SaveKPFA’s Margy Wilkinson elected PNB chair, Tracy Rosenberg finally off the board

margywilkinsonThe Pacifica National Board (PNB) met February 7-10 in Washington, DC. After a close election, Margy Wilkinson, a member of SaveKPFA and former chair of KPFA‘s local board, became Pacifica’s new chair.

Margy is a long-time union activist who is also involved with Grandmothers Against War and is an active volunteer in the Berkeley public schools. Over her two years as chair of KPFA’s local board, she demonstrated a real knack for bringing calm and civility to an often acrimonious setting. Here’s hoping she can keep it up at the PNB!

In related news, this year’s PNB no longer includes Tracy Rosenberg, the board member who engineered the destruction of KPFA’s Morning Show in 2010. She reached the end of her term limit. Filling her seat on Pacifica’s Finance Committee will be worker representative Brian Edwards-Tiekert — one of the Morning Show hosts she encouraged Pacifica to lay off (he was re-instated with full back pay and now hosts UpFront).

The PNB elected Tony Norman as its vice chair. He is an attorney who has previously served as chair of the local board of Pacifica station WPFW in Washington, DC. As secretary, the PNB elected Cerene Roberts, a delegate from New York City’s WBAI, and as assistant secretary, Adriana Casanave from Houston station KPFT. | LISTEN to the PNB meeting: agenda, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4

“Loyalty” lawsuit against KPFA listener-activists dropped

Some of the hundreds of listeners who pledged to restore the Morning Show

Some of the hundreds of listeners who pledged to restore the Morning Show

A lawsuit demanding over $800,000 in “damages” from four KPFA listeners who tried to raise money for KPFA has been dropped, with its initiator agreeing to pay all costs for SaveKPFA‘s legal defense team.

The SLAPP suit had been filed against the Morning Show 4 — elected KPFA board members Margy Wilkinson, Dan Siegel, Mal Burnstein and Conn Hallinan — who led a 2011 SaveKPFA campaign that collected over $60,000 in pledges to restore the KPFA Morning Show, after Pacifica claimed it had cancelled the show for financial reasons.

Hundreds of listeners made financial pledges in that campaign, but Pacifica refused to accept them. Shortly thereafter, KPFA partisan Daniel Borgstrom and his lawyer, former LSB rep Richard Phelps, slapped the four SaveKPFA board members with a lawsuit demanding $800,000 in “damages” for the fundraising activity, which they claimed was “disloyal” to Pacifica.

While Pacifica formally took no position on the suit, national board members such as treasurer Tracy Rosenberg had been publicly proclaiming the existence of the lawsuit as a “win” for her side. In January 2013, she and her allies on the PNB even passed an Orwellian anti-dissent “loyalty” measure targeting the SaveKPFA‘s activists, threatening to boot them from the board should Borgstrom win his lawsuit. Outraged listeners and staff wrote to the PNB when the measure was introduced earlier this year (a sampling of the letters is here.)

Thanks for your support, and congratulations to everyone who has worked to support KPFA through these difficult times!  Please renew that support by making your pledge to KPFA during this week’s fund drive.

It’s not too late! You can still vote in the KPFA election…

This year, KPFA ballots have to make their way to a central counting facility in New York by December 11. If you haven’t yet mailed your ballot, your only option at this point is overnight it to the collection facility so it arrives 12/11. [UPDATE: results are due this week, and we’ll post ’em as soon as we get them!]

Here are the 9 SaveKPFA candidates: Jose Luis Fuentes-Roman, Carole Travis, Craig Alderson, Paula Erkkila, Kate Gowen, Mark Hernandez, Barbara Whipperman, Burton White and Dan Siegel. Please vote for all 9 , ranking them from 1 to 9, or if you’d rather not rank them, give a “1.”

SaveKPFA‘s endorsers include KPFA stalwarts like Mitch Jeserich, Aileen Alfandary, and Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Sasha Lilley, and John Hamilton; as well as incredible community leaders like Rashidah Grinage, Sal Roselli, Raj Patel, Carlos Munoz, Jr., and Al Young. See the full list of endorsers here.

sasha_lilley_and_noam_chomsky

KPFA's Sasha Lilley with Noam Chomsky

Need a little inspiration? Sasha Lilly, co-host of KPFA’s Against the Grain, and co-author of Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth, endorses SaveKPFA. “While Pacifica’s governance system is clearly broken,” Lilley says, “it’s still important that people vote in this election — and vote SaveKPFA. If you think that Pacifica should not call the shots at KPFA, and if you support the work of skilled reporters and broadcasters — paid and unpaid — then please vote for all the candidates on the SaveKPFA slate.”

