“Let me paint a picture of where KPFA is now — because it should concern all of us — no matter which side we’re on,” writes Margy Wilkinson, chair of KPFA’s local board in an open letter to listeners. Wilkinson cites evidence of the dramatic loss of listenership following Pacifica management’s purging of the station’s most listened-to program, the Morning Show, produced by a crew of young, diverse journalists. What follows is a tale of stunningly undemocratic dirty-tricks, financial mismanagement and anti-union maneuvers that have caused KPFA listeners to demand an immediate change in Pacifica’s management — starting with the recall of Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg. | READ WILKINSON’S ENTIRE LETTER
This is a message from Brian Edwards-Tiekert, who hosts UpFront on KPFA.
If you’re a KPFA member, you should have just received what may be the most important KPFA ballot you ever get. It asks whether or not to recall Pacifica Treasurer Tracy Rosenberg. At stake is whether KPFA survives as we know it. That’s why I’m urging you to vote “yes” on the recall. | SEE RECALL ENDORSERS
Some background: Rosenberg was the chief architect of a political purge that killed KPFA’s biggest fundraiser—The Morning Show. That purge was a watershed: it was the first time the factionalism of KPFA’s board (where I served as a worker-elected representative) penetrated the station’s day-to-day operations (where I worked as a program host). Rosenberg and Pacifica used a real financial crisis as a pretext to fire their political enemies, throw us off the air, and replace us with their own supporters.
That move cost KPFA tens of thousands of listeners, and hundreds of thousands of pledge dollars. It also violated the station’s union contract – which is why Pacifica had to reverse most of the layoffs (including my own) it made in that purge.
Inside KPFA, we’ve been slowly re-building. Thanks to heroic fundraising efforts, excruciatingly long fund drives, and a windfall estate gift, we’ve managed to keep the station solvent — KPFA’s April financial statements show us almost exactly on-budget (within 0.75% of budget goals), which means we’re on track to finish the year with an operating surplus of over $150,000.
We’re moving forward: in late May, KPFA launched UpFront — a program I co-host at 7:AM. We launched on three days’ notice, with no publicity, in the final week of a fund drive. But in that first week, we still became the station’s top fundraiser, clocking $40,000 raised in the seven days we were on the air. If we can keep it up, KPFA can start shortening its fund drives and try to win back some of the listeners who’ve left.
Unfortunately, we’re poised to lose it all.
Yesterday, Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt sent a letter to KPFA’s union (and copied to Tracy Rosenberg), giving formal notice that there will be a new round of layoffs in 30 days. As long as Engelhardt is in charge of Pacifica, and taking her cues from Rosenberg, any such cuts will come in the form of another political purge. I doubt KPFA’s ability to recover from this one.
But if Tracy Rosenberg is recalled, it will send a strong message about what KPFA’s listeners will and will not stand for – it may back Pacifica off from making these unnecessary cuts, or at least from making them into a political purge. Most importantly, recalling and replacing Tracy Rosenberg should tip the balance on the Pacifica National Board, and lead to the swift departure of Pacifica’s Executive Director, Arlene Engelhardt–the most aggressively anti-union manager I’ve seen in my nine years at KPFA.
They are killing our network. The Rosenberg/Engelhardt regime has racked up massive bills from $400- to $500-per-hour law firms that Pacifica’s used to fight its unions, its dissident board members, and the organizers of this recall election. Meanwhile, Pacifica’s been routinely shorting paychecks for union members at KPFA, and fallen so far behind on payments to Free Speech Radio News that the program may cease broadcasting within a month. (And yet, somehow, Pacifica’s board majority has found tens of thousands of dollars with which to fly 22 board members from across the country to a four-day meeting in a Hotel in Berkeley next month.)
The best defense Rosenberg’s supporters have mustered is a tepid appeal to “stop the infighting”. But Rosenberg is actually one of the worst purveyors of infighting — she just happens to be doing it from a position of power, from which infighting comes in the form of politically-targeted layoffs and program changes.
Help get out the vote. KPFA elections have low turnout, and tend to be decided by relatively small margins—which is why your actions are so important. Please:
- Pass this email on to people you know who might be KPFA members.
- Go to the website www.savekpfa.org to learn more about the recall campaign.
- Most importantly, return your ballot now so you don’t forget.
Co-Host, “UpFront”, KPFA 94.1 FM
Former staff representative (2004-2010), KPFA Local Station Board
The elected Local Station Board at Pacifica station KPFK in Los Angeles has just joined KPFA’s board in passing a resolution calling on Pacifica to drop Jackson Lewis. As at KPFA, the resolution passed by an overwhelming majority. This steps up pressure on the Pacifica National Board to act now to cancel Jackson Lewis’ retainer agreement.
Got a minute to make a difference? Last time the national board met, it spent its time discussing how to block messages from listeners. This time, let’s be sure they hear the substance of our message loud and clear: fire Jackson Lewis NOW! Send your message to the Pacifica National Board by clicking here.