KPFA listeners deliver petitions demanding recall vote

Listeners Sharon Maldonado, Kim Waldron, Ying Lee & Barrie Mason (l to r) delivering petitions.

A delegation of listeners delivered a huge stack of petitions containing signatures of over 800 KPFA members during the September 10 meeting of the station’s elected Local Station Board. | KPFA News coverage (audio mp3) | Public comment (7 min audio clip)

Listeners are upset with the loss of local control at KPFA Radio 94.1 FM in Berkeley. The Pacifica network, which owns KPFA’s license, has made controversial changes to programming, including canceling the popular Morning Show at 7-9 AM, severely affecting fundraising during the station’s morning drive time. The petitions demand a vote among KPFA listener-members on the question of recalling board member Tracy Rosenberg, who has been a key ally of Pacifica’s heavy-handed management of KPFA.

“We fought — and won — a similar battle for KPFA back in 1999 when Pacifica tried to take over our station,” recalls listener-activist Barrie Mason. “Tracy Rosenberg has consistently used unethical means to undermine local control,” she added. “Removing her is the first step in saving KPFA.”

“Thousands of listeners have written, called and picketed at KPFA in recent months, demanding a return of the Morning Show and an end to Pacifica’s meddling in the station’s autonomy, but the network’s management refuses to listen,” said KPFA local board member Pamela Drake.

The charges against Rosenberg, who sits on both KPFA’s local board and Pacifica’s national board, include drawing up a secret layoff list that was used to cancel the Morning Show, pressuring Pacifica management to mount legal challenges to seating her opponents on the board (all of which were later overturned in the courts), and falsely obtaining and using KPFA listener-subscribers’ personal emails.

Local station management must review the petitions to insure that the signatures are those of actual KPFA members (people who have given at least $25 in the last year). The Pacifica bylaws simply state that a recall election will be triggered by petitions from 2% of the station’s members — in this case, less than 400 valid signatures are needed.

Audio of the entire September 10 Local Station Board meeting is available here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 [note: sounds quality improves after first few minutes].

See also: No confidence in Pacifica-appointed manager, says local board.

Impartial oversight of vote still in question

After an outpouring of listener pressure, management finally certified the recall election to proceed, but has been vague about how it will conduct the vote, or if it will follow Pacifica’s own rules and mail the ballots before year’s end. Hundreds of KPFA listeners signed the recall petition, which lays out the charges of election fraud, email theft, and the destruction of programming by Rosenberg. Hundreds more have signed a second petition demanding that a neutral third party oversee the vote.

Many who signed expressed their frustration with Pacifica’s actions against KPFA, led by treasurer Rosenberg and executive director Arlene Engelhardt. For instance, listener Fred Hosea writes: “The dysfunction, drama, loss of listener support, and mismanagement of the past year amount to an intolerable failure, with Tracy Rosenberg and Arlene Engelhardt at the corrupting center. Rosenberg must go with all due haste, with Engelhardt to follow.” | SEE PETITION OR PETITION SIGNATURES

Help SaveKPFA spread the word
To raise funds to cover possible legal costs and the expense of contacting all of KPFA’s 20,000 listeners, SaveKPFA has set up an online account for those who would like to support our work. (Of course, we encourage you to support KPFA as well.) If you’d like to be added to SaveKPFA’s endorsers’ list, please email us with your name and how you’d like to identified.

Pacifica admits it failed to deposit pension money
Pacifica has finally admitted that it was not depositing employees’ pension contributions into their accounts in a timely fashion “for the past few years.” The network has sent a memo to staff claiming it was a “misunderstanding,” and acknowledging that it must repay the missing deposits with interest. Since early October, KPFA’s union has been investigating the apparent diversion of funds, calling it a form of wage theft.