On-air forum on Morning Show cuts

Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Aimee Allison Nov 9KPFA’s Morning Show today covered Pacifica’s laying off of the entire program’s staff, live on the air. If you missed it, here is the archived version. Morning Show staff interviewed Pacifica management live, and there were also guest appearances from Pacifica historian Matthew Laser and former Pacifica national affairs correspondence Larry Bensky were featured. Listeners calling in were outraged at the news of the firings. The photo at right is of Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Aimee Allison right before they began the day’s broadcast.

In the discussion, it became clear that under the guise of a budget crisis, Pacifica is targeting staff who have spoken out. Pacifica’s chief financial officer LaVarn Williams was unable to cogently answer questions about the budget she is in charge of, instead focusing attacks on those who have opposed her politically. Pacifica’s Arlene Engelhardt appeared not to understand the KPFA staff union contract, or have any clear understanding of KPFA’s history and listenership. Here’s video of Morning Show producer Esther Manilla putting pointed questions to Engelhardt.

SaveKPFA has called a protest today at Pacifica’s offices next door to KPFA for Tues, Nov 9 at 11am, 1929 Martin Luther King Jr Way in Berkeley. You can also call Engelhardt at (510) 849-2590, ext 208 or cell (510) 402-9880. Or write her here. | UPDATE: Thanks for coming out! Here’s a video by KPFA unpaid staffer Judith Scherr and coverage in the Daily Cal

Events will be ongoing – please sign up for our mailing list (top right side of page) to keep informed.

PRESS COVERAGE OF TODAY’S DEVELOPMENTS: Bay Citizen | San Francisco Examiner| San Francisco Chronicle blog |

Pacifica dismisses entire Morning Show staff – PROTEST 11AM Tuesday

Pacifica’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt, has axed KPFA’s Morning Show, dismissing its entire staff, and ordering it replaced with piped-in programs from KPFK, the network’s Los Angeles station.

The KPFA Morning Show is the station’s most popular locally-produced program. The show’s staff — Aimee Allison, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Laura Prives and Esther Manilla — bring in more money than any other KPFA program.

“This move shows utter incompetence,” said newly-elected SaveKPFA board member Margy Wilkinson. “KPFA desperately needs all the funding it can get. Targeting the station’s highest revenue-producing programming makes no sense at all. It is clear politics are at work here, not common sense.”

Manilla gave a first-hand account on tonight’s KPFA Evening News, saying the move came directly from Pacifica management, bypassing local KPFA managers. Manilla is a shop steward with KPFA’s staff union, CWA Local 9415. The union filed an unfair labor practice charge on Friday, charging Pacifica with unlawfully failing to bargain over alternatives to cuts.

Unpaid KPFA programmer David Bacon, who broadcasts a long-running labor segment on the Morning Show, had this exchange with Engelhardt. Morning Show staffer Brian Edwards-Tiekert posted this account.

The cuts follow less than a week after a spirited rally outside KPFA, in which listeners asked the highly-paid Engelhardt to reveal her own salary. This informative 7-minute video by KPFA reporter John Hamilton shows Engelhardt’s reaction, and clearly explains the key issues at stake.

Pacifica’s national board last week overruled KPFA’s local elected board, which had voted to support a Sustainable Budget drawn up by station staff that cuts the network’s bureaucracy instead of programming. That budget would net over $250,000 worth of cost-saving measures.

ACTION ALERT: Demand the return of the Morning Show! COME BY KPFA on TUESDAY at 11 AM. You can also write Engelhardt via this page. Call for her resignation immediately and reinstatement of the Morning Show staff. While you’re at it, demand the adoption of the Sustainable Budget. Engelhardt’s office number is (510) 849-2590, ext 208 and her cell number is (510) 402-9880.

Staff, volunteers, listeners rally to Save KPFA

Thursday’s picket in support of KPFA’s workers was a resounding success. If you only do one thing today, watch this amazing 7 minute video of the rally and see the action item at the end. (There has been high demand, so if you encounter technical difficulties, try this alternative version.) Photos are available here.

Democracy Now! staff sent a message of solidarity that was read at the rally. Many other letters of support are here and here.

ACTION ALERT: the Pacifica National Board may vote on KPFA’s budget TONIGHT (Friday). You can write them an urgent message here. Please tell them to support local programming and the hard-working staff who make it happen.

Media coverage included Berkeleyside, the San Jose Mercury News, and Radio Survivor. An important critical perspective on the crisis at Pacifica by historian Iain Boal appeared in the national journal Counterpunch.

Pacifica’s executive director Arlene Engelhardt emerged briefly from her office during the picket, and protestors began asking her questions. Key among them: “What’s your salary?” She did not answer (see her reaction to the question here). Even though Pacifica is a nonprofit corporation, it has so far refused to release information on its highly-paid management.

Engelhardt has rejected alternative budget proposals, which are backed by staff and listeners, the local station board, and KPFA management. Those proposals, called the Sustainable Budget, would reduce bureaucratic overhead rather than cut on-air programming.

WANT TO DO MORE? Come KPFA’s local board meeting, this Saturday, Nov 6. at 2 pm, at the North Berkeley Senior Center (one block north of KPFA). Please come and speak your mind.