Monday, September 26, 2016

Pacifica in Exile - September 25, 2016

PNB Call Disrupted Again

Berkeley - Ballots mailed for Pacifica's 2016 board elections from the East Coast on August 15th. Pacifica in Exile's candidate endorsements for all stations can be found here. You will find online voting instructions inside your printed ballot envelope. The voting period ends on September 30 at 11:59pm in your own time zone. If you donated, but don’t receive a ballot or for any ballot-related question at any station, you can contact King Reilly, a KPFK member who has graciously agreed to assist folks, at

For more on our endorsed slates of candidates, see the Committee to Strengthen KPFKMove KPFT ForwardUnited for Community Radio (KPFA), and WBAI Indy Caucus websites.

Since Pacifica seems to be delinquent on a 9/15 payment to election vendor True Ballot, we cannot assure you if/when votes will be counted or if the election will be delayed, but we encourage you to cast your ballot by the September 30 deadline, as it is impossible to predict if ballots will be accepted after that date or not.

Click on above image to enlarge it
After the fragile state of Pacifica's endangered archives became a national story in the last month, close to a dozen Pacifica archival tapes appeared for sale on The 11 items are master tapes from the 1960's and all were placed for sale in the last week by the same seller, a Watsonville resident with the nom de plume "scoldguy11". Scoldguy replied to an inquiry from a Pacifica member about how he came into possession of the tapes by saying they were purchased from a Los Angeles storage locker. The Pacifica Archives kept some of its collection in off-site storage with a monthly bill of $1,900 accrued for off-site archives storage. The sudden appearance of the tapes on E-Bay may indicate the storage bill was not paid after the June 30 departure of archives director Brian De Shazor -- and the contents in off-site storage sold off by the vendor. Inquiries regarding how much of the archival collection was kept in off-site storage and what may have been the extent of the possible loss have been unanswered by the national board and executive director to date. 

The national board met on September 22nd in a highly-anticipated discussion about leasing out NY station WBAI. The call invited members of the WBAI local station board, but continued to exclude 4 national directors elected from WBAI in January, who have been excluded all year from the national board. The PNB majority claimed it was to avoid "disruption", but lo and behold conference call provider Loop Up had a little bit to say about that. They pulled the plug on the call, disconnecting all the callers and shutting down the phone line after a particularly silly 30-minute fight about when to meet next. You can listen to a 20-minute summary reel here. 

As expected, almost all of the WBAI visitors spoke against a lease of the station. ED Brazon stated she was "open". Some mild chaos broke out when WBAI Indy caucus member Jim Dingeman brought up the missing CPB grant money, three years of audit failure having cost WBAI between half a million and three quarters of a million dollars and Pacifica as a whole, $2.5 million dollars.

The conference call system conked out as the board was arguing over when to continue the meeting on the subject and trying to schedule a closed session, apparently having had enough of talking about the subject in open session. The eagerness to take the subject behind closed doors by the Siegel/Brazon faction was very different than in 2013, when then-board member and now unofficial-corporate-counsel Dan Siegel threatened the PNB to have all lease-related conversations in open session - or else. The PNB has not responded to why they would ignore their corporate counsel's advice, or if that advice is changeable depending on whether the board majority is Siegel/Brazon-affiliated. 

Here is Siegel's December 2013 e-mail  

From: Dan Siegel 

To: Pacifica National Board 
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2013 19:55:13 -0800
Subject: Meeting to discuss LMAs

Dear Colleagues,

I will not be participating in a closed session meeting to discuss LMA proposals to run WBAI. I think that the meeting is unlawful as a violation of the board's obligation to conduct the Foundation's business in public.

First,  the PNB must decide in public whether to have an LMA to run WBAI. I have heard no explanation from anyone as to why this issue is one for closed session.

Second , the proposals themselves must be discussed in public. The analogy in the public sector is a public agency considering bids to build a road or buy a computer system.

