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Open Letter to KPFA General Manager, Lemlem Rijio and the KPFA community

by repost from D. Bernstein
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]
§Here's Rijio's letter
by repost
From: KPFA Staff Announcements kpfa-staff [at]
Date: December 30, 2009 7:43:38 PM PST
To: kpfa-staff [at]
Subject: KPFA Staff:
KPFA Open Letter on Budget Reductions
Reply-To: staff-list-admin [at]

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]

To make a year-end, tax-deductible contribution to support KPFA, please visit

We appreciate the dedication and generosity of our beloved community of listeners and supporters.

Wishing you a peaceful and productive 2010,
Lemlem Rijio
general manager
KPFA 94.1 FM
1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 848-6767 (ext. 203)
(510) 644-1699 Fax
gm [at]
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Comments (Hide Comments)
by Maggie Kaigler
Brian Edwards Teikert reported this December from Copenhagen. Is this trip a KPFA expenditure? If so it flies in the face of protestations to the contrary, as evidenced by the quote below.

"The National Finance Committee began reviewing individual station budgets in August. Presenting the plan for KPFA, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, a staff member who also sits on the local board, called it a “break even budget” from which travel and most consultant costs had been eliminated. About $125,000 in staff reductions (about two and a half positions) were also being proposed, but “we may not be conservative enough.” The reason, he said, is that “fund drive revenue plateaued a year ago and is going down.”

From an article by Greg Guma in Maverick Radio

by anne silver
sounds good to me dennis. flashpoints and hard knock are a couple of the shows left worth listening to on kpfa, and i won't lose them without a fight. thanks to all who make these wonderful programs.
by jane doe
Seems like community radio is under threat from those within trying to solidify and coporatize themselves and their jobs. We went through a horror in Seattle - lost our fm community radio to management "up-sizing". See Good luck.
by Mara
PULSE online media weblog today recognized Flashpoints producers Nora & Dennis as among the Top 20 Media producers of 2009.
At the same time, its resources are being cut drastically by KPFA management, which wants to NPRize the station.

See this new article on IndyBay (buried way down in Media righthand bar):
Flashpoints receives Top 20 Media recognition from Pulse
by maggie kaigler
Awards and accolades only serve as added incentive for tyrannical KPFA General Manager Lemlem Rijio to eliminate Flashpoints and other similarly popular programs. Compromise is required but insecure Rijio fears creative programs and producers, lacking talent herself she fails to recognize it in others. The legacy of this mindset is lagging audience numbers , ever falling donations and an uninspired program development agenda that lacks excitement, depth, life or sophistication and fails to engage listeners or provoke thought. However it does provide a limited sort of job security for those who are like minded. A relentless vocal and written response from true KPFA loyalists and listeners, along with continued pressure on the present inflexible, ego driven management group may bring about change. In the future, close oversight of station staff can be provided by an executive staff with broadcast media and supervisory experience, coupled with a neutral and objective, community rich Program Council, with teeth but no ties to administration. Rijio, Alfandary and their advisors need to know the sting that accompanies corrupt, personality and favoritism driven leadership and downsizing. Otherwise, the GM etc., will do what they have always done; move forward with their dysfunctional and failed leadership agenda.
by Mara
The "Top 20" article is now available in the right sidebar up next to the other Flashpoints articles & also in a link in the mid section feature article
by me
Please. Flashpoints is one of the worst shows on KPFA. And I say that despite being in general agreement with Dennis' political stands. It is poorly researched and falls into a pattern of knee-jerk activism. I still remember the hogwash that was on Flashpoints during the first Gulf War, which Sara Diamond exposed so bravely and Dennis defended so unforgiveably. If we can't win our struggles with the truth, we don't deserve to win. Dennis you don't have the courage to seek the truth and you hurt our causes by being such a predictable propagandist. We don't need propaganda, we need real analysis and information.
by Skeptical
Maybe i'm too cynical but i somehow doubt that'' Me'' , the previous poster , is in ''general agreement '' with Dennis Bernstein 's politics .
After all as the old cliche goes just because you're parnoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you !
And someone is very much out to ''get '' Flashpoints . I have worked the Phone room during pledge drives when EVERY phone would be tied up with a Zionist trying to disrupt the drive especially during Flashpoints hour . Sometimes it would be unintentionally comic . Once one of them in a dull monotone, obviously read a flawed script that went '' I am a life long supporter (He sounded 16 ! ) of KPFZ(! ) and i want to know why does Dennis hates Jews ? '' Instead of immediately hanging up i replied that is so silly to accuse someone so obviously a New York Jewish guy of ''hating Jews''. The staunch defender of Israel paused , consulted with someone in the background and then said '' Well then he's self hating !'' I laughted and used the Anti-zionist Author's Lenny Brenner 's standard reply to that '' You can say whatever you about Dennis but no one can seriously accuse Dennis of hating Dennis ! "'
Back To ''me'', somehow i suspect that you're not just a ''leftist '' that just disagrees with Dennis's No doubt flamboyant style but are more in line with the above mentioned AIPAC types . If i'm wrong state exactly where you stand vis a vis Palestine .
by John Smith
It's unbelievable how this people, the so called "flashpoints team," are able to manipulate some on the well intended KPFA listeners. The pattern Dennis Bernstein has been following over the years to attack other workers (management included), just because they refuse to be manipulated and being used for Mr. Bernstein politics inside the first public radio station in the country is totally insane. The suffering and abuse Mr. Bernstein has caused to so many people over the years is more than extraordinary. He has constantly abused many of the women and people of color who have worked for Flashpoints. The overload of work on technicians who have had the bad luck to end up working for these vicious group is more than clear to anybody at the station. One of his more recent victims is Eric Klein, whom they now pretend they are defending Mr. Klein is filling grievances with the union representing the KPFA staff on a case of abuse and mistreatment he says has been very well documented. The corruption, manipulation, lies and nepotism, not to mention the mafia style threats by his slave Miguel Gavilan Molina, to whoever does not agree to go along with them, have to be stopped in order to keep a reasonable safe work place at KPFA. The radio station has spent so much money on lawyers, lawsuits, and medical expenses of the people he has abused, that now run into the hundreds of thousands of money the station needs to keep going. The amount of hours Nora Barrows, Miguel Gavilan Molina and Mr. Bernstein himself work to put together the 5 hours a week radio show is not justified by the salary the get for it. Why Mr. Bernstein, Mrs. Barrow and Mr. Molina don't run the board themselves while speaking on the microphone like anybody else does, including the volunteer programmers? Why they require a technician to make the telephone connections the need for the show? Why they don't edit their own prerecorded interviews?
Please, lets stop this madness of patterns of lies and manipulation for the good of our beloved radio station.
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