meeting Maxie Jackson, Pacifica's Executive Director

Two KPFA events:
the board meeting of June 15, and
First Impressions:
Meeting Pacifica's Executive Director Maxie Jackson

The LSB of Saturday, June 15, 2019

by Daniel Borgström

KPFA's Local Station Board (LSB) met Saturday, June 15th. Fifteen LSB members were present in the room, and three more, including Noni Session and Tom Voorhees, participated online through an audio device.

Four of our affinity group (Rescue Pacifica) were physically there sitting at the table. James McFadden, Steve Zeltzer, Frank Sterling, and me. We are a minority on this board.

There were 2 listeners in the audience who spoke during public comment; one of them Dave Rana spoke in support of Julian Assange.

Nobody from management attended. The General Manager wasn't present, and the Business Manager was attending the birth of her grandchild. So Sharon Adams gave the treasurer's report. She said she didn't have all the facts about the Pacifica loan because some of it was confidential. She then went on to tell us that the other stations of the Pacifica radio network are doing poorly, which is of course generally believed to be true. However, there was no mention of the fact that KPFA is living beyond its means, and losing a quarter million dollars a year according to a report from an independent auditor employed by Pacifica. For a discussion on KPFA sustainability
press here

It was announced that LSB members were invited to a meeting with Pacifica Executive Director Maxie Jackson on Monday, June 17th.

A town hall will be held after the scheduled August 17th LSB meeting.

At last month's (May 4th) LSB, a member of the management team expressed intentions to seek corporate funding, which would have been a huge departure from KPFA's 70 year tradition. After our report from that meeting was posted, Carol Wolfley (of the UIR/SK group) spoke with GM Quincy McCoy who told her that he is "adamantly opposed to seeking funding from any corporate interests." Carol then proposed a draft motion for the June 15 LSB meeting, which would read: "The KPFA LSB has consistently opposed corporate underwriting and we reconfirm our commitment to keeping KPFA broadcasting and media independent of corporate funding, grants, donations or gifts."

That seemed like a good motion, but we doubted that the UIR/SK group would want such a motion. Anyway, for whatever reason, it was not on Saturday's agenda.

So, just in case, we (Rescue Pacifica) had decided to bring such a motion of our own. Anthony Fest wrote it, and I presented it to the LSB.

The KPFA LSB asks the General Manager to
provide a statement explaining what
sources of donations are deemed unacceptable by the station. Are any "corporate"
contributions that the General Manager
would consider acceptable? If some
are acceptable and others not, by what
criteria does management decide?"

Several board members suggested changes, nearly all of which I agreed with. Christina Huggins (the chair) suggested addressing this to the ED in addition to the GM, and I fully agreed to that. There were also some other suggested modifications which I thought improved it. So it seemed to be headed for approval. However, in the course of the discussion, someone suggested tabling it, and Christina Huggins took up the suggestion and made a motion to table it.

Six voted in favor of tabling, and seven against tabling. (I don't think the board members online participated in this vote; apparently they'd left the meeting by then). So the four of us (Rescue Pacifica) and three from the UIR/SK voted in support of keeping it going. The upshot was that we did not vote on the motion, but agreed that we would ask this question to Maxie Jackson (the ED) on Monday.

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Our Monday meeting with Pacifica's Executive Director Maxie Jackson

MONDAY June 17th: This morning I went to the KPFA station for our meeting with the Pacifica Executive Director, Maxie Jackson. Ten of the 24 LSB members attended. These were Frank Sterling, James McFadden, Susan da Silva, Steve Zeltzer, Sharon Adams, Christina Huggins, Darlene Pagano, Carol Wolfley, Aki Tanaka and me,

Maxie Jackson has been the Executive Director (ED) for about eight months now, and probably for most of us this was our first meeting with him. He's young, looks to be about 40, and impressed me as appearing to be an energetic, capable person, also likable and charismatic.

The meeting was informal, no agenda, the purpose being that Maxie wanted to get to know the board members. Conversation went back and forth over numerous topics such as finances and programming, the diminishing of KPFA's traditional antiwar voice and station's drift towards promoting "humanitarian" intervention. Frank and Steve brought up online streaming of demonstrations and other such events. Some mentioned the disturbing fact that the LSB has still never seen the current KPFA program director, despite it being the job of the LSB to interview and evaluate persons for the PD position. Others wanted to leave programming decisions totally in the hands of management.

I got to ask the question I'd brought to the LSB on Saturday, about which donors would be considered acceptable. Maxie said he has proposed compiling a list of 100 foundations, businesses and individuals that Pacifica would consider acceptable and submitting the list to LSBs for their consideration. (For details see the March 26th Memorandum.)

Maxie had emailed us his Vision Statement which contained much material that needed to be discussed, and some listeners had gone to a lot of effort to write up and email us topics and questions to raise, but unfortunately most of that didn't get covered. With nearly a dozen of us rapidly exchanging views, time ran out, even though the meeting lasted a full two hours.

"It was a good dialogue," James McFadden said after we left. "He [Maxie Jackson] was very frank in stating his management ideas and recognizing they may not mesh with ours -- how could they with our highly opinionated and divisive LSB. I found him to be the most reasonable person in that room even though I differ with him on some issues. I thought he was very open to listen and respond."

"Maxie seems bright, analytical, and dedicated," said former LSB member Anthony Fest who had met Maxie on a previous occasion. "The concern I had was that I didn't see any place in his vision where democracy and listener participation would fit."

This meeting was an introduction. Maxie seems to be an approachable person, and my feeling was that this was a beginning, sort of a preface to future communication.

Am I overly optimistic? I guess we'll see.

Member of KPFA's Local Station Board
June 2019

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REPORT from LSB of
May 4, 2019