If people do not accept my view of the law you should consult an attorney. Pacifica cannot continue to violate the law on this issue. Board members who do put themselves and Pacifica in jeopardy and create a situation where any decision they make will be successfully challenged in court.


The national board seems to be stuck in a cycle, repeatedly requesting over and over again 30-60-90 days plans to manage cash flow, impose expense reductions and generate more revenue and never getting anything but Brazon's vague one-page specials. One attempt, at least the fourth one, was a motion passed on September 1st saying "the PNB will direct the iED to direct the management of all units of Pacifica to come up with 30-60-90 day plans for increasing revenues and reducing expenses during the remainder of this fiscal year and the beginning of the next and submit those plans in the next two weeks". On September 15th (in closed session), the board "directed the IED to order the general managers to pay the network shared services and archives dues they owe for 2016". 

National Board chair Tony Norman weighed in at a finance committee meeting saying "all these great ideas and motions these committees pass and the PNB pass mean nothing if our executive officers do not implement these ideas. That's a big problem that we're having. Somebody making sure that these things get done and its not happening on the general manager level or on the general executive level". Norman seemed to forget that he *is* an executive officer, the PNB supervises the executive director, and the executive director in turn supervises the general managers.

Los Angeles station KPFK recently lost a large multi-grievance union arbitration with the station's SAG-AFTRA bargaining unit after new manager Leslie Radford imposed unilateral work hour reductions, fired two employees and denied severance benefits. The settlement amount is at least $200,000 and will include back pay to approximately 20 employees whose hours were cut, the re-hire of two fired employees and the payment of at least four previously denied severance packages. ED Brazon has still not shown the final settelement agreement to the board of directors. In Radford's proposed 2016-2017 budget, she attempted to pay for her labor law violations in three ways:
  1. Ending all dependent health benefit coverage for full-time and part-time station           employees at KPFK. 
  2. Deferring overdue premium purchases to 2017, thus leaving some donors with 2-year+ waits for products paid for in 2015
  3. Deferring shared network services payments to Pacifica's national office in the amount of $200,000, thus doubling KPFK's already-existing $250,000 debt to national to almost half a million dollars by the end of 2017.
Radford disassociated from her own actions, blaming the arbitration loss on former ED John Proffitt. Proffitt  was prevented from hiring his choice of a general manager for KPFK by Margy Wilkinson's abrupt hire of Radford while he was driving across the country to take over as the executive director. Internal Pacifica paperwork implementing the involuntary pay cuts in August of 2015 (that now have to reimbursed per the arbitration order) were signed by Radford and then board-chair Lydia Brazon, with Brazon assuming the title of executive director somewhat prematurely on the form.

Members of Brazon and Radford's faction, called the Grassroots Community Radio Coalition, echoed Radford's truculent stand at the station's last local board meeting, declaring costs incurred by Radford should not be "shouldered" by KPFK and should be "distributed" to the network's other 4 radio stations.

Radford also threatened that if she is not "allowed" to withhold $200,000 of KPFK's 2016-2017 shared service payments that she will "shut off" the station's repeater signals in Malibu, China Lake and Santa Barbara, although it is not clear how doing so would generate more income.

The Fresno Free College Foundation, the nonprofit that runs KFCF, a Fresno-based station that repeats KPFA's programming and has an associate station seat on KPFA's local board, passed a resolution on September 20th urging the Pacifica National Board to explicitly deal with the financial crisis and implicitly criticizing Brazon's recovery plan. It says: The Fresno Free College Foundation posts with the strongest urgency that the Pacifica National Board take action immediately to present a complete and comprehensive financial recovery plan". The text of the whole resolution can be read here. 

KFCF repeats about 80% of KPFA's program schedule and receives about 75% of its income from pass-through pledges that are called into KPFA's on-air fund drives and then remitted to KFCF, which total about 5-7% of each KPFA fund drive's receipts. Fresno-area donors receive voting rights in KPFA local board elections and an extra seat on the KPFA local station board (currently and for much of the last decade filled by the station's one employee, manager Rych Wythers). The last 990 posted online for 2013-2014 indicates total revenue of $169K for the Fresno Free College Foundation. KFCF pays a monthly satellite transmission fee of around $1,500 and receives something like $100-$150K in passed through donations from KPFA. The transactions are not recorded in Pacifica's financial books, so there is no way to know the exact amount. 

