January 17, 2014
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Pacifica in Exile newsletter Jan 17, 2015
January 17, 2014
For Immediate Release
Berkeley-Local management at KPFA has been under fire for their increasing reluctance to provide live coverage of community rallies and demonstrations, backpedaling on a denial of the "Block The Boat" broadcast from the Port of Oakland and acknowledging a tepid response to the Black Lives Matters protests that swept the station's Berkeley neighborhood in the first week of December. That reluctance has amplified, with staffer Frank Sterling in receipt of angry emails after submitting a proposal for a 90-minute special program for the March For Real Climate Change Leadership planned in Oakland for February 7th.
Sterling, who works 8 hours a week and donates at least 3 times that much time as a co-coordinator of the station's Apprenticeship program which trains women and minorities in radio and multimedia production skills, found himself threatened after trying to pull together the broadcast as a volunteer. Program director Laura Prives accused Sterling of having "an unauthorized consultation" and demanding an apology from Sterling for "taking up her time". GM Quincy McCoy went her one better telling Sterling "it was the second time in six months he had stepped over the line and it would be his last". Program host Kris Welch and others had already announced on-air that KPFA would be "at the rally on February 7th".
Sterling has issued the following statement:
I'm writing this because I feel like KPFA is choosing again to pass up on broadcasting live from another local event and really, I am growing tired of having to fight KPFA to convince them to do.. in my opinion.. the right thing.. I thought a long time before deciding to share this with the community, but in the end, I thought it was important for the people who actually own KPFA, which is the listeners, to know what decisions are being made with the money they provide. And how people are being treated for trying to do what they feel is right.
I worked hard to set up a live broadcast from the March for Real Climate Leadership, which will be held in Oakland on February 7th. I verbally communicated with management over 5 weeks in advance of the event, and followed that up with numerous emails expressing my intent to broadcast and my plans to do so as well.
In the end, for trying to plan this broadcast I feel like I was beaten down by KPFA and really shown a lack of cooperation to find any means to make this work. I feel the excuses for not wanting to do the 90-minute live radio broadcast are bogus. The only one that has any validity is that the fund drive will be happening. But I argue for what would be gained by doing this broadcast for the community.
The e-mail excerpts are some of the exchanges with KPFA management and Pacifica's Interim Executive Director..
After reading these, if you feel it's important for KPFA to be at one of the largest climate rallies in the nation, a statewide convergence in Oakland to be broadcast live on the KPFA airwaves, please write to KPFA management Quincy McCoy (firstname.lastname@example.org) also the newly hired Program Director Laura Prives (email@example.com) and feel free to cc: Interim Executive Director Margy Wilkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you. . Franklin
The Saturday music program that would have been pre-empted for the 90-minute climate change special earned $1,289/hour per the last fund drive statistics posted on KPFA's website, an amount equal to 3/10 of a percent of the total $630,000 goal.
A document from KPFA's history recently surfaced detailing a similar incident way back in 1972, when recently returned broadcaster Larry Bensky not only proposed live covering a demonstration, but in fact did so, and then went into the production studio, removed the music program playing on the station and replaced it with his own just-recorded demonstration coverage. Bensky defended his actions at a KPFA staff meeting as follows:
"KPFA all through its history has stood for reporting the community and the street incident I put on the air is what Pacifica is all about".
Sterling eventually received permission to live stream from the rally onto KPFA's website "on his own dime" on February 7th, although terrestrial radio coverage during the event ws vetoed.
In other programming news, Pacifica's Archives has handed over to Democracy Now the world premiere of a newly discovered audio recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr from 1964 recorded by Saul Bernstein when working for Pacifica and said to be found in a box in Pacifica's archive storage unit in Los Angeles.
The Pacifica network is actively promoting the DN broadcast and seems to have been unable to put together its own national broadcast to showcase the newly-discovered audio on MLK's birthday on Monday the 19th. The board of trustees was not notified of the decision to direct the audio premiere to the independent syndicated program until after it was announced. Sales of the audio will be handled by the Pacifica Archives, which hopes to get a revenue boost from the distribution of the audio on DVD.
Copyright has been a fraught issue at the community radio network, with concerns raised about the unauthorized duplication of copyrighted materials, usually for use as premiums for donors. Well-respected radio attorney John Crigler of Garvey, Schubert and Barer, drafted a policy guidance statement for the Pacifica stations for previous ED Reese, which was completed on March 13, 2014, hours before Reese was fired at midnight by the newly seated board of directors.
