Urgent Letter to Pacifica
Tue May 21 11:07:55 2002
Dear KPFK Listeners and Sponsors:
If you agree with all or a portion of this open letter to the Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation, we strongly urge you to send an e-mail to Dan Coughlin and the rest of the Interim Pacifica National Board. Since decisions will be made today and tomorrow, please send the points you agree with immediately:
Draft of Open Letter to Dan Coughlin
It has now been 6 months since we supposedly took control back and some very good things have occurred at the Pacifica Stations. However, the most important aspects were to be:
a. openness [transparency] and b. more ways to have meaningful input [democracy] so changes for the better would be institutionalized.
As of today, many subscriber/members and long-time listeners and activists have concerns regarding the current actions by the Pacifica Foundation and our local station, KPFK. In an effort to open rather than to stifle communication, we have articulated several of our concerns below.
1. We were repeatedly promised an audit and accounting. Granted these things take time and the books were deliberately made difficult to decipher, but 6 months is a long time without a fairly comprehensive accounting. The last good information (minutes) posted was of a teleconference (with which many of us did not agree) back on 2-15-02 and to date have not even been approved by the PNB after 3 months. Remember, in California Board meetings are required to be public and their results available to all except under the most narrow of exclusions allowing executive session.
Whatever audit specifics you currently have should immediately be placed on the web so everyone can have access. Many of us see Pacifica more as a public agency rather than a corporation. A public agency has to be open, whereas corporations go to great lengths to hide things. That's the type of mindset that got us in trouble in the last 8 years.
2. All job openings, (including openings for temporary jobs)as opposed to some, within the network should be posted on the web and adequately announced on the stations. It has come to our attention that there have been several positions filled at KPFK without this requirement. This creates problems in that the process is susceptible to nepotism or clique abuse and is not the open and above-board process that most of us expected.
Additionally, Pacifica's allies, the affiliate stations, should be included in the notifications. The Grass Roots Radio list supporting those affiliates contained messages of bitter complaint at not being included in regards to the ED (national) and GM openings (at the several stations).
3. We were promised "the Folio" and need it quickly. This has traditionally been our newsletter of record for years. Although many would like to see it solely in electronic form over the net, many of our listeners are not on the net and need hard copies. However, in 6 months, we still do not have even an electronic "Folio". Although there are aspects of the below content suggestions on the website, it is not complete nor up-to-date. This newsletter should have:
a. What is happening at the station and the Pacifica Foundation;
b. What programs are on and who will be on;
c. The advance notification of the locations and agendas of all
LAB meetings and PNB meetings and past minutes;
d. Financial Status Reports for the station and Pacifica;
e. A regular report from the paid volunteer coordinator including:
1. Ways for everyone to volunteer and be involved.
2. Kudos for projects and regular volunteers;
3. Plans for future needs and opportunities; and
f. Job listings at all Pacifica stations.
4. The General Manager Search Committee was created to cull the best prospects out of the 50+ applications. The Search Committee (SC) even went to several area meetings to garner the criteria that should be used in the evaluations. That criteria was then to be applied to the prospects and 3-5 were to be the finalists. Then those finalists were to be introduced to the listeners in a face-to-face forum with ample question and answer time. It was also expected that they would be introduced on the radio air with an open question and answer period for those listener/subscribers who could not attend the physical forum.
What actually happened:
Those that attended the various area meetings de-emphasized the need for radio station experience and greatly emphasized the need for the applicants to have a progressive track record, proven management skills and to know Los Angeles and its communities. The SC gave us only those with radio experience, little experience in running a major station with a large staff and 2-out-of-3 very lacking in progressive credentials.
When the three finalists were announced, there was no information on the website and no documents were passed out at the church forum showing their qualifications and vision. Since the recent settlement specifically mentioned this type of information to be available in the Guidelines for KPFA Station Boards, section D6, we logically believed that such information would be available for the hiring of a General Manager who is at least as important as choosing LAB members. The Forum was held in a church with a natural echo, the audio system made much of the speaking inaudible and ultimately left much of the audience in the dark. This is not consistent with openness or transparency.
Then, questions were written on cards and all (but one) political questions were filtered (censored) out. This is not consistent with openness or transparency.
There was no introduction of the finalists on the air for the overwhelming majority of listener/sponsors and no on-air open question and answer session. This is not consistent with openness or transparency.
5. We expected more uncensored call-in shows and "Reports to the Listeners". Although call-ins were started a few times, they were quickly discontinued or if not, were censored. We believe uncensored call-in shows are the best way to get quick feedback from our intelligent and perceptive audience.
6. There is a problem with holdovers from the prior regime. We have programmers who spoke against our recent victory and tried to sabotage our recent fund drive. Many of these same programmers are being heard several times per week and/or had refused to fundraise. One producer is in a position to set guests up and make them look foolish. Another is in a position to hurt our transmitter renovation. It is one thing to have supported the Cooper/Schubb regime while they were in power; it is quite another to have continued support and negative statements on air after the take-back. This can only sabotage our efforts to bring Pacifica and free-speech back.
With the major problems above, we respectfully request that you quickly:
A. Place all but confidential audit information on the Pacifica Foundation's website;
B. Post all job openings in the network on the websites of the Pacifica Foundation, local stations and at least to the GRC list externally. NFCB, NPR and CPB should not be considered friendly;
C. Produce a "Folio" with the referenced items needed as mentioned in point 4;
D. Suspend the General Manager search and hire and provide our community with the needed information for proper assessment;
E. Have at least 2 "Report to the Listeners" each week to help keep us all on track.
F. Seriously discuss the wisdom of keeping potential problems in the station on air or off who have openly supported the Cooper/Schubb regime since the takeover in December.
Respectfully submitted by those who care about Pacifica and KPFK.