Sunday, October 20, 2013

Notes: UPSO Membership Meeting 10-17-13

Present:  Adrienne Lauby, Gabriella Wilson, Ann Garrison, Eddie Ytuarte, Anthony Fest, Emmit Powell, Shahram Aghamir, Lisa Dettmer, Carla West, and Tim Lynch.

Guest: KPFA Interim General Manager Richard Pirodsky

2) Program Councils
3) Program Changes at KPFA
4) Hiring
5) Pacifica Investigation at KPFA
6) Fund Drive

1)   KPFB.  Richard says that KPFA needs a "feeder station," that would try out programs that might be given time on KFPA if they appear to be successful.  He has never been at a station that didn't have any way to regularly try out and improve new programming before it came to the grid.  At this point, however, he said there's no open slot to put a new show on KPFA.    KPFB is a radio station, not just a repeater.  “…to just repeat KPFA programs is a waste of the frequency.”  It originally covered areas around Berkeley that KPFA could not reach but, due to technical advances, KPFA now reaches those areas.  (Michael Yoshida is doing a study of that to be sure.)

Richard described an experience with a situation similar to his plans for KPFB at college stations, where turnover was far more frequent, as students graduated and moved on.  The station he was talking about covered the campus and the vicinity around the campus.

KPFB will impose two very strict limitations.

    **KPFA does not have the revenue to pay people on KPFB.
    **It will have to be pre-recorded, because live production studio space isn't available

Otherwise, Richard said, it gives us a chance to experiment with programming. It will have its own web stream and be promoted on KPFA.  It wasn't clear whether it would have it's own website as well. Richard has asked a LSB Task Force, with both caucuses represented, to consider KPFB.

There was general excitement about the idea of KPFB programming.

Eddie Ytuarte asked, "How much does it cost to run the station?"
Richard said:  Nothing more.  It will mean no addition to the budget.
Someone asked if it will be on 24 hours?   The only answer for now was that only the Berkeley City Council and School Board meetings are on the KPFB schedule separate from KPFA at this time.

Gabrielle Wilson did not want to see KPFB ghettoized as, she said, most programmers of color are currently at KPFA.
Question (Adrienne): will this new use of KPFB have to wait until there's a Program Council?
Answer: not necessarily; we could at least solicit applications, e.g. the Strike Debt group has already asked for a show.

2)  PROGRAM COUNCILS:   Richard said that, the PNB has passed a general rule that every station must have a Program Council but let the individual stations define their structure and responsibilities.   The Program Council needs to represent both caucuses on the LSB.   Uncertainty remains about who will have the authority to approve programming.

The LSB Task Force, with representatives from both caucuses, will come to a consensus as to what a Program Council at KPFA should consist of in response to the resolution by the Pacifica National Board.

Tim Lynch said that the LSB should not have any role in programming, that it should have only a governance role.

Richard said that a member of the LSB has already suggested that the Program Director should propose programming, the Program Council should dispose (decide), and if there's a deadlock between the two, the LSB should break the deadlock.

Richard strongly believes we need good program evaluation.  The only data that can currently be collected about audience or enthusiasm are the number of hits on the website and $$ raised during pledge.
Richard said we need better metrics.

What strategies are we using for making choices?
Richard:  There's a very slow turnover process for KPFA.
Richard: There has never been strategic thinking here about scheduling; I wanted to do some, but thought I should talk to the LSB about it. I did, and discovered that neither caucus wanted to see changes.    Also, changes ought to be done soon after a pledge drive, but we won't be doing them when the present drive ends tomorrow... so the next time to do it would be after the December drive – but I will be leaving by then.   Interviews for a permanent GM are underway this week (and I'm not a candidate for the permanent job).

Lisa asked when the GM hire will be made.  Richard said that that members of the committee said they're interviewing this week, and that they will present a short list to the LSB.

Richard himself did not apply and said that he was brought in specifically to make sure the investigation was conducted fairly and that Pacifica National had promised to get him out of there before long.

Question:  Have hiring committees been formed for the Board Op and Phone Room jobs?   Richard: no.... I'm not sure what the process is.

There are other hires in the works. . . Board Op and Fund Drive Coordinator/Volunteer Coordinator. The Board Op job is union.  The other is half time non-union.  (see KPFA website>About>Jobs for details)  UPSO usually has a representative on these hiring committees.   Eddie Ytuarte volunteered to serve on the GM hire committee.   Richard says he is unable to find any written, established procedure regarding hiring committees, so this seems to be up in the air, but he was not opposed.


Any outcomes besides JR being banned?   One unpaid staff person got an apology.  There were other recommendations.   Whether or not to move on the recommendations is up to the LSB and the Executive Director.

Richard: I haven't seen the investigator's report, but there was a list of recommendations passed out to LSB members (during executive session).
Shahram: the recommendations were very general.
Gabrielle: if nothing is shared with staff, how will KPFA learn anything from this??

Gabrielle Wilson mentioned the double standard that led to former Program Director Sasha Lilly banning Youth Radio on KPFA, because a Youth Radio programmer allowed the "f" word to be said over the airwaves.  Youth Radio went national and opened a big office in Downtown Oakland and went down as a big missed opportunity for KPFA to have played a role in nurturing it to its national audience and prominence..   Sasha Lilly, as co-host of Against the Grain, let the f-word onto KPFA airwaves in a pre-recorded segment, in which it could have been caught, but was never disciplined in any way, much less banned.

Others present agreed that this is an example of the double standards that they had been hoping the grievance process would address but, so far, has failed to.

Shahram said that the only evidence of a formal resolution of grievances against Andrew was a statement in the summary sent to the LSB, saying that he had not handled personnel issues properly.

Richard said that Pacifica's insurance company had insisted on the investigation to reduce the costly litigiousness at KPFA and had said they would not insure Pacifica any longer if they did it.  Richard also said that if the costly lawsuits at KPFA decreased as a result, then the investigation would be considered a success.

UPSO RESOLUTION:  We request a copy of the page and a half summary of the investigator’s conclusions.  Resolution Passed. 

In favor:  5
Abstained: 2
Opposed:  1    

Support came from the sense that many unpaid staff cooperated with the investigation and listener money paid for it.  Support also came from those who want to learn the lessons so as not to repeat them.

Opposition was due to possible liability issues, that KPFA airs too much dirty laundry, and that distributing the summary of the report to the UPSO would make it public information.

Widely agreed that the fund drive has been going on too long.  Might make goal if tomorrow's a good day, but might not.  (At that point, Thursday evening, it was at $610,000. and it ended the next day at $671,000.)   Richard: This drive has been going for about 24 days now... even though it's short of its goal, it can't be extended.

Richard: some programmers haven't changed their approach to fund drives, to reflect what we're learned by experience or from Goal Busters.  For example, nobody likes a long pitch at the end of a show, but some programmers are still doing their pledge-drive shows that way.

Richard said that National (the board?  the office?) has told him that KPFA must make its goals.

Notes by:
Ann Garrison
Independent Journalist,
SKYPE: Ann Garrison, Oakland

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