Saturday, January 11, 2014

Statement by the Unpaid Staff Organization Membership in Response to Proposed Program Changes

January 2014

The future of KPFA is integrally connected to the future of the communities where it is broadcast.  While there are many problems within KPFA, they are small in relationship to the problems that are faced and solved everyday by our listeners.  We believe in KPFA to the extent that it is useful to these people and our goal is to make this station a healthier and stronger part of the communities it seeks to serve.

The current proposal* for programming changes was developed in a flawed process that included a lack of transparency during the development phase.   Unpaid staff producers were generally kept in the dark as changes were being prepared and not provided a systematic method for feedback.  This lack of communication and lack of clarity in what responses were welcome caused unnecessary tension and dis-empowerment among unpaid staff. 

Nevertheless, most of us feel that KPFA needs to undergo fundamental changes in order to meet current challenges and serve our listeners.** 

What does this mean?
It may or may not include a major overhaul of the program grid.
It should include 1) debuting programs on KPFB, 2) station-wide promotion that is integrated with our current production and promotion work, and 3) more multi-media and website streaming of KPFA programs.

These things are necessary for any future program change at KPFA:
·      Regular monthly staff meetings on a regular day of the month (afternoon & evening) that provide a space for meaningful collaboration.
·      Building a schedule of off-air events to raise revenue, working with current producers from all areas of the station in a transparent procedure.
·      Published policies and procedures for program change.
·      A balance in authority between a representative Program Council and the new General Manager and Program Director in making program changes.
·      Transparency about the reasoning as to why programs are being moved, changed or cancelled.
·      The inclusion and respect for the views and needs of the unpaid staff to the same extent as paid staff.
·      Particular attention to the needs of programming elders as well as others with specific circumstances.
·      A General Manager Report to the Listeners, an on-air program, at least a month before any change begins.
·      A formal listener comment period with multiple points of feedback (mail, e-mail, Facebook, etc) for all program changes.
·      Because the 8-9 am M-F program should include the potential for local information, any possible syndicated programs should be produced in Northern California. 

This list and our thoughts above is only a beginning.  We have other ideas and concerns and have convened a small group to consider them in depth and to work with management toward positive alternatives.  

Given the many problems in the current proposal, we recommend against adopting these changes.   

Signed by the following Unpaid Staff Producers/Hosts***:
Sara Blanco, Apprentice
Adrienne Lauby, Pushing Limits, Unpaid Staff Council Member
Lisa Dettmer, Women’s Magazine
Kazmi Torii, Work Week Radio
Pedro Reyes, Setting the Standard
Kate Raphael, Women’s Magazine
Steve Zeltzer, Work Week Radio
Frank Sterling, Apprenticeship Program, Local Station Board Representative
Clay Leander, Radio Cuba Canta
Rickey Vincent, The History of Funk
Marie Choi, APEX Express, UpFront
Shelley Berman, Pushing Limits
Sabrina Jacobs, Morning Mix
Ann Garrison, unpaid staff
Ruthanne Shpiner, Weekend News
Art Sato, In Your Ear, Music Department
Gregory Jackson, Apprentice, Full Circle
Peter Phillips, Project Censored, Morning Mix
Mickey Huff, Project Censored, Morning Mix
Doug Wellman, Puzzling Evidence
Andres Soto, Morning Mix
Preeti Mangala Shekar, Apex Express
Robynn Takayama, Apex Express
R.J. Lozada, Apex Express
Tara Dorabji, Apex Express
Karl Jagbandhansingh, Apex Express
Salima Hamirani, Apex Express
Ellen Choy, Apex Express

Anthony Fest, Morning Mix, Weekend News
Nina Serrano, La Raza Chronicles, Open Book: Poet to Poet
Davey D., Hard Knock, Morning Mix

** The UPSO Council voted on the basic issues of this statement.  Adrienne Lauby & Ann Garrison voted yes.  Tim Lynch voted no.  Shahram Aghamir had left the meeting and David Gans resigned by e-mail as the meeting was in process.

***Program names for identification purposes only.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Notes: Emergency UPSO Membership Meeting Jan 2, 2014

This meeting was called to address concerns about Richard Pirodsky's proposed changes in the programming grid.*

(1st half of meeting, in Performance Studio; 7:00 – 8:00)

Attending: Adrienne Lauby (Pushing Limits), Anthony Fest (Morning Mix), 
Shahram Aghamir (Voices of the Middle East and North Africa), Sarah 
Blanco, (apprentice) Jeannine Etter (Chocolate Octave), Pedro Reyes 
(Setting the Standard), Miguel Molina (La Onda and Flashpoints en Espanol), 
Kazmi Tori & Steve Zeltzer (Work Week Radio), Frank Sterling (Apprentice 
program), Kate Raphael (Women's Mag), Preeti Shekar (APEX Express), 
David Gans & Tim Lynch (Dead to the World), Clay Leander (Radio Cuba 
Canta), Mary Tilson (America's Back 40), Emmit Powell (Gospel Experience), 
Joel Sachs (engineer), Carla West (News reporter), Rickey Vincent (History 
of Funk), Jae Michael (Sports reporting),  Bonnie Simmons (The Bonnie 
Simmons Show). (Notes by Anthony)

Adrienne (facilitating): the first question to address is, do we want to do something?

