With the Pacifica stations under-supported, sharing their steadily diminishing incomes with outside charities is folly. This is especially inadvisable during a station fund drive that already is destined to fail. WBAI's drives are now routinely extended and the human element that originally characterized these annual marathons has been replaced with endlessly repeated hour-long, dishonest infomercials that amount to marketing of products and services, most of which are available to the listener elsewhere and at a fraction of the pitched price. There is also good reason to believe that these commercials increase the station's losses by further discouraging the exodus that has brought total listenership to an all-time low.
Currently, listeners are told that 50% of select purchases will go to help Haitian earthquake victims or protesting Native Americans in North Dakota, a claim that some meet with understandable skepticism, considering WBAI's history of collecting money for products never mailed. Since only relatively small amounts can be piggybacked to worthy (some say, worthier) causes, one might also wonder if exploitation enters into the equation. After all, WBAI now seems to be focused on exploitation with its often exaggerated gloom and doom marathon leitmotif.
The legality of this double decker fundraising approach is still a question—it can be done legitimately, but there are procedures to be followed and Pacifica is notorious when it comes to following guidelines.
Kim Kaufman, who sits on KPFK's Finance Committee was curious when she heard Margaret Prescod give a benevolent shout-out to the people at Standing Rock, so she sent the following to to the station's manager, Leslie Radford. It opened up an exchange that you might find illuminating. Be sure to open the link attached by Tracy Rosenberg—it has the pertinent figures.
- Were waivers gotten from the FCC to raise money for third parties in Haiti and Standing Rock?
- Margaret said all the money donated was tax deductible. I believe she said the funds for Haiti were going to Partners in Health. Is that where it is going? She said the people at Standing Rock need things like water, beds, tarps, blankets, school equipment, etc. She did not name any third party organization. To whom or which organization will receive these funds or is KPFK going to purchase these items and ship them to North Dakota?
- Your budget is based on a ratio of premiums at about 5% of the listener support money raised (not pledged) in FY2017. (Historically it has been closer to 12%). The Haiti and Standing Rock pitches were at 50%. Why was this decision made to send 50% of the money we raise outside of our own organization which desperately needs the money? This need for KPFK includes:
- You show a deficit for November in your budget which means you cannot pay bills at the end of November (or earlier, depending on how reliable one believes FY2016 numbers are);
- About $70k is still owed to listeners for premiums from FY2015;
- $250,000 is owed to the National Office from FY2015.
- The FY2017 budget presently includes only paying 50% to the National Office. You have said you will shut down the phones, computers, translators/repeaters/ booster and on-air programming from midnight to 6 am, among other things, if you have to pay this.
- Five days were added to this 22 day fund drive, budgeted at 138 days for the year (now at 143 days), to make up for the additional funds KPFK will be sending to Haiti and South Dakota.
General Manager, KPFK 90.7FM
Another letter from Tracy to the KPFK GM:
Monday, October 30, 2016