SaveKPFA‘s candidates are campaigning to support KPFA’s workers, deliver strong programming, grow KPFA, and defend the local control and network accountability we need to make those things happen. | READ What We Stand For

Incumbents from the opposing slate have made very clear where they stand: they backed Pacifica’s top-down purge of KPFA’s Morning Show, counter-demonstrated at union pickets, made excuses for Pacifica’s decision to hire Jackson Lewis (which the AFL-CIO calls “the nation’s #1 union-busting law firm”) and as recently as this summer, they pushed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary layoffs at KPFA — even as the station was running a surplus. For more on the stakes, read this detailed endorsement essay by Brian Edwards-Tiekert.

Elections at KPFA are generally low-turnout affairs that are decided by relatively small margins. Every vote makes a big difference, so tell any KPFA members you know to look for their ballots and vote for the 9 SaveKPFA candidates. You can also forward this election flyer (PDF) and/or election postcard (JPG) to friends, and urge them to vote. Or ask friends to visit www.SaveKPFA.org or call us at (510) 969-9373 to learn more.

LSB supports bylaws changes to make boards smaller; rejects censorship

Good news from KPFA’s local board meeting on December 1: members voted to support Pacifica bylaws reforms which would reduce the size of the Local Station Boards from 24 to 16, and Pacifica National Board from 22 to 17. These changes, if accepted by a majority of the other local boards, will save the network money and begin to streamline governance.

Board members also discussed the initiating role of KPFA staff in the highly successful fundraiser for Pacifica’s WBAI, hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. In a tremendous show of solidarity, all five Pacifica stations pitched in for a national day of fundraising November 15, raising over $180,000 to keep WBAI from going off the air.

“It was really beautiful,” said Pacifica/KPFA board member and Letters & Politics producer Laura Prives. “We can survive if we do good radio.” | LISTEN to Prives audio, followed by interim manager Andrew Phillips thanking KPFA’s staff (2 min)

The meeting’s last hour wasn’t quite as inspirational. Board member Andrea Prichett of the United for Community Radio (UCR) slate brought a resolution targeting the staff website, KPFAWorker.org. Prichett, backed by Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg and staff rep Anthony Fest, has been conducting what some have called a “witch hunt” against the website for months.

“They don’t seem to understand either the First Amendment or labor law, under which such worker organizing is protected concerted activity,” according to one KPFA staffer, who preferred to remain anonymous, given the station’s history of firing outspoken workers.

Board member Dan Siegel, a civil rights attorney affiliated with SaveKPFA, eloquently laid out the movement history that Prichett and her allies were missing, respectfully asking her to withdraw the motion. SaveKPFA-affiliated board member Conn Hallinan, who ran the journalism program at UC Santa Cruz for two decades, said Rosenberg’s and Prichett’s lack of understanding of free speech and differences of opinion was “stunning” as well as “scary — since we’re talking about KPFA.”

The resolution went down to defeat, though every UCR-affiliated board member continued to support it.

LISTEN to Siegel on organizing history (2 min audio) &  Hallinan on free speech (1:30 min). You can also listen to the entire LSB meeting here: part 1 (public comment, iGM report, treasurer’s report) | part 2 (Pacifica bylaws) | part 3 (free speech and workers’ rights)

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

Endorsements pour in for SaveKPFA’s candidates

A few of SaveKPFA's endorsers The endorsers’ list for the 9 SaveKPFA activists running for KPFA’s local board this November is getting longer daily.

SaveKPFAs endorsers include Larry Bensky, Pacifica’s National Affairs Correspondent for two decades; Raj Patel, the author of The Value of Nothing, and Stuffed and Starved; Sasha Lilley, host of KPFA’s Against the Grain; Al Young, writer, teacher and California Poet Laureate emeritus; Mitch Jeserich, host of Pacifica’s Letters & Politics; Max Anderson, Berkeley City Councilmember; Lynne Hollander Savio, chair, Mario Savio Memorial Lecture & Young Activist Award; Shelley Kessler, Secretary-Treasurer, San Mateo Labor Council, and hundreds of others. (IDs for identification only)

SaveKPFA‘s candidates have pledged to restore local control; strengthen Pacifica’s accountability, financial stability, and transparency; advocate for continuing quality programming; and make the boards smaller, less expensive, and (hopefully) less fractious. | READ the platform & candidates’ statements.

Between them, the candidates have a wealth of background in radio, nonprofit administration, fundraising, labor, and grassroots social and economic justice movements. They come from around the Bay Area and beyond, all enthusiastic KPFA listeners who want to make a positive difference.

