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KPFK and Pacifica Need Good Governance

by Grace Aaron Thursday, Nov. 22, 2007 at 9:25 PM
graceaaron@gmail.com

Can a "Clean Slate" of candidates for the KPFK Local Station Board rescue the station and the Pacifica Network from internal turmoil, legal challenges and financial collapse?

KPFK and Pacifica Need Good Governance body,p {font-size:medium; font-family:"Comic Sans MS;Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif "; color:black; margin-left:5%; margin-right:5%; text-align:justify; font-weight:normal; } h1 {font-size:x-large; font-family:Times New Roman,Arial; color:navy; } h3 {font-size:large; font-family:Times New Roman,Arial; } a { color:#660000; background:transparent; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:teal; } a:hover { color:white; background:navy; font-weight:bold;text-decoration:none;} a.info {background=#ffcc33;}

(This document was created by Grace Aaron and expresses her opinions as an individual. The document does not necessarily express the viewpoint of KPFK, Pacifica, any other candidate for the KPFK Local Station Board or The Committee to Strengthen KPFK.)

The Committee to Strengthen KPFK was begun by a group of KPFK programmers concerned about the station’s declining membership, sinking Arbitrons, problems with its broadcast signal, and two serious KPFK lawsuits. (See “Mission Possible: Statement from The Committee to Strengthen KPFK” [link]. ) The group soon grew to include some KPFK Local Station Board members. It was decided that the best way to improve KPFK would be to encourage people to become candidates in the Local Station Board election that is going on now. This effort was successful beyond anyone’s expectations and the Committee now includes 12 listener-member candidates and 3 staff candidates.

As the Committee has grown, it has also changed and now incorporates a broader spectrum of ideas and perspectives. The one thing the entire group does agree on is its Platform. This platform calls for better governance of KPFK and Pacifica and can be viewed at www.CandidateSlate.org.

To give you a little background, Pacifica is a California nonprofit organization that owns 5 radio stations: WBAI in New York, KPFK in Los Angeles, KPFA in the San Francisco Bay area, KPFT in Houston and WPFW in Washington, D.C. It also has over 200 affiliates and owns the Pacifca Archives. Further information about Pacifica can be found at www.Pacifica.org.

A struggle was fought and won to make Pacifica a membership organization so that it could operate democratically and best fulfill the needs of its diverse listening audience.

KPFK and Pacifica are precious resources. The broadcast licenses granted to Pacifica in the late ‘40s are invaluable. KPFK’s license allows us to broadcast the strongest signal west of the Mississippi. On the open market the Pacifica radio licenses are probably worth at least 0 million dollars.
http://www.ominous-valve.com/pac/archive/011001adelson.html [link] )

In these troubled times, our precious noncommercial voice is more needed than ever. But the scene at KPFK is only part of the picture. Pacifica itself is facing a very serious financial crisis.

In “The Greg Guma Interview” posted on 1 October 2007 by Ernesto Aguilar at
http://kpft.wordpress.com/2007/10/01/the-greg-guma-interview/ [link] Greg Guma, the outgoing Executive Director of Pacifica, explains the financial crisis at Pacifica.

At 21.00 into the interview:
“…last year we had ostensibly one of the best years financially Pacifica has had. This year, just 12 months later, we’re about to have one of the worst years because no money was saved, that the good financial outcome was a result of major gifts that were one time gifts that you can’t depend on having and that certain expenses in the network are escalating. And we are unable to control them…

and at 26:00 into the interview:
“…If the financial problem isn’t solved and people don’t agree to recast the economic model we may be forced to sell a station simply to stay in business…”


Lonnie Hicks, the current Chief Financial Officer of Pacifica, also painted a very grim picture of the financial situation. At the July 2007 Pacifica National Board meeting held in Los Angeles he said on Saturday, July 28, 2007 at 12:25 pm, as part of the Finance Committee Report:

at 13:50 into the audio:
“We are in really bad, potentially bad, financial straits at Pacifica… We have stations in FY ’08 that are having to look at lay-offs… Even in the FY ’08 budgets stations are having to expend 3,000 of their savings – 2 stations, those stations that have savings. I cannot underestimate for you that we are in a very serious situation…

