Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pacifica in Exile Newsletter: 7-26-2015

For generations, WBAI has been in the hands of self-serving opportunists who couldn't see beyond the mirrors they held up before them. Inevitably, the outbreak of egola spread to the Pacifica board and if you are still wondering why Lew Hill's distant dream of intelligent radio had a short life, you should listen to audio of the board meetings and read the words of chronicler Tracy Rosenberg. Here, dated July 26, 2015, is her latest:

Rogue Radio

Berkeley - Despite receiving over $9.3 million dollars in charitable contributions between October 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015, Pacifica Radio has indicated that it is unable to pay a $55,000 outstanding bill to auditor Armanino LLC in order to meet legal requirements to continue operating as a licensed not for profit organization in the State of California. California's Nonprofit Integrity Act requires all California charitable corporations with gross revenues of $2 million or more to prepare annual financial statements audited by an independent certified public accountant (CPA). The audited financial statements must be made available for inspection by the Attorney General and the public no later than nine months after the close of the fiscal year covered by the financial statement. Pacifica's deadline was June 30, 2015. The radio network is in the middle of an investigation launched in December of 2014 by the Registry of Charitable Trusts at the California Attorney General's office.

Executive director John Proffitt said he is unable to requisition any of the network's funds to pay the bill, although financial statements issued by the national office and  presented by PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert at the national board's June 2015 meeting, indicated $2.013 million dollars in the network's 22 different bank accounts and $1.382 million in unrestricted funds. The accuracy of those financial statements, however, may be uncertain, as bank reconciliations just prepared at LA station KPFK a year after the fact, revealed over $171,000 in financial transactions not recorded in that one station's general ledger between March and October of 2014 alone.  Proffitt says he has "asked" Berkeley station KPFA to pay the bill from the proceeds of $941,000 in estate bequests received in March of 2015, following up on a Pacifica National Board motion instructing him to do so, but despite the passage of the motion on July 9, 2015, no action has occurred.

Failure to comply with California's charitable requirements can lead to the loss of not for profit status across the country and the loss of FM non-commercial licenses which per federal law can only be licensed to not for profits.

The seeming inability of Pacifica's executive director to utilize the 501(c)3's income stream to maintain charitable compliance and the inability of the network's trustees (the national board of directors) to control network assets sufficiently to maintain legal operations as a California not for profit organization, indicate a serious operational breakdown in the 15 months since the Pacifica National Board engaged in a "coup" in early 2014, abruptly terminating executive management and introducing a year of chaos under volunteer management. Fiduciary responsibility is lodged in the network's 22-person board of directors.

Berkeley's KPFA indicates it has only $400,000 remaining in its operating account as of early July - 3 and 1/2 months after the receipt of almost $1 million dollars - and is planning to use up the rest in sustaining local operations over the summer by canceling the summer fund drive and spending down its remaining cash in July and August. The station spent tens of thousands of dollars on new carpets and elevator repairs in the spring.

The network's financial chaos has manifested most acutely at Los Angeles' KPFK-FM, which has suffered a dizzying drop in the past 16 months from the network's most financially successful unit to the brink of complete insolvency.  Four days into its summer fund drive, KPFK is already $52,000 behind budgeted goals. Recently installed general manager Leslie Radford stated in a report to the local board the budgeted goal of $750,000 was "a realistic estimate of what is needed to fund the station through September".

The station's fund drive has been troubled after the layoff of the station's volunteer coordinator led to virtually empty fund drive rooms, missed pledge calls and station staff struggling to answer pledge calls after fund drive  volunteer coordinator Teddy Clinkscales was "demoted" out of the job. The 2014 usage of tea party call center Comnet discouraged many long-time fund drive room volunteers and exhausted the station's financial resources with over $50,000 in bills during the previous year.

The LA station's credit card, tagged with a few thousand in retail purchases days before CFO Raul Salvador's resignation in May, continues to confuse with a mysterious March 29th, 2015 charge for a $600 hotel stay in Washington DC, a week before the LA station launched into an emergency fund drive in early April to avoid having to shut down.

