expected to be appointed soon

With this spring’s new majority on the Pacifica National Board and Reese’s ouster last month, the network is moving forward once again.

uprisingAfter special broadcasts of Sonali Kolhatkar‘s Uprising Radio pushed KPFA’s spring fund drive far above its goal, the station’s interim general manager Richard Pirodsky added the program to KPFA’s morning lineup at 8am, following the very popular UpFront with Brian Edwards-Tiekert at 7am. Along with Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! at 9am, and Mitch Jeserich’s Letters & Politics at 10am, the drive time programming has been overwhelmingly popular with listeners, and is important in giving the station a sound financial footing, at a time when it one of the few of the five Pacifica-owned stations not in the red. The Morning Mix hosts are now broadcasting in the afternoon.

If you haven’t yet, please drop KPFA’s manager, Richard Pirodsky, a thank you note at richard@kpfa.org, and cc us at votesavekpfa@gmail.com.

Word is that the new interim executive director appointed by the national board, Bernard Duncan, is on the verge of announcing a new permanent KPFA general manager for KPFA from among three finalists.

Staff and community members who were introduced to these finalists during a “meet and greet” session in May have described each of them as “excellent,” “outstanding” and “promising.” This exciting development is long overdue. The Local Station Board chose the finalists and submitted their names back in November 2013 to Pacifica’s then-interim executive director, who failed to fulfill her obligation hire one.

“After an era period of transient managers and interference by Pacifica administrators with their own agendas,” said Local Station Board secretary Craig Alderson, “we’re now looking forward to a permanent general manager, vetted by local representatives, who will actually be able to address the KPFA’s critical issues instead of just treading water. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

Pacifica broadcaster Sonali Kolhatkar joins AM up; KPFA pledge drive over the top!

sonali_pub_shotKPFA announced today that award-winning Pacifica programmer Sonali Kolhatkar will bring her Uprising Radio to our station each week day from 8-9am. Kolhatkar is co-host of KPFA’s 7 a.m. drive-time program UpFront, with Brian Edwards-Tiekert. She also produces Uprising Radio on KPFA’s sister station KPFK in Los Angeles.

In a statement sent widely to listeners, interim general manager of KPFA and KPFK, Richard Pirodsky said, “This week’s broadcast of Uprising Radio on KPFA and KPFK during our spring on-air fund drive has produced spectacular results. We’re pleased to bring Sonali’s smart, progressive program to KPFA’s airwaves – and to know that listeners will respond during our fund drive.”

Kolkathar also welcomed the move, saying in the statement that she was “thrilled that Uprising is expanding to KPFA and will strive to live up to the high standards that Pacifica listeners expect from their beloved station!”

Kolhatkar program is also expanding to national television via Free Speech TV, starting in July. KPFA’s statement reads: “The broadcast of Uprising Radio on KPFA is but the latest collaboration between the Pacifica ‘Left Coast’ stations KPFA-Berkeley and KPFK-Los Angeles. The popular Letters and Politics produced at KPFA by Mitch Jeserich airs on KPFK and the News Departments at KPFA, KPFK and KFCF Fresno collaborate to
produce the Pacifica Evening News.” | READ KPFA’s ANNOUNCEMENT, message from iGM Richard Pirodsky

KPFA’s fund drive gets big boost from court ruling 

kpfamikeguitarKPFA just successfully wrapped up its spring 2014 fund drive. The “unofficial” tally at press time is $762,024, far surpassing the fund drive’s goal of $722,000. 

The drive received a shot in the arm on May 12, when an Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered fired Pacifica executive director Summer Reese to vacate the Pacifica National Office next door to KPFA where she, her mother and a small band of supporters were camped out. Immediately following the news, listener donations skyrocketed. | READ NEWS COVERAGE from Current, the Pacifica Evening News, the Daily Californian, the San Jose Mercury | READ the judge’s decision

Listeners also responded enthusiastically when KPFA began an 8 AM simulcast of the popular KPFK program Uprising Radio hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar. Fundraising totals from the program totaled as much as $15,000 per day, split between KPFK and KPFA.

Digging further into the numbers, the five hours of joint fundraising with Kolhatkar at 8 AM raised a total of $57,388 for KPFA (even with the rollover pledge answering service down for one day). KPFA also rebroadcast Kolhatkar’s programs and pitches during the last week of fundraising on six other occasions, raising a total of $35,419 more.  That’s $92,847 that Kolhatkar raised for KPFA in four and a half days!

Kolkathar’s 8 AM average was an astonishing $11,477 per hour. Analysis showed the pledges were almost 50/50 for KPFK and KPFA, or an average of about $5,738 per hour at each station.

Uprising will continue to air as the newest addition to KPFA’s morning line up at 8 AM. Kolkathar describes her program as “a daily digest of independent news analysis, investigation, education, artistic expression and activism.”