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  1. Let me get this straight. Radford makes unilateral cuts, loses the arbitration, blames J. Profitt for not showing the books to the union and then demands that the other stations pay for her mistakes by deducting the settlement from central services payments. Amazing. Perhaps its KPFK that should get the LMA instead of WBAI.

    Even with all the issues at WBAI, our deficit roughly equals what we would have received in CPB funds. While the PNB complains about a transmitter contract at WBAI that they approved, they have nothing to say about the actions at KPFK which have a greater impact on the network including a potential signal loss in Malibu and Santa Barbara. When the PNB finishes their special meetings on WBAI, I hope they have one for KPFK so I can hear from those like KPFK LSB candidate Bella De Soto who support shifting the cost of the settlement to the network.

    1. Amazing and true—which makes it even more amazing.

      As I post this response, Michael, the station has been off the air for over 2 hours and it appears thare is no stream, either.

    2. It is 1:15 PM on Monday, Sept. 26, and WBAI is still off of the air.

  2. Those Pacifica tapes being auctioned will probably be better cared for in private hands, when you think about it.

    Do you think Radford will eventually use The Twinkie Defense?

    I'm wondering if WBAI's silent carrier affects the two SCA sidebands for the Spanish and Italian Catholic stations they have on them. I don't know the technology of how the SCA broadcasts are added to a station's signal. I would imagine if WBAI's transmitter is actually shut off, they too will be off the air. However, in the case of the carrier being on but silent, I wonder if they are piped through to the sidebands independent of WBAI's stream.



  3. Depends on a number of factors.
    If the carrier is off the air, then the SCAs are not on the air.
    Depending on how WBAI gets the signal to the transmitter is the next question. If the exciter and SCA generating equipment is at the ESB, then the SCAs could still be on the air, if their method of delivering audio is intact. If all of the WBAI stuff is fed to the ESB by a microwave Studio to Transmitter Link, and it is a Multiplex signal (stereo, pilot, SCAs) already all combined it would depend on whether the STL is still up,if the SCA programming is still intact. If the programming is fed by phone lines, and they are down, it may be off the air.

  4. Very sad.

    "Mr Kokoschka, it just happened again (sad, so sad)
    They struck the museum like a hurricane (sad, so sad)
    All of our culture, it's dead and it's gone (sad, so sad)
    From Babylon, baby, back to Babylon (sad, so sad)"

    Chumbawumba, "On Ebay".

    And you can see them now on Ebay -- search for "kpfa archive master" -- there are 16 items, all with auctions ending this evening. Better hurry!

    Sad, so sad -- today it's the archives, tomorrow the microphones. What am i bid?


    1. I wonder how the real owners of this recorded material feel. I would not be surprised if selling some of these tapes does not constitute a breach of a law, or two.

      WBAI's DVD/CD duplicating machine was quite clearly used to infringe copyright.

  5. re KPFK union busting, er, staff layoffs: Sock puppet Radford was 1) being "advised" by legal counsel Dan Siegel and 2) Lydia Brazon sent the order to make all full-time staff into part-time staff, thus it was her direct action that caused violations of the SAG-AFTRA union contract. Lydia was acting iED while John Proffitt was on vacation and who they're now trying to blame. It was her Lydia's responsibility to send the financial books to the union that they requested. And thus the $50,000 penalty from the arbitration was Lydia's fault (presumably on advice from legal eagle Dan Siegel). Lydia said at the last KPFK LSB meeting that the NO would take care of the $50,000 penalty "if it could pay for it." Which it clearly can't.

    Lydia Brazon has done enormous damage to KPFK in the last three years of her majority. The question is: why? Who benefits?