New manager Radford,  a former board member installed by volunteer ED Margy Wilkinson over strong protests by all but one of the station's staffers and without sufficient resume qualifications for the job, has suggested she may sell the station's historic 1915 Mason Hamlin grand piano to "make the payroll". In her first month, Radford has largely concentrated on installing activist friends at the station, giving away slots of airtime and inserting a new volunteer community affairs coordinator, whose activities have included providing security for the Pacifica National Board's June 2015 visit at a cost of $900, and playing obscenity-laced music in the early hours of the morning.

Community outreach itself has been somewhat troubled with KPFK-affiliated volunteers thrown out of LA's well-regarded Youth Justice Coalition during the "Farce of July" event, due to community anger at the embrace of a reputed child molester on some of KPFK's evening spanish language broadcasts.

Today is the last day for Pacifica members to file applications to run for local board seats at their stations. Application packages can be accessed at The elections will replace the 50% of Pacifica's governance that has been squatting in their seats for a year and a half after their elected terms ended in December 2013, including the former IED and nominal former chair of the board Margy Wilkinson, who inserted herself into both positions in 2014 after her three-year elected term had ended. Pacifica formally postponed elections in 2013 due to financial stress and in 2014, a rogue board of directors simply failed to hold an election at all.

Texas station KPFT-FM has been saddled with a lightning-damaged and outdated transmitter since 2012.  Finally, a new solid state transmitter has been ordered, with a loan from KPFA for about 3/5 of the $160,000 price tag. But the station, whose fund drives have been consistently 20% off-goal, possibly due to the constriction of its signal range caused by failing transmitter equipment, didn't factor in the $18,000 freight bill, so this Indiegogo campaign was launched to fill the gap.

In New York, WBAI-FM is continuing occupancy at 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn for the third consecutive year without a lease. The lease, which has been on the table since at least December of 2013, has gone unsigned by three consecutive national boards and 4 consecutive executive directors. The unfinished space is currently housing a makeshift non-soundproof broadcast studio and the NY station continues to run its antenna from the Empire State Building, paying $14,000 a month and collecting $35,000+ as a debt-to-be-paid-later each month. WBAI's 15 year antenna lease at the Empire State Building runs through 2020.

KPFA's vaccine controversy extended beyond the initial censorship of Bonnie Faulkner's Guns and Butter interview with WBAI/ Progressive Radio Network host Gary Null to enmesh several other shows on KPFA's schedule including The Asian-Pacific Express (APEX) and The Project Censored Show. When both programs dipped their toes into California's SB-77 issue, they too found themselves experiencing station restrictions, namely the deletion of social media promotions (Facebook posts on KPFA's Facebook page) of the programs. An Upfront broadcast at the same time that took a more positive view of the mandatory vaccine legislation (which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown) did not have its social media promotions similarly removed. Programmers convened meetings with the station's program director Laura Prives to discuss what social media guidelines are in effect and current interpretations of 501(c) 3 restrictions, very different issues than those Prives raised to justify the Guns and Butter decision made earlier.

The rogue board continues to play fast and loose with Pacifica's bylaws amendment process, claiming a minor bylaws amendment passed with the votes of three out of five delegate assemblies, when one of the three stations credited with a yes vote (KPFA) did not notice a delegate's assembly meeting, thus making it impossible for them to have convened one in accordance with Pacifica's bylaws. The meeting calendar screen-capture shows that only three of the five stations (KPFT, WBAI and KPFK) noticed delegate assemblies and only two of those voted favorably for the amendment, so it cannot legally take effect.

With election season upon us, Pacifica in Exile readers can expect a full helping of campaign slogans, flyers and postcards from the various candidate slates in their signal area. Pacifica in Exile will be collecting real and satirical campaign slogans and providing a gallery of them, to help the network grapple with the structural changes that most observers suggest lie ahead for the troubled governance system. Please send yours to either real or spoofs and this publication will feature the funniest ones in future editions.

Today's submission: "Speaking Half-Truths To Power". 
To continue on the humorous path, please enjoy Twit Wit Radio from KPFA-Berkeley. 

Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at

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  1. As John Valby sings "Who Gives a Fuck..."

    Oh, our name is Pacifica Foundation
    We’re always out of cash
    We play party politics
    And treat listeners like trash

    We run continuous beg-a-thons
    But still can’t pay our bills
    Maybe if more dummies donate
    We could steal more from the tills

    Who gives a fuck, what’s goin’ on…


  2. KPFA agreed to pay the money due the auditor according to the report at the KPFA LSB on July 11th out of the bequest fund.