Thursday, December 17, 2015
Down' the Radford and other disappearing acts
Here is the December 17, 2015 Pacifica Radio in Exile newsletter. Can you feel the heat?
4 Months Further Behind
Berkeley- In this astonishing clip, IED Lydia Brazon reports to the audit committee, 4 months after predecessor John Proffitt told the national board that "things were ready to go" and the 2014 audit would be "wrapped up in a month" that only 12% of preparatory audit schedules had been sent to the auditor as of the evening of December 15th. Listening to the two sets of sound clips side by side reveals the misinformation being provided to the board of directors about the long overdue financial audit which was required to be filed with the CA Attorney General on June 30, 2015.
The November 12th judgment against the Pacifica Foundation for the defense of Dan Siegel in 2008 will cost Pacifica subscribers $95,194, according to the case docket from the US District Court. Pacifica legally defaulted after going without attorney representation for more than a year. Attorney Patrick Hackett filed a motion to withdraw as Pacifica's lawyer in September of 2014. The original legal bill of $65,000 was incurred by Siegel after he appointed himself Pacifica's national election supervisor in January of 2008 and failed to send ballots to WBAI subscribers in New York. Siegel lost the case in April of 2008.
In the lowest turnout election in KPFA's history, one half of the KPFA local station board turned over for 2016. The new board will be adding 7 members affiliated with Save KPFA (the Berkeley wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction) and 6 affiliated with United for Community Radio.The two slates split the election with UCR winning the staff election and the Siegel/Brazon faction winning the listener election. The turnout of 2,200 valid listener votes was 1,000 less ballots cast than in 2012, a 30% dropoff. The station's eligible voter count for the 2015 election dropped from 17,550 to 16,200 after the date of record was changed due to Pacifica's late mailing of ballots.
Elections continue in LA, NY Houston through January 4th. Pacifica in Exile's election recommendations for all the stations across the country can be found here. All of the endorsed candidates agree heartily that big changes are needed in the governance system including a comprehensive bylaws rewrite.
The selection of two national board affiliate members for 2016 from the 200-station network of Pacifica programming affiliates went terribly wrong as the board majority failed to announce to affiliate members that nominations were open for the seats. The board majority then appointed the only applicant who applied (apparently by private invite as no one else knew the application period was open - including the current sitting affiliate directors on the board). One of them, KFAI's Janis Lane-Ewart, was expected to re-apply.
The new board member who was appointed does not meet the bylaws requirements, as the nominating station Uhuru Radio (an Internet-only station), is operated by Burning Spear Publications LLC. Pacifica's bylaws say nominating affiliate stations must be non-profit non-commercial broadcasters. The IRS database of tax-exempt not for profit organizations shows no listing for Uhuru Radio or Burning Spear.
A preliminary financial statement issued last week by the Pacifica national office showed a massive loss of listener support dollars (i.e fund drive pledges) of $1.6 million from fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2015. The drop from $10.54 million in 2014 to $8.93 million in 2015 is nine times larger than any loss of listener support in the preceeding 4 years. Listener support was at $10.39 million in 2011.
New management was installed at both WBAI and KPFK (the stations with the two biggest declines) by then-IED Margy Wilkinson: program director Mario Murillo in New York and GM Leslie Radford in LA. Both losses are sizable based on previous trends with WBAI's listener support numbers at $2.45 million in 2011, $2.65 million in 2012, $2.48 million in 2013, $2.26 million in 2014, before skidding to $1.30 million in 2015. At KPFK, the listener support numbers are $3.15 million in 2011, $2.99 million in 2012, $3.06 million in 2013, $3.23 million in 2014 and $2.96 million in 2015. Listener support at KPFA and WPFW declined in 2015 by $74,000 and $133,000 respectively with only KPFT showing no significant decline.
KPFA's treasurer announced at the 12/12 local board meeting the Berkeley station had only $6,500 in the bank (after the 12/15 payroll), 4 days into the station's winter fund drive. The fund drive's goal was raised from the budgeted $375,000 to $450,000 . With two days to go the station sits at $280,000, or $170,000 short of the new goal. The fund drive numbers may be subject to change as daily reports have strange totals from two simulcasted shows in Northern and Southern California (Letters and Politics and Monday/Tuesday Uprising). The wildly disparate numbers suggest accounting between the two regions is getting a bit screwed up. For example; on December 14th, KPFA reported $6,300 in pledges for Uprising. KPFK reported $370. On December 15th, KPFA reported $3,250 in pledges for Letters and Politics. KPFK reported $0.
In LA, arbitration with the SAG-AFTRA union was delayed by a sick arbitrator, but in an informal sit-down, new GM Leslie Radford was told the union was "uncomfortable" with the breaking of her promise to restore union staff to full schedules by January 2016. Here is Radford's report from the 12-14 finance committee meeting.
At the same meeting, Radford stated her intention was not to pay for past-due premium gifts for subscribers unless compelled to by "legal action". KPFT treasurer Bill Crosier pointed out subscribers are unlikely to donate again if they still haven't received gifts from previous drives, but Radford stuck to her guns about not paying past due premium bills. She described the unpaid bills as totalling $70,000, which loosely represents about half a million dollars in pledges from 3,000 people. Radford's statement verges on a declaration of intent to commit mail fraud and may compel the legal action mentioned.
Radford then discloses an offer for KPFK to sell its building and then lease it back from the buyer, purchasing the same piece of property twice (if things go well).
The day after news broke that long-time KPFK overnight host Roy of Hollywood had been told "we" want him off the air by Siegel/Brazonite Chuck Anderson and found notes left on a conference room white board proposing to replace his program with DJ'ing by Radford's roommate Adam Rice, KPFK listeners demonstrated their support by pledging $5,800 to Somethings Happening over the next three nights between midnight and 6am.
Award-winning screenwriter and Connect The Dots host Lila Garrett sent out the following note via email to her program's fans: (Garrett is a former board member of the ACLU, Writers Guild of America and Progressive Democrats of America). "Note: The new General Manager of KPFK, Leslie Radford has fired our webmaster and taken over the task herself. Not only is the web not up to date, she has canceled our policy of running all of our shows for 90 days on the web so they can be heard world wide. CONNECT THE DOTS is one of her targets. Since it is the #1 hour among the once a week programs, she obviously didn’t care about its rating or value. It’s off the web. So if you want to hear the show you have to tune in at 7AM Pacific every Monday morning. She and her team have other plans for KPFK, and with Lydia Brazon at the helm as head of the National Board, the fate of the entire Pacifica Network is hanging in the balance. Our policy of speaking truth to power, peace, equality and justice is obviously hanging with it. The only way to save KPFK is to vote the present Board out and the new Board in".
Former PNB director Kim Kaufman responded to a Brazon "fact sheet" put out to dispute Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar's September article in the LA Times - in this response.
Alternative health host Gary Null, a WBAI veteran of some 30 years, may introduce some significant litigation against the Pacifica National Board in the next few weeks. Null, who has held off filing due to the national board's requests for more time, has said he is in possession of evidence that may trigger large-scale fines and regulatory heat for the organization, which has already been under CA Attorney General investigation for a year. Null's suit will not ask for monetary damages, but may risk opening a Pandora's box of other troubles if it goes forward.
Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For readers who may wish to do more, any donor to a California-based not for profit organization like Pacifica may file a complaint to the open file at the Registry of Charitable Trusts at the Office of the CA Attorney General. Pacifica's case number is CT011303. The form and instructions for filing may be downloaded here.