and Open to the Community
KPFK – Under New Management
By Michael Novick, KPFK interim General Manager
Change Links has carried many articles with my byline before, but this one is unique. I am writing to you as the new unpaid interim General Manager of KPFK. I was recently appointed to that position by the Pacifica Executive Director, Stephanie Wells. She and the Pacifica National Board determined that there was no money to hire a GM for the station currently or for the near future. I agreed to take on this challenging responsibility and opportunity out of my love for KPFK and Pacifica, and its mission of free speech, and of examining and helping to resolve the causes of racial, religious, national, and other conflicts. I am of course giving up my position as chair of the Local Station Board, but I will continue as an ex officio, non-voting member of the LSB in my position as iGM. The board will elect a new chair this month.
KPFK is needed more than ever in the current climate of war, incipient fascism, a reckoning with racism, and growing economic inequality. Listener sponsored non-commercial educational KPFK is one remaining broadcast beacon for independent inquiry, creative cultural expression, and a commitment to peace and justice. Yet amid the general economic crisis accentuated by the pandemic and by the war in Ukraine, the station has fallen on hard times and lost its basic lifeline of community support and engagement. As iGM, I intend to turn that around.
Among the first steps we undertake will be a collaborative effort with the station’s small paid staff and many unpaid programmers, producers, and other volunteers, along with the elected delegates of the listeners and staff who serve on the Local Station Board. We will identify the station’s strengths, and the highest priority needs, and chart a course for using what we have in order to get where we want and need to go. We must restore KPFK as an impactful, respected platform for incisive political commentary and analysis, local, national and international investigative journalism, creative cultural expression, community voices and solutions to economic, environmental, and social ills.
We will need your help, in bringing in new voices and a new generation of listeners and content providers. Help us to share and promote our content across social media. We need people who can rebuild the network of “Friends of KPFK” across the southland, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, East Los, South LA and the west side. There are also still openings on the KPFK Community Advisory Board, to conduct a community needs assessment and evaluate how well the station’s programming meets those needs. You can reach me at GM@kpfk.org, if you are interested in getting involved or if you have other ideas and suggestions.
We will begin immediately to air regularly the mandated management report to the listener regularly, and take your calls live on the air. We all also air a similar report and opportunity for listener feedback with the elected Local Station Board. And we will look for your help in evaluating and improving programming, as well as in raising funds, particularly by attracting large numbers of new listener-sponsors and sustainers. Stay tuned to KPFK, 90.7 FM here in Los Angeles, and on-line at KPFK.org.
Please join me in this effort to revive and renew Pacifica’s KPFK, your Key to Peace, Freedom & Knowledge. We are radio powered by the people – that’s you! We can’t afford to lose this precious resource, built over decades by the sweat and tears of hundreds of unpaid and paid programmers, producers and other staff, and the donations and contributions of tens of thousands of listener-sponsors. KPFK is truly a broadcast commons; please help it to survive and thrive.
Here’s the statement I sent to current & former KPFK listener members
Dear listeners and friends of KPFK,
KPFK and Pacifica are starting a new fiscal year, and I am starting a new job to ensure that it is a successful one. I am Michael Novick, the new interim General Manager at KPFK, formerly the chair of the Local Station Board. I am writing to introduce myself to you all and initiate a process where we communicate more regularly and effectively. Although I have been a supportive listener-sponsor for decades, and an elected listener delegate on governance, and I volunteered in the phone room during fund drives (pre-pandemic), I am now taking on a much bigger role and responsibility as the interim General Manager of the station. As the listeners we serve and the donors who sustain us, you are entitled to know more about me and my thinking about where the station is headed..
I need and want to hear from you about what programming you like, what you would like to hear that you are not getting enough of, and how we can better meet community needs. I am launching an initiative at the station for a collaborative effort to identify our strengths, and a plan for how to use them to rebuild the station’s community of listeners and donors, and our impact on southern California and beyond.
First a few words about who I am, and who I am not; what I am here to do, and what I am not going to do. I have been listening to and donating to Pacifica stations since the 1960s in Brooklyn NY. My pronouns are he or they. I have been an unpaid staff member in decades past at KPFA, but have been living in the LA area and donating to KPFK since 1982.