The Morning Mix shows formerly airing at 8 AM have been offered afternoon time slots, and some other programs’ air time have also been moved:
Project Censored with Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips will air Fridays from 1-2pm.
Terre Verde will move from 1pm to 2pm on Friday.
Sabrina Jacobs will air every Monday from 3:30-4pm.
Steve Zeltzer will air every Tuesday from 3:30-4pm
Open Book will air every Wednesday from 3:30-4pm
Andres Soto will air every Thursday from 3:30-4pm.
Counter Spin will air every Friday from 3-3:30pm
Making Contact will air every Friday from 3:30-4pm.

kpfabumperstickerPLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT for the addition of Uprising Radio to KPFA’s morning schedule, by contacting interim GM Richard Pirodsky at richard@kpfa.org or (510) 848-6767 x 203 and interim Pacifica executive director Bernard Duncan at ed@pacifica.org or 510-849-2590 x 208.

If you didn’t get a chance to pledge to KPFA and would like to, the “thank you” gifts offered during the fund drive will remain available for the next week. Find them online at KPFA’s webpage.

Pacifica asks judge for TRO to remove Reese from its office

kpfamikeguitarThe Pacifica Foundation has asked the Alameda County Superior Court for a Temporary Restraining Order to remove former executive Summer Reese and her supporters from the Pacifica National Office in Berkeley, next door to KPFA. [Update: the court has continued this case to May 6 at 10am]

After a new majority took control at the Pacifica National Board this spring and terminated her employment, a disgruntled Reese broke into the office with bolt cutters and began sleeping there with her mother and a handful of supporters, illegally blocking the network’s elected directors from access, making wild accusations, and preventing the network from conducting business.

The case will be heard by Judge Ioana Petrou on Monday, April 28 at 9:00 AM in Dept 15 of the County Administration Bldg, 1221 Oak Street (3rd floor), downtown Oakland. SaveKPFA supporters are encouraged to attend.

“The Board and the public are suffering irreparable damage,” notes the legal case filed by the Pacifica Foundation on Friday, causing a “loss of good will, donations, and work hours.” It states that Reese’s actions “unquestionably violate state law and local ordinances,” and that Pacifica’s board sought the assistance of the Berkeley Police Department, which “after weeks of considering the matter, requested that [Pacifica] obtain a Court order to abate the nuisance.” |LEGAL DOCUMENTSMemorandum for TRO, Yee declaration, Wilkinson declaration, Verified cross-complaint, Application for TRO, Order to show cause

The complaint also notes that Reese and her supporters have prevented Pacifica’s elected chair, Margy Wilkinson, and its CFO, Raul Salvador, “from having access to the accounts payable and financial data to begin the Foundation’s audit….”

“The havoc caused by Reese and her supporters could very well bring this financially-fragile network down,” said Donald Goldmacher, a member of KPFA’s Local Station Board, and producer of the film Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?

Pacifica responds to lawsuit from 9 Reese supporters, says case has no merit

Pacifica’s board has also filed a response to a rambling lawsuit from 9 Reese supporters, who last month slapped the network with the suit in an attempt to force it to rehire Reese. Those 9 Reese supporters lost the first round, when Superior Court Judge Ioana Petrou denied them a TRO on April 9.

The Pacifica board’s response starts with a clear statement of facts about Reese’s employment and why she was terminated. It states Reese was not in possession of a valid contract because several preconditions were not met. The contract she has publicly released, Pacifica’s response states, signed by two of her supporters, was not authorized by the national board, and when presented to the full board for a vote, was rejected.

Pacifica’s response also points out many logical inconsistencies in the Reese supporters’ case. For instance, that they failed to follow basic procedures set out in the organization’s bylaws for remedying disagreements, which are supposed to be taken up by the board itself before landing in a court of law. And that in suing Pacifica, the 9 Reese supporters are effectively suing themselves since they sit on the Pacifica board. | LEGAL DOCUMENT:  Response to pro-Reese lawsuit

As Pacifica National Board chair Margy Wilkinson has said, she hopes the judge’s initial ruling against the 9 pro-Reese directors would encourage them “to express dissent with their voices and their votes, not litigation. Pacifica is in a fragile state, and can’t afford the time or expense of this lawsuit.”

So far, over 800 of Pacifica’s listeners and staff have signed an open letter essentially saying the same thing. Signers include Sasha Lilly, co-host, Against the Grain, former Pacifica National Affairs correspondent Larry Bensky, UC faculty Candace Falk and John Hurst, free speech activist Lynne Hollander Savio, community activist Ying LeeUpFront’s Brian Edwards-Tiekert, former Pacifica board chair Sherry Gendelman, KPFA’s Aileen Alfandary, labor journalist David Bacon, PM Press founder Ramsey Kanaan, Alameda County School superintendent Sheila Jordan, KPFA’s Philip Maldari, former KPFA GM Jim Bennett and former KPFA iGM Andrew Phillips, KPFK’s Jim Lafferty of the Lawyer’s Guild Show and Ian Masters of Background Briefing, KPFA programmers Sandy Miranda, Derk Richardson, Saadia Malik, David Gans, Tim Lynch, Vanessa Tait, Judith Scherr, Richard Wolinsky and many, many others.

Many have added comments, like KFCF listener Richard Stone“KPFA has been a broadcasting treasure, Pacifica its caretaker,” Stone writes to the pro-Reese group. “Do not destroy this bastion of radio sanity by selfish action.”