“Now, the last point I’ll make is that when we crash and I am right now saying that we have one station that will crash in December. That is to say, not be able to meet payroll. That is where we are headed. I don’t usually make big, broad statements like that. But I am now. That’s my job, to give you warning so that you are not totally caught by surprise. I am just saying that we have to act now to be prudent. We have expenses even for FY ’08 that are not included. We have legal expenses that our attorneys have outlined for us that are not in that budget. We have potential ADA expenses that are not in that budget. We have expenses for projects that have been brought to this board that are not in that prelimnary budget. Those alone would add 3, 4, 5 hundred thousand dollars to that FY ’08 budget…

The audio of the report to the Pacifica National Board by the Chief Financial Officer of Pacifica can be heard at: http://www.kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb070727/pnb070727.php [link] if you scroll down to Saturday, July 28 at 12:25 pm and then go 13:55 into the audio. A longer and more complete report is also given by the CFO on the same day at 7:15 pm. Even though slow at times, it has a lot of information. A transcript of the whole meeting, which includes the CFO’s written report, can be found at: http://pacificana.org/public/files/National/BoardReports/20070727-MeetingBook.pdf [link]

What can be done about the downtrending vital statistics at KPFK? And what can be done about the degenerating listenership and finances of Pacifica as a whole? These are the questions that the founding members of the Committee to Strengthen KPFK asked each other.

When we should be feeling an outpouring of support for our unflagging efforts to stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, when we should have expanding listenership in a climate of media consolidation that has created millions of people starved for the type of information we broadcast, why aren’t we seeing a huge expansion of Pacifica? And what can we do to reverse the current trends in our network?

No matter how well meaning, dedicated and hard working the members of the Pacifica National Board have been, we must realize that they have failed to ensure that Pacifica is viable and growing in influence.

What can be done about the financial and other problems facing KPFK and Pacifica? Simple solutions are available and can be implemented that would quickly increase the number of KPFK listeners, improve our finances, augment our signal strength and quality, and create more diversity in our programming. What is needed is a competent, strong local board. Each local board elects 4 members of the Pacifica National Board once a year. By electing excellent representatives we can also improve the National Board.

If this isn’t done the future could be very grim for this network.

In light of this, the Committee to Strengthen KPFK took it upon itself to encourage a well qualified, intelligent and diverse group of activists to become candidates for seats on the KPFK Local Station Board. See www.CandidateSlate.org.

The Committee to Strengthen KPFK has evolved gradually in the last 6 months and is continuing to evolve. Our slate of 12 listener-member candidates and 3 staff candidates has broadened our perspective. Our platform isn’t a secret; anyone can read it at www.CandidateSlate.org. It’s what we all believe in and dedicate ourselves to.

We do NOT have a hidden agendas. We do not represent ANY political faction or party. We do not have specific programming priorities as a group. We are just interested in STRENGTHENING KPFK and PACIFICA.

Grace Aaron - 21 Nov 2007




(The following statement was read aloud to the Pacifica National Board at its July 2007 meeting in Los Angeles by 4 people representing the Committee to Strengthen KPFK: KPFK programmers Lila Garrett and Ian Masters, KPFK Local Station Board Member Lamont Yeakey and KPFK listener Ken Aaron. This statement may not reflect the opinions of all members of the Committee as the composition of the committee has changed. Newer members, especially those who are candidates for the KPFK Local Station Board, have probably never seen or heard of this document. There are also members who never signed this statement, some because they didn’t agree with it, some because they were afraid of retaliation if they supported it. The document appears as submitted. Definitions of CUME and AQH can be obtained from wikipedia [link] or the Arbitron website [link]. )

MISSION POSSIBLE:
STATEMENT FROM THE COMMITTEE TO STRENGTHEN KPFK

I am here to comment on the "focus station" of this PNB meeting: KPFK.

For many decades KPFK was both reviled and revered because, in the spirit of the original Pacifica mission statement, we provided news and information not heard anywhere else, and while this annoyed the mainstream establishment majority, it gave strength and purpose to a progressive minority. But perhaps our greatest strength was that we turned out to be right on all the great issues that roiled the country - civil rights, human rights, racial equality, labor rights, social justice and opposition to illegal wars and genocidal weapons. We were proud when listeners would constantly tell us they heard things on KPFK that “they’d never hear anywhere else."

