What is at stake at KPFA

This is from five years ago; Pacifica has changed executive directors several times since then, but the basic issues remain the same.

by George Reiter
Chair, Pacifica National Board
November 20, 2010

What is at stake in the conflict at KPFA? It is not the continued existence of the Morning Show. It will be back with new hosts. It is not the competence of the hosts. By all accounts, they did a fine job. It is not whether there will be local programming at KPFA. Local programming has been a mainstay of the Pacifica Network and will continue to be.

What is at stake is the financial viability of the Pacifica Foundation, and its ability to manage the stations in the network. That viability depends on the ability of each of the stations to raise sufficient money to meet payroll and expenses. That hasn't been happening at KPFA for at least two years.

The board in 2009 mandated reductions in staff that the management at the time didn't make and the ED didn't enforce. The cash reserves of KPFA, about $800,000 dollars in 2009, are now gone, The board has again this year observed that reductions had to be made, and our Executive Director is seeing to it that it happens.

She has the unanimous support of the board for the principles that she laid out for the reductions, respect for seniority, the best interests of KPFA and the network, maintaining the programming grid where possible, and keeping the strongest possible skill set at the station.

The Pacifica Foundation owns the licenses for all five stations. Should one station failing to meet its expenses drain the resources of the network past what can be sustained by the remaining stations, the entire network will be bankrupt and the fate of all five stations will be in the hands of a bankruptcy court judge. The board has the responsibility of seeing to it that that doesn't happen.

Some have attempted to make the salary of the national staff, consisting of an ED, a CFO, two accountants, an administrative assistant, two part time technical workers and an affiliates station coordinator, an issue. Or the in person meetings of the board now costing half of what they cost for the previous 6 years. This level of staffing the salaries and the expenses are minimal in managing a $12 million dollars/year enterprise. To the extent that this accusation stems from a desire to have no national collective supervision, and ultimately no network but a collection of five independent stations, this is misguided both in purpose and strategy. The times require a national network, and the outcome of bankruptcy hearings will not be five progressive stations running their own affairs, but more likely two commercial stations and three new Christian radio channels.

KPFA has been a bulwark of the network in the past. The farsightedness of the leadership created and then supported the growth of the other stations. The network has been a strength for all of us, recently when money had to be transferred from KPFT to pay salaries at KPFA, and in the past when contributions from the other stations kept KPFT on the air.

I ask that you support the Pacifica National Board and its Executive director Arlene Englehardt in maintaining the financial viability of the Pacifica Foundation and its ability to manage and develop the network.

Chair, Pacifica National Board

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KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network which are located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.

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