Call for “evidence-based” programming, while KPFA’s manager blames staff and listeners for funding decline

Aileen Alfandary, co-director of KPFA’s News, explained to local KPFA board members on May 21 how top-down program changes have damaged the station. | LISTEN TO 4 MINUTE AUDIO CLIP

She asked the station’s board to require management to adhere to “evidence-based” decisions, and presented the graph at the right comparing hour-by-hour fund totals for the first two weeks of the recent fund drive to those a year ago (when the Morning Show was on 7-9am).  Here’s an audio clip of Alfandary’s comments at the meeting.

Thanks to all of you who gave during KPFA’s fund drive. It was the longest in over a decade, but the projected shortfall was dramatically reduced in the final week as listeners answered a call from (supported by SaveKPFA) to pledge in support of KPFA’s staff.

Morning fundraising averages per on-air host, KPFA spring fund drive

The entire shortfall came from a decline during the morning hours of 6-10AM, in the wake of the cancellation of the Morning Show and related program moves. “Year over year, fundraising during those hours dropped by more than $5,000 per day — $90,000 over the course of the drive,” according to a detailed analysis of pledges by, “and likely would have dropped much more if KPFA programmers (and former Morning Show staffers) Philip Maldari, Mitch Jeserich, and Brian Edwards-Tiekert hadn’t stepped in to fundraise during those hours.”

Just published Arbitron ratings show that during the last 3 months, KPFA’s audience share has declined once again — a sign that listeners are tuning out. KPFA’s audience dropped from 139,200 in February 2011 to 113,100 in April 2011.

Unfortunately, during the last week of the fund drive, interim general manager Andrew Phillips unleashed an on- and off-air attack on the KPFA staff and listeners who were working so hard to raise those funds, calling them a “fifth column” which constituted an enemy within the station. Phillips was brought out from New York and installed by Pacifica’s Arlene Engelhardt as KPFA’s interim manager just 3 months ago. Here’s an audio clip, or you can watch a short video with excerpts of his performance from the board meeting captured on cell phone here or listen to the entire 4 hour recording.

Hourly average pledges during 8am "special programming" period of fund drive

Phillips, along with interim program director Carrie Core, was installed by Pacifica’s Arlene Engelhardt with no input from the KPFA community. Here’s the full story, including audio of Phillips and responses to his claims. (If you’d like to respond too, you can do so here.)

The SaveKPFA-affiliated majority on KPFA’s local station board wrote a letter to Phillips in April emphasizing the need to consult objective evidence, such as Arbitrons, in making programming changes. SaveKPFA has also presented management with its survey of nearly 1,000 listeners showing overwhelming dissatisfaction with Pacifica’s autocratic changes.