The document can be read here on an Internet blog maintained by former BAI manager Chris Albertson. The policy guidance by Crigler stated that "one cost-cutting policy that should not be used is the unauthorized duplicating of copyrighted material" and that Pacifica should "adopt and enforce a strict policy against copyright infringement. Enforcement of the policy should include education of staff, restrictions on the use of duplicating equipment, investigation of suspected violations of Pacifica's policy and strict sanctions against those who violate the policy".
Reese commented after forwarding the material to Albertson: "After reading your recent post on copyright compliance, I thought you might find this of interest. It is policy guidance I received after receiving complaints about and from multiple units about copyright infringement, illegal duplication and piracy. Two units, NY and Berkeley, have their own duplicating machines and probably still do. I distributed this memo to all GM's and the board. Under the circumstances, I was obviously not able to implement it as policy with enforcement provisions".
Pacifica has one month left to comply with the extensive correspondence audit by the Attorney General of California. The network remains delinquent on state filings in California, including the financial audit for the year ending 9-30-2013. Eight former board members, among what were reported to be many complaints to California's Attorney General, released a statement about the upcoming investigation that can be read here. The state investigation comes as Pacifica's finances take an especially disastrous turn with half a million dollars in staffing reductions ordered for the two California stations, KPFA and KPFK, a quarter million dollars each. The two unions, CWA and SAG-AFTRA have already received notices of layoffs, but the implementation details have not yet been disclosed.
The details on the cash crunch are few and far between (WBAI local treasurer R. Paul Martin stated in his monthly treasurer's report (in big red letters) that "since we have only verbal reports and no financial statements, it is impossible to be precise in terms of the magnitude of the cash flow crisis". Of the few reports that exist, the only income statement released during the 2014 calender year showed (admittedly with several noticeable errors and incomplete data) a year to date operating surplus of $106,000 as of 6-30-2014.
Various verbal presentations have pointed to KPFA's doubling of projected off-air donations in their current budget over last year's actual numbers, unauthorized spending at the LA station KPFK, donor fatigue in New York at WBAI due to the protracted length of the fund drives, and bad timing on the Archives fundraiser as the nominal causes of the crisis. The network also has lost about a million dollars in annual funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and has been declared ineligible for 2014-15 funding due to the failure to complete and submit a financial audit for the year ended 9-30-2013 by the deadline of June 30, 2014.
New York's general manager Berthold Reimers confirmed in a report to New York's local board that WBAI had withdrawn from the network's Great Plains/Microsoft Dynamics accounting system and was using the Quickbooks program for recordkeeping because GP/MD was "too complicated". This means an accounting staffer will now have to be paid to transfer all of WBAI's transactional data out of Quickbooks and recreate it in a GP/MD ledger before the network can issue an income statement from its accounting software, a time-consuming process.
The national board is mostly busy with trying to hire a new executive director (in their 2nd attempt to replace Wilkinson after initial hire Bernard Duncan resigned in less than 60 days), a process they are trying to ramrod through in the last two weeks before their term end, going so far as to schedule finalist interviews on a Sunday and scheduling 12 hours of meeting time between January 18th and January 22nd.
KPFA's Community Advisory Board (CAB) is holding an open meeting at Berkeley's Public Library at 2090 Kittredge Street on February 22, from 1:30 to 3:30pm, to discuss strengthening community ties with the Berkeley radio station. The event is open to all and the CAB describes it as: "This event, sponsored by the KPFA Community Advisory Board is open to the public and is especially for individuals, community groups and social justice activists who want to be involved with KPFA’s free speech radio-media network. We want to explore new possibilities for KPFA live streaming, outreach interviews, Twitter, and other radio-media resources. We want to support the dissemination of people’s stories, perspectives, and thinking to foster effective coverage about local events as well as our responses to national and global actions such as those we witness in Ferguson, New York and Cleveland.Join us in building a KPFA Community and Staff Network, addressing issues of democratization and justice in our lives, in our communities and for the planet".
A memorial/celebration of the life of long-time KPFA programmer and volunteer Mary Berg, whose A Musical Offering woke many Northern Californians on Sunday mornings will be held at the Fellowship Hall at 1924 Cedar Street in Berkeley on January 31st from 2-5pm. The Facebook event listing is here.