Listeners give Pacifica an earful; how you can support KPFA

A large group of SaveKPFA supporters turned out last Friday to read a sampling of the thousands of letters sent to protest Pacifica’s slashing of KPFA’s Morning Show, and the “voluntary” departure of seven workers of color.

KPFA’s Kris Welch broadcast parts of the reading live on Living Room, and then took listener call ins. Music programmer David Gans made this recording of the demonstration outside the station.

Among the letters to Pacifica’s executive director Arlene Engelhardt was one from long-time KPFA events producer Bob Baldock: “You barged in and insulted and injured a whole lot of folks you don’t know. This is not progressive. No sanctimonious rhetoric or confused motives can justify it. No blaming it on some dubiously contrived bureaucratic board can make it all right. It is not all right. Undo it. Put our excellent Morning Show team back to work.” | read entire letter

Supporters have been circulating an online petition to bring back the KPFA Morning Show, filled with remarkable comments and signed by many activists, writers and poets, including among others, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Raj Patel, Barbara Dane, Amelia Gonzalez, Dana Frank, Norman Solomon, Gray Brechin and Susan Griffin.

Another way to support KPFA is to attend the station’s locally-planned events, such as this November 30 talk with Chris Hedges, or the KPFA 40th Annual Crafts Fair on December 11-12. All money raised at KPFA events go solely to KPFA (none to Pacifica).

Morning Show labor programmer David Bacon has published a piece about KPFA in Labor Notes. News has also broken that Pacifica is spending listener dollars on a corporate “mangement-side” employment law firm.

A group of KPFA listeners who are educators — professors, scholars, researchers, university staff and teachers — are putting together a public letter of support for the Morning Show. If you fall into this category, please send us your name and academic affiliation and we’ll send you the letter for your consideration.

Listeners at Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI, continue to protest the cancellation or shortening of many shows, including left economist Doug Henwood’s, to make way for commercialism and AIDS denial.

Pacifica management’s Morning Show layoffs violated KPFA’s contract with its union employees, and supporters fear the move will send the station’s finances into a downward spiral, leading to greater cuts. KPFA’s local board, management and workers all back an alternative sustainable budget, which Pacifica management has flatly refused to consider.

Please note: since this Friday, Nov. 26, is a holiday for many, we are cancelling our regular Friday noon action at the station. There will be an action on Friday, Dec. 3. Please stay tuned for new ways to help after the long weekend.

SIGN PETITION: We’re supporters of KPFA, and we want the Morning Show back!


Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt has abruptly laid off the entire staff of KPFA’s Morning Show and started piping in programs from Los Angeles to replace them. The Morning Show was the Bay Area’s only locally-produced non-commercial morning news and information program.

Engelhardt says she’s making the cuts out of financial necessity . . . but can’t answer why she’s taking KPFA’s biggest fundraiser off the air. Now KPFA’s morning audience has dropped, listeners are canceling donations in droves, Pacifica management has had to call off two days of scheduled fundraising, and KPFA’s union has filed legal actions over the treatment of its workers.

Other jobs and local programs at KPFA are on the line if we don’t fix this fast. Tell Pacifica: I want my Morning Show back!

Listeners outraged about layoffs, Pacifica’s hit to diversity

Thousands of listeners have called or written Pacifica’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt, objecting to the mass layoffs of KPFA’s Morning Show staff earlier this week. “As a KPFA listener-supporter since 1966, I am shocked,” wrote listener Saraswathi Devi. “Why would you terminate the staff of the station’s best money maker? …Have you forgotten the original mission of Pacifica and KPFA? It seems that you have and if so, shame on you.”

Another, Michael Eisenscher, noted that Pacifica’s action “demonstrates utter contempt for the workers, paid and unpaid, who produce the programming, for the listeners who fund the station, for the union that represents the staff, and for the very concept of ‘free speech radio.’ KPFA has not struggled to survive all these years only to be dismembered by Pacifica’s corporate-minded fools. The listeners will not stand for it.”  | READ MORE LISTENER MAIL | SIGN PETITION TO RETURN MORNING SHOW

A protest called for Tuesday drew hundreds of concerned listeners on very short notice. Meanwhile, Sonali Kolhatkar, host of the program Uprising, which is being piped in to replace KPFA’s locally produced Morning Show, declared her solidarity with KPFA staff on Wednesday, interviewing Brian Edwards-Tiekert about layoffs on Wednesday and then Engelhardt on Thursday. Engelhardt told Kolhatkar that she had been given her “marching orders” by the Pacifica National Board to slash the show, and she would not say whether the Morning Show’s union staff would be replaced by volunteers. Web audience graphs already show the loss of Morning Show listeners.

Engelhardt claims she supports diversity at KPFA, but the majority of Morning Show workers she laid off are women and people of color. All 7 staff members who have stepped forward to take voluntary severance are people of color, according to a post on One of those, Weyland Southon of Hard Knock Radio, gave this interview on why he’s leaving KPFA.

Station management has called off a fund drive scheduled for next week. Meanwhile, CWA Local 9415 (which represents KPFA paid staff) is demanding an apology from Pacifica for what it calls false charges against the union published on the network’s website.

Press coverage of the situation this week included the San Francisco Chronicle, the Huffington Post, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, as well as a lively debate between Bensky and Engelhardt on KQED’s Forum.

KEEP UP THE PRESSURE: You can reach Engelhardt at (510) 849-2590, ext 208 or cell (510) 402-9880, or write her here. Consider writing a letter to the editor or make blog postings about the KPFA situation. And be sure to sign up for SaveKPFA’s mailing list (upper right of this page) for future action alerts. AND PLEASE JOIN SaveKPFA in front of Pacifica’s offices at 1925 Martin Luther King Jr Way in Berkeley (next door to KPFA) FROM NOON TO 1 PM EVERY FRIDAY. This Friday, November 19, we will read aloud some of the thousands of messages we have received from outraged KPFA listeners objecting to the cancelling of the Morning Show. Please join us!