History, Finance, and Business 101
History can really be a pain to political power moves. --Richard Phelps
Losing a lot of money is losing a lot of money. Not losing a lot of money is not losing a lot of money. One can argue about many things, but not whether one is posting a big deficit or not. Either one is or one isn't. KPFA was. Now it is not. --Tracy Rosenberg
Despite all the rhetoric around the issue of finances, when one is running in the red, one does not sell the most profitable division of the business (Business 101). --Mal Burnstein
The following are letters from 3 members of KPFA's Local Station Board (LSB): Richard Phelps, Tracy Rosenberg, and Mal Burnstein. The first two are of the pro-democratic side, while Mal speaks for the "Concerned Listener"/"SaveKPFA" faction which represents the status quo group at KPFA.
On April 15, 2011, Richard Phelps wrote:
I think you need to take Radio 101 and perhaps History of KPFA 101. It appears that you are seeing the power of the morning show fundraising in the abstract and ignoring the power of its time slot. And then any comparisons currently are inaccurate since your SaveKPFA boycott of that current show makes any comparison invalid as to real potential.
And by the way, your predecessors refused to move DEMOCRACY NOW! to prime time despite a democratic vote by the program council and the LSB.
Where was your outcry for democratic local control back then and the support for LSB involvement in the station?
I believe that your predecessors favorite spin term back then was "micro managing", the LSB was to stay out of the way and let station management make all the decisions. And your folks abolished the program council's role since you weren't sure you could control it.
Your predecessors' ally Executive Director Dan Coughlin appointed your ally Jim Bennett as Interim General Manager and he refused to put DEMOCRACY NOW! in the 7-8 time slot. Despite the democratic votes and the support of the vast majority of the listeners and the Radio 101 principle that you put your best, most dynamic show in prime time, not 6 am and/or 9 am.
It was during that time when the FTEs (Full Time Equivalents) started rising as the donations were dropping. How does that square with Business 101?
The campaign to remove General Manager Roy Campanella, who was chosen by your predecessor's majority on the LSB, went into high gear when Roy announced that he was going to move DEMOCRACY NOW! to 7-8 am.
It seems that you and your predecessors have demonstrated that you believe that you are entitled to control the program grid. Why?
And your groups governance flavor of the year seems to be determined, not by principle, but by which part(s) you have control of at the time.
When the General Manager / Executive Director and/or PNB was in your pocket the LSB was a fundraising only branch of governance. Now that it is the only place you have control its stock has risen tremendously in your groups rhetoric.
History can really be a pain to political power moves. Right Mal? Or didn't your prior political organization teach the importance of history? Karl Marx thought it was super important, and yet so many of his alleged followers seem to ignore it when it gets in the way of their groups power desires.
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On April 14, 2011. Tracy Rosenberg wrote:
The facts of the matter are that last year at the six-month mark through the fiscal year, KPFA was operating at a $293,000 deficit, halfway to an annual deficit of almost $600,000.
This year, KPFA will mark the halfway point through the fiscal year with what is likely to be a small surplus (haven't seen the final figures yet, but it looks very likely).
That is a financial turnaround and stabilization after two years of basically falling off a financial cliff.
The constant aspersions that financial statements are concealing nefarious motivations are tiresome and they fly in the face of objective reality.
Losing a lot of money is losing a lot of money. Not losing a lot of money is not losing a lot of money. One can argue about many things, but not whether one is posting a big deficit or not. Either one is or one isn't. KPFA was. Now it is not.
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On April 14, 2011, Malcolm Burnstein wrote:
I appreciate your taking the time to respond to a listener -- even if it through SaveKPFA. It has been some time since the management of the station honored the listeners even that much.
I have a major problem with one aspect of the response, however. You came to the station very recently; some time after the Morning Show was terminated. You have no real knowledge of the cause or reason for the termination. I do not mean to be disrespectful when I say that you parrot the trite, and overworked mantra: " the Morning Show was cut for financial reasons." The fact is that that is not the way many of us see it, and your repetition of it merely makes us doubt that you have been given the freedom to actually manage the station.
You know how disastrous the morning drive figures were during the last pledge drive compared with 2010. You know that the Morning Show was a very successful fund engine. Why, many ask, would a station in financial difficulty, cut costs by eliminating it's most financially productive component? To continue to repeat the "financial reasons" meme, then, robs you of credibility with many listeners, and with LSB members. If you are truly free to manage please demonstrate that fact by keeping an open mind to the composition of the 8-9 AM slot. What is there now is an embarrassment.