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Is KPFA community radio going extinct? "we can savor the irony of Save KPFA’s decision to
by reposted
Saturday Jun 21st, 2014 4:16 PM
The "Save KPFA" grouping was behind the termination of local programming call the "Morning Mix" shows on morning prime time on KPFA. Writer Eric James Anderson wrote "at least we can savor the irony of Save KPFA’s decision to replace The Morning Mix with The Uprising."
Is KPFA community radio going extinct? "we can savor the irony of Save KPFA’s decision to replace The Morning Mix with The Uprising."
JUNE 21ST, 2014
Is KPFA community radio going extinct?

• Jun 21, 2014

• Eric James Anderson

With its recent street protests, office occupations, and renegade broadcasts, Berkeley’s community radio station KPFA (94.1FM) typifies what people mean when they use the word “Berserkeley.” However, these confrontations are not merely some beatnik brouhaha, but in fact represent an existential threat to the future of community radio, and implicate one of Oakland’s current Mayoral candidates, Dan Siegel.

The most recent dispute is over the abrupt replacement of the locally-produced 8 a.m. show The Morning Mix with a radio program from LA called The Uprising, ostensibly because the new show will generate more revenue during pledge drives. In response to being rescheduled and shortened, the hosts of The Morning Mix held protest rallies outside the KPFA building and took over the studio on May 26 to air their concerns.

According to Andrés Soto, one of the hosts of The Morning Mix‘s five rotating shows, “I was really displeased that the morning mix has become a political football between rival factions…the morning mix, as an expression of authentic community voices, is what deserves to be heard.”

But, according to Richard Pirodsky, the Interim General Manager of the station, “The problem was that even though it had been on the air for three years, only one of the five Morning Mix shows was generating enough listenership and audience to even come close to justifying being in that golden hour.”

Supporters of The Morning Mix are organizing to attend the Community Advisory Board meeting in Oakland this Saturday, as well as hosting a “Save The Morning Mix” barbecue in Berkeley this Sunday, in hopes of pressuring the station to restore the show. While this disagreement and protest may not yet sound worthy of the “existential crisis” label, the story gets much deeper.

The radio station, founded by conscientious objector Lewis Hill in 1949, was the first of what would become the Pacifica Radio network: five stations across the country that are independently operated without any corporate sponsorship. While the accomplishments of this network are many, the predominantly listener-funded, locally-produced shows have struggled to contend with NPR’s corporately-underwritten programs, and with their own ideals of democratic, community-oriented radio.

In 2001, after 3 years of protests and lawsuits following an email leak, the Pacifica board signed a settlement that democratized the governance of the stations, allowing listeners to elect the members of their Local Station Board. Each LSB is comprised of 18 elected listeners and 6 elected staff members. These 24 “delegates” are tasked with forming the annual station budget, filling station management positions, and ensuring the mission of community radio. From these delegates, 4 “directors” are elected yearly to represent their station in the Pacifica National Board, which sets network policy from offices next door to KPFA.

While this settlement was intended to create a truly representative and listener-directed model of community radio, the reality has been more challenging. Chronicbudgetary problems (and their disputed “causes”), opposing visions for the future of the station, and abrasive implementation of management and board decisions (as in abruptly firing the former Executive Director Summer Reese, or canceling The Morning Mix), has led to regular confrontations among the various staff cliques, who at this point openly refer to themselves as “factions.”

At KPFA, the central rift is between the Support KPFA — United For Community Radio (UFCR) faction and the Save KPFA faction. UFCR is the more radical, community-oriented group, while Save KPFA is aligned with the views of management and directors, and, importantly, Dan Siegel, who has a long history with the network and, according to, was a “representative on the Pacifica National Board until he stepped down in January to run for Mayor of Oakland.”

Many of those sympathetic to the UFCR faction accuse Dan Siegel and Save KPFA of bullying, ignoring legal conflicts of interest, and trying to take over the network in order to sell off the East Coast stations. On the other hand, Save KPFA has accused UFCR of union-busting, sabotage, and trying to take over the network in order to, well, just to take it over.

This is where the existential threat comes in. UFCR is afraid that the station is going to lose sight of its community-radio mission to represent diverse and underserved points of view, and that the historic Pacifica network will be dismantled in the process. On the other hand, Save KPFA is afraid that the governance of the station and the network are excessively democratic, to a point where compromise on the revenue vs. community issue is unattainable and that UFCR will lead Pacifica into bankruptcy.

As Richard Pirodsky, the IGM who made the decision to replaceThe Morning Mix, put it, “they have in some ways been so mission-driven in terms of trying to bring diverse programming that you can’t find elsewhere on the dial, almost to the exclusion of worrying about whether we can afford to continue to do it.”

And this is where the “Berserkeley” side of this situation comes in. Save KPFA currently has enough of a majority with the Pacifica national board to preempt democracy by firing who it wants to fire and cancelling the shows it wants to cancel, leaving UFCR no other options besides protest, occupation and litigation.

