Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Exile Report: July 1, 2015

Another informative report from Tracy Rosenberg (posted here by permission).

Empty Pockets

Berkeley - In fairly stark terms, Affiliates Director Ursula Ruedenberg addressed the national board and asked them to support a plan she has been developing for over a year for Pacifica to administer a group underwriting plan for the 200+ Pacifica affiliates (independent radio stations that partner with Pacifica - most of them already take underwriting as independent entities). Ruedenberg told the board they could embrace the plan or face the erosion and end of the Affiliates program which she said was "no longer competitive". Some snippets from the meeting were recorded by a NY-based listener and are available here. The national board did not embrace the plan. The NY listener characterized the meeting as follows:

"Essentially, the PNB spat in the faces of the new ED, John Proffitt, and Ursula Ruedenberg, with respect to the proposal for an experimental trial of limited vetted underwriting on the part of the Affiliates that Ms Ruedenberg had been working with the affiliates and the previous iED and various Board committees to develop for the past year-and-a-half. It speaks for itself, as does the frustration and anger evident in Proffitt's and Ruedenberg's voices at the end of the audio, when the PNB collectively insults them for their efforts and kicks the can down the road once again". 

The board next meets in closed session on July 9th, where it will consider the restoration of corporate counsel Siegel and Yee, five years after Dan Siegel's resignation and later testimony that led to a $440,000 settlement against Pacifica for the termination of CFO Lonnie Hicks.

John Proffitt, Pacifica's new executive director, notified the finance committee on the phone on June 16th (the issue does not appear to have been discussed during the four preceding days of in-person meetings of the board) that the 2014 audit, which was due to the State of California Registry of Charitable Trusts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Tuesday, cannot be started until Pacifica pays another $65,000 to audit firm Armanino - and Pacifica doesn't have it. Armanino has already been paid a substantial sum and appears to be charging at least $140,000 for the 2013 audit under former CFO Salvador, almost double the 2009-2011 period when annual audit fees ranged from $60,000 to $80,000 under CFO Lavarn Williams. The lack of cash is alarming, considering that the five Pacifica stations just completed their last large fund drives of the fiscal year, grossing pledges of at least $1.6 million between the five stations and received an additional $950,000 in bequests. Berkeley station KPFA has spent at least $65,000 on elevator repairs and new carpeting in the last month, introducing some serious questions about the nonprofit's ability to control its resources sufficiently to maintain legal and regulatory compliance while under State of California investigation. Failing to secure CPB eligibility again in 2015 by missing the June 30 deadline for audited financial statements puts at risk public grant funding of $750,000. 

Los Angeles station KPFK remains in a financial meltdown after the last-minute appointment of former national member Leslie Radford as an unqualified general manager by Margy Wilkinson on her last day before new ED John Proffitt took over. Financial documents given out at the in-person board meeting listed KPFK's cash in bank at May 31st as $63,000, three weeks into the station's spring fund drive. The fourth week of that fund drive, in the first week of June, booked a dismal $67,000 gross as Radford's plentiful "fund drive specials" failed to engage listeners and garner pledges. The station's payroll and benefits are $75,000 twice a month. KPFK listeners have been receiving letters from Radford explaining their premium orders cannot be fulfilled due to lack of funds.

A donor waiting since February for a copy of Robert Scheer's book They Know Everything About Us, provided a copy of their letter which said "We unfortunately don't have an estimated time of arrival to give you". The letter blames the lack of Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding for the inability to purchase premiums, although CPB funds are not supposed to be used for premium purchases  which cost 1/10 of the donor's donation amount when they choose a gift. KPFK's May/June spring fund drive was reported to have grossed $600,000 in pledges, $533,000 of that in the first three weeks under terminated general manager Zuberi Fields.

At KPFA-Berkeley, the apprentice-driven initiative to create a video web channel featuring live coverage of community events, protests and demonstrations, continues to be sharply discouraged by station management and the Save KPFA-affiliated local board. GM Quincy McCoy and PD Laura Prives got into conflict over staff desires to broadcast real-time coverage of the Block The Boat protest at the Oakland port and the statewide March for Real Climate Leadership and PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert characterized the planned coverage as "self-serving" at a local station board meeting. KPFA came under heavy criticism for broadcasting music during much of the Berkeley Ferguson protests, when protestors marched right by the station and got into heated confrontations with police within two blocks of the station with little to no live coverage from the progressive radio station.