We, a group composed mainly of programmers, ask you to face the fact that KPFK has lost 25% of its subscription base which has shrunk from 23,000 in 2002 to 17,000 in 2007. If the station's projections of 10 listeners per subscriber are correct, this means we have lost 60,000 listeners, one-quarter of our audience since 2002. All this happened during the increasingly unpopular wars of George W. Bush’s polarizing presidency.

The latest Arbitron ratings tell the story in hard numbers: Many of our loyal listeners are migrating in droves to Air America and NPR. (See data attached.) If - as has been rumored - the CPB changes its funding mechanism for our stations, this trend may adversely affect KPFK's bottom line.

Most importantly, we expect a minimum of professionalism in prioritizing the maintenance of our greatest asset, our transmitter, one of the most powerful broadcast signals west of the Mississippi. We are deeply concerned that the footprint of our signal has continued to shrink over the years in spite of the addition of the 98.7 FM translator in Santa Barbara (where the main donor for the translator in that city still can’t get a signal). It is shameful that KPCC, with less than 1/100th of our signal, has doubled its audience and is heard all over Los Angeles, while at the same time KPFK - according to Arbitron - has lost 42,000 listeners from 2003 to the most recent quarter and can’t be heard in the Cahuenga pass, less than a mile from the station.

Those who defend the current manager say she is adept at fundraising. But the numbers prove otherwise. The only way we are now meeting the financial goals of our fund drives is by squeezing more out of fewer loyal donors and extending them to as long as three weeks. Not only that, our most successful recent fund drive was in February 2007 when the GM was absent until the final three days.

It is incontrovertible that the general manager was absent from her job for over five months on paid leave in 2006. Likewise, it is untenable that the general manager of a community radio station feels entitled to squander listeners' money on limousines, expensive meals, and luxury hotels - all of which can be documented. In response, the GM uses the "race and gender card" as a defense. The truth is that the station's problems have little to do with racism and sexism, but everything to do with mismanagement and unaccountability.

One might think that these bills of particulars would be enough to bring about the end of the GM's tenure. But there is more:

      • The unionized paid staff recently took a vote of no confidence in the GM, which passed by more than a two to one margin;
      • When grievances were brought by both paid and unpaid staff to the GM, virtually nothing was done to address them; and
      • The management has failed to address the access concerns of people with disabilities.

In sum, we fear that, in spite of a growing potential audience from increasing opposition to the Bush Administration, as KPFK becomes more isolated and irrelevant in the community, some other well financed entity such as a “Christian” broadcaster will challenge the station's license before an increasingly conservative FCC.

The GM has made a number of promises which, had they been fulfilled, would have solved the problems. But when the time came for action, she did nothing.

What, then, do we want? Nothing short of a change in management will do.

(I hereby request that the document I am reading be made part of the official minutes and record of this meeting.)

Grace Aaron
Jonothan Alexander
Blase Bonpane
Don Bustany
Lila Garrett
Maggie LePique
Ali Lexa
Jolie Mason
Ian Masters
Shawn Casey O'Brien
Barbara Osborn
Eben Rey
Henry Slucki
Roy Tuckman
Roy Ulrich
Jon Wiener
Suzi Weissman
Lamont Yeakey

Plus 13 anonymous signers (programmers, paid & unpaid staff) who have chosen to remain anonymous due to a very valid fear of reprisal.


    Cum Persons
    AQH Persons
    Share
    2003 2nd Q
    192,400
    9,200
    0.5
    2006 1st Q
    158,700
    6,300
    0.4
    2nd Q
    160,500
    6,100
    0.4
    3rd Q
    169.800
    7,200
    0.4
    4th Q
    150,400
    6,200
    0.4
    2007 1st Q
    149,600
    6,700
    0.4
Arbitron Spring 2003
    Cum Persons (00)
    AQH Persons (00)
    AQH Share
    1924
    92
    0.5

ARBITRON WINTER 2007 TOP-LINE ESTIMATES
    Metro Survey Area
    AQH
    AQH
    Cume
    Cume
    Avg
    Metro
    Persons
    Share
    Persons
    Rating
    TSL
    2 Los Angeles
    KPFK
    67
    0.4
    1496
    1.4
    5.6

