by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-L.A.
KPFK is heading into an election for listener and staff delegates to compose the local station board (LSB) amid turmoil. Controversies among listeners, staff, management and governance have been a regular feature at listenersponsored Pacifica, but recent personnel changes and an ongoing financial crisis have intensified matters. Listeners who have donated at least $25 or volunteered at KPFK for at least 3 hours are eligible to vote, and there is a possibility of hardship waivers of both requirements for people committed to the Pacifica mission but unable to pay or volunteer. Pacifica recently hired an Executive Director for the national foundation, John Proffitt, and a General Manager for the local station, Leslie Radford, after a protracted period of interim management at all levels. The former Pacifica National Board and former interim Executive Director had postponed elections scheduled for 2013, attributing that to financial constraints. At KPFK, the 2012 elections didn’t achieve quorum, so the entire board will be up for election this year. Nominations start in mid-June until July 14 (the “date of record” to be a listener or staff member). The election will use an option for e-voting according to current plans. A national election supervisor has been hired and the local election supervisor openings have
been posted. More information is available at http://elections.pacifica.org and will
soon be on the station’s website, http://www.kpfk.org, if it is not already.
Pacifica has had democratically-elected governance since the settlement of a number of lawsuits against the national board that arose during the Clinton administration, by listeners and local board members. New by-laws defined Pacifica as a member organization. Members are listener-sponsors (who donate at least $25 or three hours of volunteer time to the station) and staff (paid or unpaid). The LSB has 18 listener and 6 staff delegates; in KPFK’s election, half of each contingent will be elected for either a one-year or three-year term, to restore the system of staggered elections. Pacifica’s been the target of government repression, Klan violence, and its own nasty infighting for a long time. A decade
or more ago, KPFK played a significant role in uniting the anti-war movement against the invasion of Iraq, was involved in grassroots relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and routinely raised $1 million on-air in a relatively short period of time. But more recently, the station has spent more and more time in frequent on-air fund drives, requiring over 100 days a year of pitching premiums to pay its bills. The station has lost CPB funding because its audience and donor base is too small to qualify in the large LA market.
An emergency fund-drive in April kept the station afloat and able to make payroll, but the May drive was under-performing as we went to press, and was being extended. The station is saddled with debt from last year, and expenses have been over-budget all this year while listenership and donor support have stagnated. 50%+ of income goes to salaries and related expenses, and the second largest expenditure is for “development” costs, mostly purchase of “thank you” premiums. There was also an expensive management decision to use an outsourced “call service” to answer phones during the fund drives, which has now been reversed — the phone room has been computerized and listeners are again invited to volunteer to take pledge calls.
Check the station’s website for up to the minute information on the elections and how to self-nominate to run for a seat on the local station board. Please donate to keep the station on the air, and make sure you’re a member. The Pacifica National Board will have an in-person meeting here in southern CA the second weekend in June at the Peace Center, 3916 S. Sepulveda Blvd. in Culver City. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Local Station Board of KPFK is Wednesday, June 17 at 7:00 pm at the same location. The public is invited to both meetings.
Michael Novick is an elected listener delegate and treasurer of the KPFK LSB