Project Censored has been hosting the Morning Mix show 8:00 to 9:00 AM on Thursdays on KPFA radio in Berkeley for the past month. Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff are covering important issues that are mostly unreported in the corporate media and in some cases in the progressive left media as well. KPFA is sharply divided internally and has been for years. New management has recently stepped in and is assessing the current programming. We need your help in promoting the continuation of Project Censored and the Morning Mix Show.
Below is a letter from KPFA watcher Dr. Marc Sapir explaining the current situation and what people can do about it.
Mickey Huff. Director Project Censore/Media Freedom Foundation
Peter Phillips, Presidnet Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored
Friends and comrades,
Financial contributions aside, you can, right now, today, tomorrow, this week, do something positive and vitally important to help create a stable, healthy and growing KPFA. Please read on. And please do send an e-mail or make a phone call sometime this week (as requested below to:
Amit Pendyal. Amit@kpfa.org. ). We need a thousand people to respond to this call. And that is do-able. Si se puede! Marc
You may well be aware that Pacifica Radio and KPFA locally have been going through hard financial times over the past few years. There are complex reasons for this but at KPFA the situation became a serious overspending of a million dollars because the core paid staff, having had control of management for about 7 years, refused to allow any layoffs over the last 2 year period as bills and debt piled up (KPFA has had the largest paid staff of all Pacifica stations, even adjusting for income and size of the listener audience and despite the fact that about 75-80% of staff are volunteers).
Arlene Engelhardt, the Pacifica ED, one year into her tenure, was authorized by the Pacifica Board to hire a stable, permanent and capable manager for KPFA and to immediately make layoffs to balance the KPFA budget (because she had to drain the reserves of the Houston station just to make KPFA’s payroll). Arlene called for voluntary layoffs (7 people came forward) and then laid off only two more paid staff on the morning show. She replaced the morning show with volunteer programmers, each with a different angle, audience and approach 5 days a week. And she hired a new Station Manager, Amit Pendyal and an interim Program Manager, Carrie Corr, both with past experience working at KPFA. She also moved Pacifica’s most popular show (Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now) from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., a move which had been fiercely resisted by core paid staff for about 10 years despite support for the move from listeners, unpaid staff and some paid staff and a decision by the KPFA Program Council around 2002-3.
I’ve been listening to the new Morning Mix 8-9 a.m. show driving to work every Thursday and Friday and, in my opinion, I think it’s very good, positive and different. I liked the old show also, but this group does provide more variety and more local mixing with community groups as well (though Aimee Alison’s Oakland focus was doing some of that also). The addition of Project Censored stories and media critical expertise on Thursdays is also a big addition. The bottom line is that Arlene and KPFA volunteer staff have achieved good continuity for local programming, some new angles, and with significant salary savings.
However, the “never say die” core paid staff and their many supporters remain hostile and determined to force the new KPFA manager, Amit Pendyal to rehire the laid off staff (Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Aimee Alison) at any cost. They are putting a great deal of pressure on Amit and the new interim Program Manager using the carrot and stick technique. Amit and Corrie are receiving many e-mails and phone calls that alternatively suggest that if they don’t accede to the demand they may undermine the upcoming fundraiser—hinting at a possible effort by the core staff supporters to reduce contributions (the stick). On the other hand they are saying that if Amit does what they want they will add tens of thousands of extra dollars they have collected under the on-air and web site deceptive campaign that labeled Engelhardt and Pacifica an outside force interfering in KPFA affairs (though it was Pacifica that had to bail them and KPFA out of its financial disaster because KPFA is simply a part of Pacifica). The KPFAworker.org group raised about 40 thousand dollars by asking people to contribute to them rather than to KPFA-Pacifica. In addition they have individuals on the Station Board who could potentially come forward with large sums to achieve their goals and they have a large e-mail list and outreach capability.
Although Amit has been a volunteer programmer at KPFA (APEX Express program) for two years and has a degree in human resources he’s never come up against a well-organized and determined bunch of people for whom control seems to mean more than the network’s future and stability. The CWA paid staff group (honestly they should be called the anti-union group since they have refused to defend-even attacked-the contract rights of some of their own union brothers and sisters whenever someone disagreed with their efforts to dominate the station) can make anyone feel isolated. They, and their outside supporters are experienced at intimidation—particularly the art of making people feel isolated through name calling (such as labeling Peter Phillips of Project Censored a scab for agreeing to host the Thursday morning mix). I believe that if they win with such tactics, new ideas and thinking, new audiences and expansion of the broad independent progressive left in the Bay Area will take a severe hit. They are well organized, but we can’t allow these tactics if we care about our country’s future, as well as KPFA’s.
Please, therefore, do listen to the morning show at least a couple days a week from 8-9 p.m. and if you find good stuff there, call and or e-mail Amit and Carrie (contact info below) and tell them you appreciate the program and their efforts to improve and strengthen a more collective culture (as a collaboration between paid and unpaid staff and communities and local organizations on an equal footing). That is all we are attempting to achieve. And with the financial situation now slightly improved due to the hugely successful 5 days fundraiser in Dec, we can move ahead and expand so long as we can end this kind of petty power playing and interference in a reasonable process that is unfolding rationally and not at all ruthlessly or vindictively.
Here’s the contact info for the Station Manager : Amit Pendyal. Amit@kpfa.org. and
Interim program manager: Carrie Corr. Carrie@kpfa.org. 813-785-3590 or 510-848-6767 x209
Best wishes to all,
Marc Sapir, MD, MPH
P.S. If you are not in the SF Bay Area you can listen to the shows by going to www.kpfa.org and either listening live or through the archives listed on the site.