I am a retired public-school teacher (mostly adult education, some secondary), and was a shop steward for United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) at three different adult schools over my career. I am a second-generation shop steward; my dad was also one for his local in the RWDSU in NY. He and my mom met on a picket line when my mother was fired for joining District 65, a CIO union in NYC.
I am an unreconstructed radical, and I wear the same hat everywhere I go. My neighbors, my family, my colleagues, and fellow union members at LAUSD and UTLA, knew I am antiracist, antisexist, anti-imperialist, and anti-authoritarian. I am not here, however, to put my stamp or my politics on the station, but to encourage wide-ranging and free-wheeling discourse, and stimulating coverage of creative social and cultural initiatives.
I am also a step-parent, a non-biological grandfather and great-grandfather, a late-in-life athlete (I trained for and completed the LA Marathon the year I turned 60), a gardener, a published author, a small business person, a journalist and publisher (Change Links and Turning The Tide). I make no claim to being a radio professional. I am however willing to take on the responsibility of a full-time-plus job for no pay to try to steer the station out of the shoals and towards a successful voyage to clearer sailing. I am looking forward to engaging with all of you, and with Southern California’s diverse communities, in order to accomplish that.
I want to be a change agent, because the station clearly needs a change for the better in our fortunes, our capacity to engage the interest and meet the needs of a larger community, and our impact on the social, economic, political, and environmental crises that are buffeting this society and the world. I am here to build.
I want to start that by inviting all of you to come forward with your ideas, hopes and suggestions for the station. I am not kidding when I say my door is open. I want to engage in an immediate, careful but bold process of envisioning how we can do better.
We want to open the station back up, consistent with COVID safety protocols, to the community and to volunteers and unpaid programmers and staff.
The Pacifica National Board has mandated regular reports to the listeners on-air by station management and governance, with opportunity for live listener call-ins, and those will be implemented on a regular basis.
In the absence of even an unpaid volunteer program director, I will be stepping up to discuss improvements in the grid and the flow and in each program. I plan to reinstitute an audition show where we can air possible new programs on a trial basis for a short term and gauge their effectiveness in attracting and engaging with you listeners. Please share your ideas for new programming you wouldlike to see.
I will also be working with the Community Advisory Board, the PNB Committee of Inclusion for KPFK, and the LSB Programming Oversight Committee to ensure that the station’s programming meets community needs, fulfills the Pacifica mission, and incorporates under-served and under-represented communities. We need to reflect the diversity of the communities we are licensed to serve, and to work for an end to racism and sexism.
The KPFK Dispatch will go out regularly and listeners who reach out to us will get a prompt response.
We are developing a new local news gathering and newscasting team.
We plan to intensify and coordinate our social media and other promotion of the station and our content, and I hope that many of you listeners and friends will help us to accomplish that by sharing and liking our posts, tweets and videos.
We need your input and support, not only financially. If you are interested in volunteering with or for the station, please get in touch. Let us know you programming ideas, or if you are willing to serve on a focus group evaluating existing or proposed programming, please let me know. If you have skills or talent at audio production, social media, or other needed areas, please get in touch!
Governance, which is the sphere of KPFK and Pacifica that I have had the most involvement in, has a role to play in all that. We will initiate a process of collaborative strategic planning among paid and unpaid staff and governance (which has been elected by both staff and listeners) on how to, step by step, use what we’ve got to get what we need and where we need to go.
We are seeking to promote various methods of off-air fundraising, including by Local Station Board members, to reduce the length and frequency of on-air fund drives. These include an on-line auction platform, Bidding for Good, and an off-air membership drive campaign. We are beginning a fall fund drive as the clock strikes midnight to start Tuesday, October 4, 2022, and we are hoping to keep it as short as possible, with your help. We will avoid taking shows off the air in favor of having hosts urge you to support the station and the programs for the value we add to your life.
Change makes most people uncomfortable or nervous, yet change is the one thing, along with death and taxes, that we can guarantee will happen. Let’s take collective control over the process of change and use it to reach the outcomes we desire. I hope and trust you will join me in making that happen.
Michael Novick, KPFK Interim General Manager