KPFA is doing well right now, with an upcoming budget under consideration by the Local Station Board (LSB). But problems elsewhere in the Pacifica network continue.
Financial support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for all five Pacifica stations is being withheld, after the network was cited in an audit for “insufficient accounting practices, misreported revenues and failure to comply with CPB rules on open meetings and financial transparency,” according to Current, an online magazine covering public broadcasting published by American University. At the same time, CPB ombudsman Joel Kaplan published a series of two reports (here and here) about questionable fundraising practices at Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI.
In our last issue, we reported that Pacifica’s interim executive director Summer Reese, who also serves as chair of the Pacifica National Board (PNB), had unilaterally put KPFA’s interim general manager Andrew Phillips on leave, even after KPFA’s elected LSB passed two resolutions overwhelmingly objecting to her actions, and hundreds of listeners signed this petition.
Radio historian Matthew Lasar interviewed Phillips, who makes it clear that Pacifica’s move to oust him is thoroughly political. “For about a year, remembering that I was employed by Arlene Engelhardt at Pacifica, I basically did her bidding,” Phillips told Lasar, saying he “realized over time that what she’d expected and what she implemented was the wrong strategy.” He explains why in this frank and revealing interview.
Pacifica’s Reese, whose supporters currently control the PNB, is also refusing to initiate this year’s bylaws-mandated elections, in what appears to be an attempt to prevent members from exercising their right to elect new leadership. Listeners have been signing this petition, initiated by Grassroots KPFK, urging that the election process be started immediately.
Meanwhile, layoff notices went out to all staff Pacifica’s WBAI in New York City last month. The station has long been running huge deficits, a situation compounded by unwise changes in programming and a declining listener base. “The status of Pacifica’s ability to cope with the situation is unclear,” writes Matthew Lasar in his RadioSurvivor blog. The cuts, which must be negotiated with the staff union, AFTRA, are expected to save $900,000 a year, according to Current.
In better news, the Pacifica Radio Archives, a separate unit at the network that preserves historic recordings, has won a $128,000 grant from the National Archives and Records Commission to save over 1,600 tapes in a project called “American Women Making History and Culture: 1963-1982.”