There seems little chance of this situation being peaceably resolved, and realistically, this feud poses the greatest threat to the future community radio, but at least we can savor the irony of Save KPFA’s decision to replace The Morning Mix with The Uprising.
§KPFA Programmer Pedro Reyes At Rally
by reposted Saturday Jun 21st, 2014 4:16 PM
KPFA programmer Pedro Reyes spoke at the rally to return the "Morning Mix"
by 58 year listener
Saturday Jun 21st, 2014 6:10 PM
This is not a case of 2 factions; this is a case of a government operation, which began when KPFA was born in 1949, willfully, with malice aforethought, destroying all 5 Pacifica stations, and they are almost done. Below is an article entitled Incongruities, dated 6/20/14 at

Berkeley-At last night’s Pacifica National Board meeting, a number of unexplainable things occurred.

Despite a pronouncement by KPFA-affiliated director Jose Luis Fuentes (and Siegel and Yee employee) that the national board had passed a policy back in February that the executive director of the foundation was no longer permitted to hire station general managers without a vote of the board authorizing it,, a hire of Quincy McCoy as KPFA’s next general manager was announced by departing temporary ED Bernard Duncan. Without a vote by the board of directors ever having occurred. Inquiries to the board as to why they are not following their own policies were met with silence.

Fuentes proposed a strange motion at Monday’s PNB personnel committee (not voted on by the committee) to ban the foundation’s executive director from hiring station managers, hiring or supervising any national office staff, authorizing expenditures or serving as a spokesperson for the organization. The job description changes Fuentes proposed would essentially turn the executive director into an administrative assistant, render the job undesirable, and vests all operational supervision into the hands of an all-volunteer board.

Duncan, who was a no-show at the meeting and has announced a departure date of July 5th, submitted this written report to the board, where he noted the Empire State Building had returned WBAI’s last two transmitter payments and may be preparing to evict the station from its antenna/transmitter rental space. He did not indicate whether Pacifica would be on the hook for lease payments through 2025 nor how the station’s aging transmitter could be moved. Pacifica technical staff have stated it is unlikely the equipment could survive a move and would likely need full replacement.

Purported board chair Margy Wilkinson refused to inform the board who would be taking over the executive director position after Duncan’s departure in two weeks, stating that she would inform the board on June 30th, negating the board’s role in making such decisions, which apparently are being made unilaterally.

Wilkinson also informed the board that Siegel and Yee had been retained to represent the Pacifica Foundation in Free Speech Radio News vs Pacifica, the lawsuit filed by the independent Pacifica Reporters Against Censorship, who produced a daily 30 minute newscast for Pacifica for years. The programs were funded by Pacifica’s NPPAG grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Pacifica has not received any CPB funds for more than a year due to late and/or incomplete audits.

Siegel’s hiring by Pacifica, due to the presence on the board of his employee, Jose Luis Fuentes, requires ratification by the board due to the presence of an interested director on the board who directly benefits from the provision of revenue to his own firm. By having Siegel file a response in this new case without a full board vote excluding the vote of the interested director, the board of directors is in violation of Section 5233 of the California Corporations Code. The board never voted to retain Siegel in FSRN vs. Pacifica.

Fired then re-hired CFO Raul Salvador made an appearance at the board meeting, although he submitted no written report, and cast doubt on the claim that the much-delayed 2013 audit would actually begin on the date of June 30th, 9 months after the end of the fiscal year on 9-30-2013. Salvador said only 30% of the required schedules were completed. Salvador also was non-responsive to questions regarding the correction of the erroneous tax returns for the previous fiscal year, stating it was an “opinion” that they are erroneous, although they state Pacifica does not receive 33% of its support from members, omit the required form 100, classify interdivisional transfers as revenue, and are at least a million dollars out of whack with the auditor’s numbers. Salvador also admitted to working only three days of the 8 month period since he was placed on administrative leave on October 24, 2013, although Pacifica appears to have paid him over $50,000 since October. No financial information has been released by the organization since Reese was abruptly terminated.

It was also announced that an employee terminated in 2013 for releasing dozens of employee’s social security numbers without authorization to LA board member Lydia Brazon in an insecure email, had been rehired as the foundation’s controller.

At KPFA’s local station board meeting on June 14th, re-hashed financial statements from February were re-released with errors, and the previously announced figure of $790,000 for the station’s May fund drive was pulled back to $664,000 (less the approximately 6% that is remitted to Fresno satellite KFCF). Uprising, the LA syndicated show which replaced a series of local programs in the 8am slot. The program change has already elicited a slew of letters of condemnation from the San Francisco Labor Council, ILWU Local 10, the Golden Gate Letter Carriers Union, Veterans for Peace, the Gray Panthers and the Richmond Progressive Alliance. The fund drive numbers revealed that early crowing about all the money pouring in was deceptive, with this fund drive totaling no more than the May fund drives in 2013, 2012, 2011 or 2010. Uprising also demonstrated a startlingly low pledge fulfillment rate, 9% below the station-wide average (65%) and 14% less than the program it replaced (71%) , suggesting that many of the pledges booked may never actually be sent into the station.
by bemused
Thursday Jun 26th, 2014 5:08 PM
Again a constant state of infighting and meaningless protests attended by a smattering of self-important blowhards. That is the sad lot of Pacifica Radio now. Weren't there a group of loons recently camping out at the office or something recently? Did they finally go away, or are they still roasting smores and imagining that they're actually relevant to anything going on in the Bay Area right now? Some sociologist would have a field day studying all the various factions and all the childish and petty infighting contained within the increasingly shrinking world of Pacifica. It's kind of the American hard left in a nutshell, convinced they're saving the world when all they care about is getting their tiny bit of space on the street corner orators soap box that is that network now.