KPFA's LSB & Pacifica Financial Crisis

Report from KPFA's Local Station Board meeting of September 10, 2016, including information on KPFA/Pacifica Finances

by Sharon Adams

In this Newsletter:
Report on the KPFA Local Station Board meeting held on Sept. 10, 2016, and discussion of financial crisis at Pacifica and KPFA.


The Local Station Board ("LSB") met for a regularly-scheduled meeting on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. After some technical difficulties with the remote-access link, the meeting finally started around 11:25. Many community member, listeners, and unpaid staff showed up for the meeting.

Roll-Call and Membership of LSB

Two people resigned from the LSB -- Brian Edwards-Tiekert resigned from his position as staff member and Leland Thompson resigned from his position as a listener member of the LSB. Both Edwards-Tiekert and Thompson are members of "S"K.** This left 2 vacancies on the LSB, to be filled by the "highest ranked candidate from the last election" per Article 4, §10 of the Pacifica Bylaws. The results from the last election are shown in the photo to the left.

Listener Member of the LSB -- UCR member T.M. Scruggs was the first runner-up. However, Scruggs is already a member of the LSB. He was seated on the LSB to fill the vacancy when Andrea Pritchett left earlier this year. UCR member Don Macleay is the next runner-up, but since he is currently running for a seat on the Oakland Unified School District board, he is disqualified from serving on the KPFA LSB, per Pacifica Bylaws, Art. 4, §2. The next runner-up is Yuri Gottesman, a member of "S"K. He was not at the September LSB meeting, apparently because he was not asked prior to the meeting. Although some people seem to find much to complain about in this scenario, the fact is that there was one less "S"K representative at the LSB meeting because neither Thompson nor Gottesman was there.

Staff Member of the LSB -- The same analysis applies to the vacancy created by Edwards-Tiekert's resignation. He is a member of "S"K and will be replaced by staff member Lewis Sawyer, also a member of "S"K. Because neither Sawyer nor Edwards-Tiekert was there, "S"K had one less person representing their interests at the last LSB meeting.

Public Comments

Several people spoke during the Public Comment period. Here is a sampling paraphrasing some of the comments:

-- "The General Manager was not at the recent graduation of the apprentices, and neither was anyone else from management."

-- "Saddened to hear about the resignation of Pacifica's Chief Financial Officer."

-- "Even with the financial crisis, there is no reason for General Manager Quincy McCoy to say that KPFA may have to close its doors. The unpaid staff already provide all of the programming from 7 pm to 7 am, and almost all of the weekend programming (except for Philip Maldari). So, is Quincy talking about shutting KPFA during the hours of 7 am to 7 pm? The truth is that listeners may not hear their favorite programmers, but the station does not need to close!"

-- "McCoy's memo said KPFA may accept underwriting or have to close the station. These are not the only choices."

-- "The GM wasn't at the apprenticeship graduation."

Community Advisory Board Report

The CAB report discussed finances, noting that 65% of the KPFA budget, or around $2 million, is spent on staff pay and benefits. There are ~200 unpaid staff at KPFA who produce the majority of the programming. The CAB report noted that many community radio stations run on a much lower budget, typically because of much lower expenses for pay and benefits. The CAB report asked: "Does KPFA want to be a community radio station or a public radio station?" The difference is that a community radio station is supported by the community. A public radio station is dependent on government funding, and underwriting.

General Manager's Report

Once again, General Manager Quincy McCoy was not at the LSB meeting. The reason given this month was that McCoy was busy with the fund drive, and meeting potential donors. However, almost every month there seems to be some reason why McCoy can't be there. After the GM's report was read into the record, I commented that given the financial crisis, it's important for McCoy to be at the LSB meeting, and to ensure that he makes time for attending the LSB meetings.

The GM's report noted that the fund drive was moved up one week, due to the financial crisis, and that as of Friday, Sept 9, the fund drive had raised $150,000 of its goal of $680,000. He noted that even if the fund drive meets its goal, the November cash balance will be negative, as shown in cash flow balance photo.

McCoy asked the LSB to help with fundraising. In response to this request, a fundraising task force was created. Sharon Adams, Carole Travis, Frank Sterling, and Tim Lynch agreed to be on this fundraising task force.

Motion for Additional Meeting in October.
The LSB did not have a meeting scheduled for October. Given the severe financial crisis facing KPFA and Pacifica, UCR member Anthony Fest made a motion that the LSB hold an additional meeting on Oct. 22. This motion passed with support from both UCR and "S"K.

Treasurer's Report

The treasurer's report confirmed the theme of the meeting -- KPFA is in financial trouble. There is a deficit of $225,000 projected for the end of the fiscal year, which ends in October 2016.

Pacifica National Board Report and Discussion of Pacifica Issues

There was discussion of the status of Pacifica's audits. According to the report presented by Margy Wilkinson (one of KPFA's reps on the PNB) the 2014 audit is done, but is hung up in Pacifica's audit committee. There is not enough money to pay the auditors for the 2015 audit. The PNB had voted to use $50,000 to pay the auditors. But, Interim Executive Director Lydia Brazon used that money to pay election expenses. Of course, that wasn't enough to cover all the election expenses, and the National Election Supervisor, as well as the Local Election Supervisors at each station, have not been fully paid for the work they have already done.

Pacifica owes $20,000 for the 2014 audit, but the auditors are willing to release this audit without payment in full. However, they are insisting on a payment of $15,000 to start the 2015 audit. In addition, $15,000 is needed to pay for Directors & Officers insurance. The D&O insurance is scheduled for renewal on 10/1. However, this will not be renewed unless the 2014 audit is finalized and released. The hope is that this will happen, and that the D&O insurance will be renewed.

The Pacifica Radio Archives ("PRA") has no money to pay salaries or benefits for the month of September. KPFW is 3 months behind on its rent. WBAI has no money to pay rent for the radio tower located at the top of the Empire State Building. The debt (as distinct from the deficit) of Pacifica is between $5-6 million.

The PNB also approved the creation of a task force to work out an underwriting policy for Pacifica. Members of the KPFA LSB noted that here is widespread opposition to underwriting. It was pointed out that the underwriting policy could be that Pacifica will not accept underwriting. Another option mentioned was that the policy could allow for underwriting by small local businesses. It was noted that KPFA already thanks on-air local businesses that donate food during fund-drives.

PNB Vacancy -- There is a vacancy on the PNB due to the resignation of Brian Edwards-Tiekert from the LSB. The LSB will hold an election to replace Edwards-Tiekert at the October LSB meeting.

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** We at UCR use "S"K to refer to Save KPFA. "SaveKPFA" was first used in the 1990s to represent the thousands of people who poured into the streets to protect Free Speech Radio on KPFA. That group disbanded after successfully removing a self-selecting board, and opening up the airwaves. Then, many years later, a group called "Concerned Listeners" appropriated the name Save KPFA, and began using it to identify their viewpoint. However, many members of United for Community Radio were members of the original Save KPFA, and supported (and support) the views of the original Save KPFA. This Newsletter was written by Sharon Adams, currently serving on the KPFA Local Station Board, and a member of United for Community Radio.


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This Newsletter is not an official publication of the Pacifica Foundation or a any of the five Pacifica Radio Stations (KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WBAI, WPFW). Opinions and facts stated herein belong to the author and should not be assumed to reflect the editorial stance or policy of the Pacifica Foundation, any of the five Pacifica Radio Stations, the Pacifica National Board, or radio station staff. This disclaimer is required by the Pacifica Foundation.


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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.