Apprenticeship co-director Frank Sterling has pushed forward the video streaming effort as a volunteer.  Sterling, who serves as a staff rep on the KPFA local station board is  paid for four hours a week of board operation and staffs the station's training program as an unpaid staffer allowing the program to continue without sufficient support from KPFA. Sterling provided a copy of an email he sent trying to get KPFA-staff created videos of community events posted on KPFA's website on the video channel page. His email can be found here and is reprinted below. The videos can be found on Youtube here and here.

On 6/28/15 4:49 PM, Frank Sterling wrote:

Here is our latest video.. I hope this is more in line of what you were hoping for. We ask that this latest video from Full Circle and also the latest video Steve sent out be posted to the video channel. We really hope this qualifies as legitimate material for the video channel as we believe it is. Especially since the top two videos there now are Alice Walker from 2007 (an 8 year old video), and a music video whose relationship to kpfa is unknown., which frankly speaking is a slap in the face to the video team as you have buried one of the most recent and most relevant videos at the bottom of the page which is the Block the Boat video from 2015. We also have the Gilman Benefit concert for KPFA which yielded some great footage.. It would be nice to have those up. I think we need some sort of order to the video page like maybe chronologically? 

If you feel that you do not want to post these videos to the video channel, please provide us with an explanation on why and what we need to do to have our videos posted there.. I would also ask that the second hour of Block the Boat be posted, which actually featured the apprentices as the hosts and the youngest members of the leading organizers of the event.

FULL CIRCLE 6-26-15 LIVE at Casa MaƱana The link is here..

UCB BSU Protest South Carolina Church Massacre-Black Lives Matter

Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you, Franklin , Full Circle crew and the video team..

Sterling was notified in response to his request that the videos would not be posted to the KPFA website on the video channel page and that KPFA's $99/month U-Stream account was being terminated. Sterling added the following comment: "A large portion of the community of Fairfax came out to where we were broadcasting a local event and they expressed great gratitude that KPFA was there and broadcasting".

Pacifica's local station board elections, after consecutive postponements, one authorized by the board in 2013 and the other election in 2014 simply omitted, have gotten underway with a July 14th deadline for voters to register and candidates to file their papers. Details can be found at So far, halfway through the candidate nomination period, only 5 candidates have filed to fill the 72 seats available: 3 at KPFK, 1 at WPFW and 1 at KPFA. KPFA's only candidate so far, Save KPFA-affiliated David Lynch, is a lifelong Southern Californian who has never lived in the Bay Area and currently resides in Ojai, California near Santa Barbara., 355 miles from the station's Bay Area home. If elected, he would join Save KPFA-affiliated local board member Burton White, who lives in Southern Oregon, Kate Gowen who lives in Portland, Oregon, and national board member Jose Luis Fuentes, who relocated to Los Angeles 5 months ago, in sitting on KPFA's local station board without residing in the station's locality.

In New York City at WBAI, the station's ad-hoc new studio space has been coming in for some criticism from station programmers. During the in-person board meeting, an emergency meeting was convened in the late hours of the evening for the New York representatives to talk about it with new executive director John Proffitt. No report out as to the substance of that discussion or the outcome has been made available. The photograph on the left is of the studio space, which was rapidly constructed after the station lost its temporary leased studio facilities at City College of New York. The space is not soundproofed, and has been installed in the station's unfinished space at 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. 

At Berkeley station KPFA, chemically sensitive employees and volunteers have expressed distress at some of the capital improvements that have been embarked on with bequest money left to the station in the spring. A new coat of varnish in the station's performance studio and $20,000 of new carpeting have led to reports of staffers being sickened by fumes and lack of ventilation. The two million dollar downtown Berkeley building has long been troubled by mold and water damage from its location right on top of the creek. Former employee Maya Orozco received a quarter million dollar settlement in 2011, largely due to being placed in a work space later determined to be unsafe for human habitation due to excessive mold by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

KPFA's Twit Wit Radio, a 30-minute satirical sound collage, riffed on Pacifica's upcoming local station board elections (the deadlines to register as a voter and/or a candidate are on July 14th) on June 28th. You can listen to the archived program here or on KPFA's website in the June 28th program archives.

Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at

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  1. As it's long been, a very very very slow-motion train wreck, with a very few competent and dedicated folks appearing from time to time to attempt to salvage the situation. Yet the train wreck, in all its vile wretchedness, proceeds, inexorable.

    ~ ‘indigo’

  2. At this point, anything I would say about Pathetica and WBAI would be redundant, so why bother? I'm not even inspired enough to make fun of them, as I usually do. I guess I have essentially moved on.

    Frankly, I'm more concerned that it looks like International Radio Serbia may be closed down by the end of the month.