Sunday, May 25, 2014

Monday Morning

Monday Morning

May 25, 2014 at 4:00am
Berkeley-Berkeley's KPFA was smoldering after an abrupt decision that dislocated a group of 6 community-based 1-hour am programs in favor of an imported program from LA. The replacement of the Morning Mix, a programming collective including Andres Soto from the Richmond Progressive Alliance, the legendary Project Censored, authors for more than 30 years of the "Censored" collections of the year's most-neglected news stories and the nation's most prominent media literacy educators, Hard Knock Radio's Davey D, a nationally known African-American reporter and commentator, Steve Zeltzer's labor program, the Poor News Network and several others, driving out of KPFA's prime time the few new Bay Area-based programs generated in the last few years. The change is also exacerbating the station's internal tensions around race, class, and gatekeeping and fraying relationships with groups like the Richmond Progressive Alliance, who have been doing some of the most impactful and effective grassroots organizing anywhere in the Bay Area signal.

Long-time La Onda Bajita and Flashpoints co-host Miguel Molina exploded on-air on Friday May 23rd at 5:30pm in the closing hours of KPFA's extended fund drive. Molina reported that less than 5 days before the change was abruptly announced, interim manager Richard Pirodsky told Project Censored co-host Dr. Peter Phillips he would not be making changes prior to his departure, leading Molina to ask who exactly was making the decisions, if not Pirodsky. Molina stated the "slashing and scattering" was destroying the morale of a new group of emerging producers. Molina's complete remarks can be found here in audio and here in video. ( (

Molina asked listener-sponsors and members of the public to come to KPFA between 7 and 8 am on Monday May 26th to support the Morning Mix staffers.

The replacement program, Uprising, hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar was claimed to have posted large sums of money during a one week fund drive pre-emption. The extravagant amounts claimed by the Save KPFA faction in a newsletter they distribute were bizarre, claiming receipts exceeding $11,000 an hour and close to $100,000 in one week of broadcast. Kolhatkar's show, which has been on the air in the morning in LA for close to a decade, collected an average of $2,051 an hour on KPFK during its ten fund drive broadcasts on KPFK between May 1 and May 17, never once cracking the $3,000 mark and once collecting as little as $600. The KPFK fund drive dailes for May 1-20 can be seen here. (

The wacky numbers may be another example of the creative accounting often in play at Berkeley's KPFA, whose books were left unreconciled for 18 months, events income was unprocessed for up to a year after receipt, and whose last permanent general manager left a $375,000 check uncashed in a desk for 15 months. Or they may indicate an attempt by a group of wealthy individuals to "purchase" the morning drive time hour in Berkeley for Kolhatkar and the program.

Some Bay Area listeners posted on Kolhatkar's website letters suggesting she ask for a different time slot on KPFA. (

The latest tumult comes only days after an eight week occupation of the foundation's Berkeley headquarters ended on May 13th after an illegitimate majority set off chaos by suddenly firing the executive director only weeks after a permanent hire and reinstated a CFO who had been let go for poor performance and workplace complaints. The re-hired CFO has still not been able to enter the headquarters without being accompanied by professional mediators and the investigation report has vanished for months.

The end of the national office occupation was witnessed by a KPFA member who wrote this essay about his experiences. (

A satirical look at the chaos at the radio stations and what the future holds amid rumors of a network breakup by the Twit Wits comedy troupe (produced by noted theatrical producer George Coates) can be found here. (

In a somewhat uneventful national board meeting on May 22nd, both Interim ED Duncan and the re-hired CFO gave brief reports in which they indicated lack of knowledge about many of the foundation's affairs. A motion to attend to securing a general counsel absorbed much of the meeting and was prevented from being dealt with at the meeting by the illegitimate majority. The audio can be heard here. The board ran out of time and did not proceed to a closed session afterwards. (

KPFA LSB member (and United for Community Radio member) Samsarah Morgan wrote this piece in April about her experiences on KPFA's local station board. (

The workplace tensions at KPFA, which have occasionally exploded into violence, most notoriously in 2008 when unpaid staffer Nadra Foster was violently arrested in the lobby in August of 2008, are the subject of this 2005 email by a paid staffer objecting to harassing signs being posted around the station by a shop steward. The email, which was submitted into discovery in a lawsuit, conceals the identity of the two, and has the employee concluding that "I feel that X was very disrespectful to me and was participating in an action that will only help to create an even more hostile workplace than we all (sic) ready have at KPFA." The complete email can be read here. (

 KPFA's Community Advisory Board announced a town hall meeting at: EastSide Arts Alliance at 2277 International Boulevard in Fruitvale on June 21st.


Started in 1946 by conscientious objector Lew Hill, Pacifica's storied history includes impounded program tapes for a 1954 on-air discussion of marijuana, broadcasting the Seymour Hersh revelations of the My Lai massacre, bombings by the Ku Klux Klan, going to jail rather than turning over the Patty Hearst tapes to the FBI, and Supreme Court cases including the 1984 decision that noncommercial broadcasters have the constitutional right to editorialize, and the Seven Dirty Words ruling following George Carlin's incendiary performances on WBAI. Pacifica Foundation Radio operates noncommercial radio stations in New York, Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and syndicates content to over 180 affiliates. It invented listener-supported radio.

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