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Open Letter to KPFA General Manager, Lemlem Rijio and the KPFA community
Dennis Bernstein replies to a letter sent by KPFA General Manager Lemlem Rijio to the staff list concerning the cuts to Flashpoints
Open Letter to KPFA General Manager, Lemlem Rijio and the KPFA community of Listeners
/And A Bold Proposal
By Dennis Bernstein, Executive Producer, Flashpoints
On December 30th
[Response to Rijio letter of 12/30, KPFA Staff: KPFA Open Letter on Budget Reductions, which is not copied here due to a confidentiality notice]
KPFA GM, Lemlem Rijio addressed the KPFA Pacifica community in an open letter . . about the current financial crunch at KPFA. While the crunch is real, I would of course disagree with several statements made in the letter by MS Rijio.
But let me just shed light on one point, in which she directly addresses Flashpoints, and then I'd like to offer a bold proposal to Management and workers at KPFA, to step up and stand strong for Free Speech Radio.
Ms Rijio states in her open letter: "At the current staffing level (after cuts to all programs), Flashpoints has more staffing per hour than all other public affairs programs at KPFA."
Really? Under current management, Flashpoints has lost fifty percent of its budget, leaving the show with 80 paid hours for staffing.
Currently KPFA news has well over 200 paid hours for staffing, five times the plant space as Flashpoints, and their own broadcast studio. They also have full access to Free speech Radio News which is a major contributor to the news cast. According to the official budget figures for fiscal 2005/2006, the news department budget went up over $50,000 dollars under current management, while the Flashpoints budget was cut. Administration went up over $30,000 dollars in the same period. The trend continued, as MS Rijio expressed her priorities clearly, by continuing to cut (and censor) Flashpoints, while increasing the budgets for the morning show and the news and administration.
Statement of Fact: The Flashpoints budget has been slashed in half under current management.
Question: Have the budgets for the morning show and the KPFA news gone up or down under the same management?
Question: Did current management bust the budget, and are they now using the bust as an excuse to get rid of, or at least marginalize a radical edgy show like Flashpoints?
MY Challenge: Ms Rijio writes in her open letter, "program teams, were given the opportunity to voluntarily spread the cuts among themselves, and some staff voluntarily reduced their hours to lessen the impact on their co-workers." Well here's my response to my boss: OK I will volunteer to go on an unpaid six months leave, and work for free, starting immediately if six of my brothers and sisters at the top of the KPFA pay scale will do the same. That would be say the two top managers, and 4 senior members of CWA (let's make room for the next generation).
One more thing, it is my understanding that several people were given major increases in their hours, even while others were being cut. Those hours should immediately be returned back to the hour pool and given back to the people who were just laid off.
If you agree to this action, in support of KPFA,the people’s radio station, Ms Rijio, then I think that it will go a long way to getting us over the financial hump, without hobbling Flashpoints and Hard Knock Radio, which have been hit hardest by the crunch, and which are born under the banner of Pacifica founder, Lew Hill.
In closing, Ms Rijio, I do admire your decision to bring this conversation out into the light of day, with your open letter to the KPFA community. I look forward to this frank open dialogue on how to keep KPFA Free Speech, non-corporate radio strong and viable into the 21st Century.
In Struggle, Dennis Bernstein Executive Producer, Flashpoints, CWA/KPFA member,
dbernstein [at] igc.org
From: KPFA Staff Announcements kpfa-staff [at] mailinglists.kpfa.org
Date: December 30, 2009 7:43:38 PM PST
To: kpfa-staff [at] mailinglists.kpfa.org
Subject: KPFA Staff:
KPFA Open Letter on Budget Reductions
Reply-To: staff-list-admin [at] kpfa.org
I am writing you today as the general manager of KPFA, as a woman who believes very strongly in the mission of KPFA, and as a strong advocate for the central role that public radio can play in social change, opposition to war, and the democratic process.
It is not by coincidence that I begin by mentioning democracy and the mission of KPFA. Because the truth of the matter is that I strongly believe that individuals make the best decisions when they engage in a democratic process of hearing both sides of any given "story"--because it aids them in making the most informed, rationale,
and educated decisions.. In this case I am hoping that by engaging in the democratic process you will be more informed about the job cuts occurring at KPFA.
As you know, we are facing a financial tsunami unlike anything we've seen in the last 50 years--if not longer. KPFA, being a listener supported station takes no corporate subsidies or "bailouts" and thus, has been impacted as much if not more than other non profit institutions across the United States.
In order to survive we have been forced to make some very difficult decisions in the most democratic and egalitarian way possible--always paying careful attention to fiscal stability as well as equity in terms of process and outcome. Without overburdening you with detail, our equity oriented process has included the following:
1) KPFA staff was notified of our board mandated cuts in fall of 2008, a year ago.
Our 2009 pace of spending and expenses versus revenue (listener support levels and donations) is unsustainable and adds up to a budget deficit of over $600,000. KPFA layoffs are driven by economic
2) Staff was notified again in the summer of 2009 that cuts were inevitable due to the continued decline in revenue. Further, the urgent need to implement staff cuts was discussed on the board and management level for several months.
3) In August, management met with each department and program to talk about the program budget deficits and the available options to balance our budget.
4) More importantly, program teams were given the opportunity to voluntarily spread the cuts among themselves, and some staff voluntarily reduced their hours to lessen the impact on their co-workers.
5) At the current staffing level (after cuts to all programs), Flashpoints has more staffing per hour than all other public affairs programs at KPFA.
Some members in our community have expressed concern regarding KPFA’s programming direction. There has been speculation management's intent is to take KPFA programming in a less radical direction. These allegations are unfounded. Management’s goal is to ensure KPFA remain a financially sustainable and well-functioning conduit for programming that resonates with its listenership and fulfills Pacifica's mission.
We have to perform our crucial work in a financially sustainable manner and develop organizational structures and culture that foster resource sharing, cooperation, and excellent work-ethic. We welcome your input and feedback; please write to: gm [at] kpfa.org
To make a year-end, tax-deductible contribution to support KPFA, please visit http://www.kpfa.org
We appreciate the dedication and generosity of our beloved community of listeners and supporters.
Wishing you a peaceful and productive 2010,
KPFA 94.1 FM http://www.kpfa.org
1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 848-6767 (ext. 203)
(510) 644-1699 Fax
gm [at] kpfa.org