Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Exiles see the sun
March 1, 2017
Sunshine in Los Angeles
Berkeley - A turbulent 21 months at KPFK in Los Angeles has come to an end with a change in the station's general manager position made on February 27, effective immediately. Leslie Radford was hired in May of 2015 to be KPFK's general manager by outgoing IED Margy Wilkinson on Wilkinson's last day. The hire was against the wishes of incoming executive director John Proffitt, who was literally driving from Texas when Wilkinson made the hire. Proffitt had asked Wilkinson to allow him to interview the KPFK candidates, but she did not do so and hired Radford, a former Siegel/Brazon-affiliated national board member, to the KPFK job.
Radford's tenure was marked by a huge judgement for labor contract violations, won by SAG-AFTRA in arbitration in mid-2016. The $285,000 assessment included back pay, severance awards and penalties in response to dozens of grievances filed after Radford imposed involuntary pay cuts, laid off two employees and denied severance benefits in the fall of 2015. Proposed KPFK budgetary plans for 2017 (never approved by the national board) further punished KPFK employees with the loss of all spousal and dependent child health care coverage.
In a press release put out by the Pacifica Foundation, new interim ED Bill Crosier commented: "KPFK is an important part of the Pacifica Foundation, and is our biggest and most powerful station in the second biggest media market in the United States. The station has been through some difficult times recently. I want KPFK to take a leadership role, both within our radio network as it recovers, and in the Southern California media landscape as the country meets the challenges presented by the Trump administration. This change will position KPFK to do so”
Long-time staffer Christine Blosdale has taken over the KPFK general manager position on a temporary basis.
The morning after the change in management at KPFK, the station's legendary overnight host Roy of Hollywood, returned in a 40th anniversary celebration that was extra joyous due to the unexpected return to the midnight time slot. The program's listeners responded with one-night donations in excess of $4,000. Something's Happening had been bifurcated to 3am to 6am for the last year in order for Radford to put on a melange of new programs under the name Safe Harbor, a reference to the FCC relaxation of rules on broadcast profanity during the late night hours. Safe Harbor took full advantage, making a specialty out of indulging in as much on-air profanity as humanly possible, generating numerous listener complaints and few listener donations. Some of the new shows also had problems with plugola (on-air promotions) and copyright infringement, particularly volunteer coordinator Adam Rice's Music to Resist By, with Rice unaccountably posting programs with copyrighted music on the Internet Archive in KPFK's name and ducking Soundexchange reporting requirements for Internet streaming. Rice has been suspended from KPFK until further notice. Other displaced programmers from the year-old Safe Harbor block have been invited to submit requests for new time slots to interim program director Alan Minsky.
Pacifica received some great news from the Office of the California Attorney General which gave a six-month extension to submit the fiscal year 2015 financial audit, which has not been started 9 months after it was due. The extension follows a series of scary letters in December and January threatening the loss of nonprofit status and an AG meeting with the board's 2016 officers in mid-January that was concealed from incoming directors. The California AG requested the submission of a written plan for re-establishing Pacifica's financial stability and proof of replacement of restricted funds used inappropriately by the previous regime, by the end of March.
New IED Crosier has implemented a nationwide fundraising day on Thursday March 2 to raise funds to immediately proceed with the delinquent audits. The "audit fundraiser", first proposed by the WBAI Community Advisory Board in December, will feature voices of resistance from the Pacifica Archives with original programming simulcast on WBAI, WPFW, KPFT and KPFK all day. KPFA will maintain its regular fund drive programming, but donate the day's proceeds to the dedicated fund.
The special day of fundraising has been given a huge head start by a generous $86K gift from a long-time WBAI supporter who is providing a match fund for the whole day or until the funds are all used up.
So every donation up to $86K will be matched at 100% of its value, netting Pacifica at least $172K to dedicate to cleaning up the accounting once and for all and preserving the network's tax-deductible status.