ARBITRON FALL 2006 TOP-LINE ESTIMATES
    Metro Survey Area
    Total Market

    AQH
    AQH
    Cume
    Cume
    AQH
    AQH
    Cume
    Metro
    Persons
    Share
    Persons
    Rating
    Persons
    Share
    Persons
    2 Los Angeles
    KPFK
    62
    0.4
    1504
    1.4
    71
    1737
    5.2

ARBITRON SUMMER 2006 TOP-LINE ESTIMATES
    Metro Survey Area
    AQH
    AQH
    Cume
    Cume
    Avg
    Metro
    Persons
    Share
    Persons
    Rating
    TSL
    2 Los Angeles
    KPFK
    72
    0.4
    1698
    1.6
    5.3

ARBITRON SPRING 2006 TOP-LINE ESTIMATES
    Metro Survey Area
    Total Market

    AQH
    AQH
    Cume
    Cume
    AQH
    AQH
    Cume
    Metro
    Persons
    Share
    Persons
    Rating
    Persons
    Share
    Persons
    2 Los Angeles
    KPFK
    61
    0.4
    1604
    1.5
    82
    2017
    5.1

ARBITRON WINTER 2006 TOP-LINE ESTIMATES
    Metro Survey Area
    AQH
    AQH
    Cume
    Cume
    Avg
    Metro
    Persons
    Share
    Persons
    Rating
    TSL
    2 Los Angeles
    KPFK
    63
    0.4
    1587
    1.5
    5.0




Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 30 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Who Put Up the Money for the Slate Mailer James in Irvine Friday, Nov. 23, 2007 at 9:47 PM
KPFK Problems Exceed Those Identified by Slate Hymie Friday, Nov. 23, 2007 at 10:40 PM
And? Your Plan IS? Listener Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007 at 12:05 AM
Response to 'listener' Grace Aaron Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007 at 10:48 PM
Please respond to James from Irvine Fern Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007 at 11:43 PM
SORRY, GRACE, NO PRIZE THIS TIME Listener Monday, Nov. 26, 2007 at 1:54 AM
Please respond to everybody above K C A Monday, Nov. 26, 2007 at 2:46 AM
Grace, Please fix your mess! John in Venice Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007 at 4:10 PM
KPFK INTERIM MANAGER ANSWERS THE FALSE CLAIMS repost Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007 at 1:15 AM
GRACE ISN'T ANSWERING, GIRLS AND BOYS Racists GO HOME! Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007 at 1:45 AM
tHERE'S ALSO NO ANSWER RacistsGO HOME! Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007 at 2:00 AM
What Lafferty's reply signals is .... Tejano Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007 at 2:32 AM
What Lafferty's reply signals is .... Tejano Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007 at 2:32 AM
Just a few things Grace Aaron has done to improve KPFK Grace Aaron Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007 at 1:25 PM
Grace, key questions still not answered Listener Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007 at 2:12 PM
Has Committee Lost its Goal Hollywood listener Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007 at 9:15 PM
GRACE AARON ANSWERS = NUT NOT YOUR QUESTION Pacifica Vet Friday, Nov. 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM
Leslie Radford answers Grace Aaron Pacifica Vet Friday, Nov. 30, 2007 at 12:07 AM
GRACE AARON''S "ANSWER" O.G. LISTENER Friday, Nov. 30, 2007 at 12:27 AM
Loophole Allowing Programmer to Control Listener Sponsor Board Member Should be Closed May Friday, Nov. 30, 2007 at 1:39 PM
More Questions for Grace kpfk vet Monday, Dec. 03, 2007 at 4:17 AM
Grace if you don't answer questions, you lose. Hollywood listener Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2007 at 11:40 AM
Grace Aaron Declared Loser in Thread LA IMC Thread Argument Dispute Resolution Com Friday, Dec. 07, 2007 at 11:49 PM
DON'T WORRY GRACE listener 2A Sunday, Dec. 09, 2007 at 7:12 PM
Don't let anyone tell tyou that GRACE IS A RIGHT WINGER!! Programmer Monday, Dec. 10, 2007 at 6:15 PM
Just ONE MORE LITTLE QUESTION, GRACE kpfk vet Monday, Dec. 10, 2007 at 10:07 PM
Looks like Grace Aaron Won a seat at KPFK MONEY TALKS Monday, Dec. 17, 2007 at 3:34 PM

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