Check out SaveKPFA‘s endorsers and add your name too. Then watch for your mail ballot, scheduled to mail November 6.

(Photo: a few of SaveKPFA’s endorsers, top to bottom: Al Young, Bonnie Simmons, John Hamilton, Raj Patel, Shelley Kessler, Larry Bensky and Lewis Sawyer.)

KPFA’s Fall Fund Drive ends early, short

Music programmer David Gans and Luis Medina, KPFA's music director.

Music programmer David Gans and Luis Medina, KPFA's music director.

In an encouraging sign that KPFA’s management is serious about trying to rein in the length of fund drives, KPFA’s Fall Fund Drive ended last Friday, after 19 days of fundraising — five days shorter than the previous year’s. It also ended short of its goal by roughly $140,000.

KPFA is trying to make up some of the difference through online pledges — so we encourage you to contribute at kpfa.org.

Some context: KPFA was forced to lengthen its fund drives dramatically over the past two years to compensate for the drop in pledging after now-ousted Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt axed KPFA’s Morning Show.

One of the greatest challenges facing KPFA is to find a way to shorten its fund drives before it’s trapped in a downward spiral of diminishing returns and dropping listenership from too much airtime devoted to asking for support.

KPFA’s interim manager took a step in the right direction when he returned former Morning Show co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert to morning drive time, with the introduction of UpFront weekdays at 7 AM. On its first day, the program delivered KPFA’s top fundraising totals — and has ever since. The money raised during UpFront in KPFA’s Summer Fund Drive helped make that drive the first in years to both end on schedule and beat its goal.

New approach to fund drives?

In the current drive, UpFront‘s fundraising has continued to grow, but the station overall was flagging. Fall fundraisers have historically been hard for KPFA in Presidential election years, as the elections tend to siphon off donations, time and attention. Facing daily totals that would have required the station to extend the drive  to four weeks or more to make goal, management decided to end it and make a strong appeal to listeners to support that effort.

It paid off: in the three days after KPFA announced it would end its fund drive early, the station raised more money than in the previous eight days. And while KPFA may need to add a few days of fundraising in December to make up the difference, it will be far fewer days than KPFA would have had to extend its Fall fund drive to actually make its goal.

Now, KPFA is back to producing strong, uninterrupted programming — the kind of work that is especially important in the run-up to a major election. We think it’s a step in the right direction, and SaveKPFA is strongly encouraging KPFA listeners to show their support by pledging online at kpfa.org/support.

There is a second reason it’s important to support KPFA right now: the station’s new fiscal year has begun, Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg has extended her grip on office by tying up the recall vote count in court, and we fully expect her to use the fund drive shortfall as an pretext to push for retaliatory cuts at KPFA in the weeks to come.

9/13/12: Last day to join KPFA to vote in fall elections

Changing the dynamic at Pacifica Radio is up for a vote in this fall’s election for Local Station Board members at KPFA and the other four Pacifica stations. In order to participate in these upcoming elections, you need to be a member of your local Pacifica station as of Thursday, September 13. The minimum membership contribution is $25 between Sept 13, 2011 and Sept 13, 2012.

At KPFA, if you haven’t made a donation between those dates, you can do so  by paying online with a credit or debit card at https://secure.kpfa.org/support. A pledge by itself is insufficient; you must actually have paid your pledge by close of business September 13 to be eligible to vote. So please don’t delay!

If you aren’t in the Bay Area, you can support Pacifica stations that you listen to in other areas. If you are a New York City listener, become a member of Pacifica’s WBAI. In Los Angeles, it’s Pacifica’s KPFK. In Washington, DC, jazz and public affairs fans alike pledge to Pacifica’s WPFW. And in Houston, Pacifica’s outlet is KPFT.

KPFA’s local board chair urges YES vote

Original KPFA radio dial, circa 1949

Original KPFA radio dial, circa 1949

“Let me paint a picture of where KPFA is now — because it should concern all of us — no matter which side we’re on,” writes Margy Wilkinson, chair of KPFA’s local board in an open letter to listeners. Wilkinson cites evidence of the dramatic loss of listenership following Pacifica management’s purging of the station’s most listened-to program, the Morning Show, produced by a crew of young, diverse journalists. What follows is a tale of stunningly undemocratic dirty-tricks, financial mismanagement and anti-union maneuvers that have caused KPFA listeners to demand an immediate change in Pacifica’s management — starting with the recall of Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg. | READ WILKINSON’S  ENTIRE LETTER