Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Notes: Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO) Council Meeting, 8-13-13

Attending:  Afrykahn Jamal Dayvs, Ruthanne Shpiner, Ann Garrison*, Adrienne Lauby*

     1.  Information Exchange 
          A.   66% of the staff at WBAI were laid off last Friday.  Andrew Philips has moved to that station as the new program director.  There is a recording of the program Andrew did with Summer Reese announcing these changes on WBAI.

               “Letters and Politics” and "Against the Grain" are being piped into WBAI, "Letters and Politics" for the 5 pm hour. This, the Pacifica Foundation's physical presence here, and Andrew's recent tenure at KPFA, has led to some angry members of the WBAI community calling this a California coup.  “Guns and Butter” has been playing on WBAI for awhile and seems to be popular.  KPFA plays Richard Wolff’s show, “Economic Update”, which is produced at WBAI. Some discussion about the WBAI News department.  This is what WBAI listeners seem most stressed about.  We had some discussion about whether management was expecting a volunteer newcast to come together and whether or not that was even possible, but had no answers to either question. 

          B.  Adrienne says the UPSO workshops will return soon but only one every other month. There are people who want to lead them and topics people have said they want.  But, she needs help to produce them every month

2.      Unpaid Staff Expenses
Afrykahn (with Doug Edwards at first and then alone) has done 71 live broadcasts. Either from studio or within the community.  We talked about how possible it might be to get some financial help from KPFA with this effort.

3.      Underwriting at KPFA?
Richard Pirodsky has said at an UPSO meeting that Pacifica has to do underwriting.  KPFT already has some underwriting.

Ruthanne vehemently opposes any underwriting, she cites “The Revolution will Not be Funded.” African is not sure but sees it leaning toward advertising, which is not our mission statement.  It would depend on what kind of business it is.

See Richard Wolinsky's e-mail below.  He opposes it with very specific reasoning.

Ann:  At the top of every hour, KPFA should make a 15 second plug for membership, outside of fund drive and try to raise money this way before going to underwriting.

Adrienne:  KPFA’s income is $1.5 million a year.  Couldn’t we live within that budget?  We should try other ways to raise money.  Looking at KQED and NPR gives me a big distaste for this.  But, some unpaid staff have said they think we should consider it and that has kept me having an open mind.

We all feel very negative to underwriting by big corporations.

Going Forward:  Get the other Council Members to give their opinion on this and bring it up at the October Membership meeting.

4.      Input on Program Changes
 Richard Pirodsky talked to the Local Station Board about beginning to use KPFB as a radio station. There are also rumors of program changes.  We should consider how the unpaid staff can be part of these decisions.  Adrienne suggests a Taskforce.

5.   KPFA's Staff Culture
Energy should go toward creating a gathering of everyone.  The level of participation is low.   Do we have all these different cliques?  When that happens in an organization, it leads to this lack of energy.   It feels like there are not a great deal of interest in this group and this meeting.  Afrykahn: The culture of KPFA is that I don’t know many people and not many people know me.   I see a lot of e-mails espousing what is their point of view but there is no camaraderie.  There have been racist incidents recently but I didn’t see any information from UPSO.  Before we can have discussions about underwriting and other issues we need to know whose who and what’s what. 

There is agreement about the problem.  It's not something UPSO can solve on its own.  Afrykahn points to the list in the post box area and how out of date that is-- his name isn't even there and he's been soloing on a show for three years.

Those on the call spend some time getting to know each other.

6.  Richard Wolinsky on Underwriting

Underwriting means several things. It means underwriting of particular programs; it means general station underwriting, with the occasional on-air thank you.

The first problem with specific program underwriting is that, in essence, the programmer is advertising the name of the underwriter, and by doing so, in essence, serves as its spokesperson. Most programmers are unpaid and they will now be unpaid advertisers for people who make money. I resent that. If I am working as an outside contractor for another organization, I want to be paid for my time and efforts. The second problem is that individual program underwriting puts some pressure on the programmer to conform with the underwriter in order to maintain the underwriting. Obviously this is the reason why KPFA has generally had no corporate underwriting. Back in the 1970s, some programs were created under matching grant proposals by government entities. These programs did have individual foundation (not corporate, though they might be corporate foundations like the Ford Foundation) underwriting, but they were for specific projects which had applied for grants and which were broadcast once the grants were complete. This is very different from ongoing underwriting. The slope for underwriting, particularly corporate underwriting, is extremely slippery for individual programs.

If people do want individual program underwriting in which the programmer (or a cart) must announce prior or after the show about the underwriting, then I want to be paid by the underwriting, then (1) Pacifica turns into something else; and (2) I want to be paid for my work, as should everyone doing programming that has corporate underwriting. I volunteer my time to KPFA. I do not volunteer my time to either the Ford Foundation or Ford Motor Company. Their executives make money off me; screw 'em. This is particularly important for me because my program would be one of the programs most likely to receive underwriting (via publishing houses).

There's also the notion that an ad on the KPFA website, for instance, from Amazon, would be a direct slap in the face to local booksellers, as well as all brick and mortar stores that Amazon competes with. And Amazon certainly has the money to underwrite programming.

If we're talking about Foundation grants, and we're talking about a development director writing up grants that not only pay for the program but also pay the programmer, my opposition softens. But there still remains some kind of slippery slope, the pressure from management for the programmer to spend the time and effort, year after year, trying to find funding for his or her show. That's the commercial world, of course, and it runs counter to the idea that we're working for the love of working. Now we're doing administrative chores.

Notes by Adrienne

* UPSO Council Members

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