KPFA, the nation’s longest operating listener-sponsored radio station and flagship of the five-station Pacifica network, has faced many crises. But a plan from Pacifica national to lay off many of the station’s core staff, while ignoring more progressive solutions to a budget shortfall, could decimate programming at the venerable 61-year-old Berkeley institution.
Like other non-profits, KPFA faces decreased donations in the current economy. The national Pacifica Foundation, which owns KPFA, is responding with drastic budget cuts which would likely remove the station’s most widely listened-to broadcasters and its most effective fundraisers.
“These cuts would dramatically affect what KPFA listeners hear,” said Margy Wilkinson, a member of SaveKPFA, a slate of candidates which won a majority on the station’s local governance board election earlier this month. “Such changes would be highly counterproductive, as they would reduce listenership and diminish the station’s future ability to fundraise.”
Among the programs that may be cut are the Morning Show, Against the Grain, and the KPFA Evening News. Most of the staff on these popular programs have signed statements critical of the national board’s policies. In the wake of a misdirected email that named these employees specifically for layoff, many believe they are now being targeted for speaking out.
“The station has long been an environment where debate is encouraged and political commitment is valued,” said Max Pringle, a labor and general assignment news reporter at KPFA. “It is highly disturbing that workers who are exercising their right to free speech now face being fired, and in effect censored, by the current Pacifica management.”
SPEAK UP: write a note to Pacifica management here.