Friday, April 3, 2015
If you thought Pacifica was not for Proffitt...
Considering the current majority on the vote-casting PNB, this may well turn out to have been a mistake, but it can't get any worse than it has been since the last coup. What do you think, Houston good guys?
UPDATE 4/5/15: AFTER MUCH SLINGING OF HASH AND DOMESTIC CAVIAR ON PACIFICARADIOWAVES, TRACY ROSENBERG ADDS HER SOBERING OBSERVATIONS:
Okay folks. I will endorse Kevin's point here as there is entirely too much "making shit up" going on around here. Nature apparently abhors a vacuum and when people don't know things, they fabricate things to fill the void. A lot of that going on. As with most things, there are good and bad aspects and the hiring of Mr. Proffitt is one of those things, so let's clear out the myths so we can be clear about what Pacifica is currently facing.
The first thing to say is that Mr. Proffitt assuredly was not the preferred ED candidate of the board majority. Not even close. They initially offered the job to another individual, labor writer Bill Fletcher Jr, who rejected the job offer. Mr Proffitt had virtually no support from the board majority at all. After the board majority's preferred candidate concluded he did not want the job, the board majority forcibly rejected the obvious conclusion that they should offer the job to the second place finisher, Mr Proffitt, going to a great deal of trouble to convene another entire selection process in order to try to garner enough support for "anybody but Proffitt". If the board majority wanted to hire Mr. Proffitt, they could have done so in January and they chose not to do so. The upshot of the delay is that the board majority was unable to build enough support for another candidate and was left with nobody but Mr. Proffitt. This is a defeat for them and not the outcome they wished.
There are good and bad aspects to Mr. Proffitt's hiring and I can speak to some of them by virtue of being on the 2013 ED search/Personnel committee and going through a hiring process where Mr. Proffitt was a candidate.
On the good side, I believe the skill set is reasonable for the job, and I don't believe the administrative and contractual aspects of the job, which are extensive, will be beyond Mr. Proffitt. I also have some faith in his financial oversight skills, which are obviously very needed at Pacifica.
On the bad side, Mr. Proffitt as I pointed out in 2013, is a dyed in the wool NPR man, and if you wanted a better example of "the NPRization of Pacifica", as it was called in 1999, you could not find a clearer one. The hiring of John Hughes in DC, who had a similar NPR background, provides an illustration of what happens when career NPR folks take management positions at Pacifica. A big cultural collision. The KUHF/KUHA program schedules show straight up talk syndication and classical music, and do not demonstrate any meaningful experience with generating local unique public affairs, working with volunteer programmers or with musical genres other than classical, which are stations extremely different than those Pacifica operates. It does not surprise me that Proffitt had little to no interest in the maintenance of KTRU, as it was a very different kind of station than the kind he operated. The problem for us is that the Pacifica stations have more in common with KTRU than with KUHF.
I am not going to say that a person cannot adjust, and I will agree with Mary Ann that it is unfair to make assumptions. However it is not an attack on someone to point out their history, and I can assure Kenya that no, the board of directors did not ask any questions about KTRU or PRC nor take that history into account, if they even knew much of anything about it other than that KTRU broadcasts in HD on KPFT's digital channels.
My recollection of Mr. Proffitt's career trajectory (and this was more than a year ago) is that he did not see his occupancy of the position as a long-term likelihood and so my basic response to this appointment is that it is likely a placeholder-type appointment. My modest hopes are that Mr. Proffitt would clean up some financial chicanery and put in a little fundraising infrastructure at the national office and keep GM's and the CFO accountable for adequate job performance. If he can do these things, the situation will be less-bad than it currently is. The long-term transition of Pacifica to healthier organization probably lies in other hands.