Miguel Molina: when I first heard of the changes, they were already supposed to be a done deal; I resent that.....   the unpaid staff are treated as second-class citizens....  yes, there do need to be changes to the grid, because California has changed so much; we should've changed ten years ago...  but I'm looking for transparency in the process, and an understanding of the programs and programmers... for example, La Onda Bajita is on Friday nights because that's pay day night in our community. . .  shopping night and cruising night... also, that's a frequent time for checkpoint stops, and we announce those on-air when we find out about them... another example: how can an elder like Avotcja be moved to midnight??

Rickey Vincent: I endorse Miguel's comments... by the way, even before 1999, there were efforts at KPFA to segregate talk from music... later, we diversified with Hard Knock Radio; now, some people seem to want to un-diversify.   Anyway, the grid is not the reason that fundraising is down.   And this process has been terrible, such as having a staff meeting just before Christmas.

Adrienne: does anyone want to speak to the contrary? (i.e. that unpaid staff should not act)

Tim: yeah, the process was clumsy and the timing sucked, but there was nothing set in stone.  People on Facebook were talking about their shows without consideration of the greater good of KPFA.  The way people are talking now, it might take a year or two to change the schedule... can KPFA be managed??  I don't think democracy has served KPFA well. 

Adrienne: let's take a straw poll on this: do we want to protest this management action in some way, as a group?

Count: 13 yes, 5 no, 4 abstain

Jeannine Etter: let's see something that would work – let's not just protest what we don't like.

Emmit Powell: let's pull together.

Shahram: yes, the grid has to change... but soon another GM will be here – then will the grid change again?  that's too disruptive.

Frank Sterling: we need to know how Richard made his decisions; what criteria did he use – hourly fundraising?   anything else?     and there should've been a report to the listeners.

Kate Raphael: there should've been input from programmers, so let's do that now: what's important to us as programmers (e.g. time slots)?    and we have to look at race, too... that is the reason the previous GM is out.

David Gans: Richard has communicated extensively about this, e.g. email communications to various programmers.

Bonnie Simmons: we're not doing a very good job, at the moment, of serving the audience.

Steve Zeltzer: I don't like the flow of information here [i.e. the lack of information to staff]; it's unprofessional and unhealthy. Maybe Richard thought about the grid a lot, but he should've consulted the programmers.  Let's have more local shows, not more syndicated shows. And we need to keep some weekend Public Affairs shows, to serve working people who can't listen daytimes during the week.  We can use KPFB for the syndicated shows.

Kozmi Tori: I was waiting to hear Richard's vision, but he never explained it; all he wants to do is move shows around. Maybe if we understood his vision, we'd agree with it...

Jae Michael: for Richard, it was about bringing in more money.

Jeannine: more people should show some leadership.  if changing the grid isn't the answer, let's hear other ideas for raising funds.

Mary Tilson: when I first heard of this, I was outraged. But as I learned more about it, I became more positive. I think the proposed new grid would be a good starting point.

Jae Michael: there is prejudice going on here: who does the music, at night? mostly people of color.  who does the news, during the day?  nearly all white people.

Clay Leander: UPSO representatives (Council & Election Committee) should do their part to present Program Council representatives for the unpaid staff.  I call on the Council to choose representatives.

(2nd  half of meeting, in Conference Room: 8:00 – 9:15)

Adrienne: what points of unity do we have now?

 --- that the process was flawed

Rickey Vincent: yes
Pedro Reyes: a process needs to be open, so people will know what's happening;  secrecy discourages unpaid staff from participating.

 --- that there should be monthly staff meetings.

 --- that there should be on-air GM reports to the listeners.

 --- keep the 8 am hour for local programming; use KPFB to try out new shows (including syndicated shows)

 --- (Clay) there should be published procedures on how to do programming changes

 --- an UPSO committee to create programming proposals (e.g. an alternative grid)

(comments, continued)

Shahram: this reshuffle might not actually raise any additional funds; it would be wiser to add more off-air fundraising.    Also, it's odd that Richard's proposed grid put disparate shows into the same hour of the day (e.g. health shows and Project Censored)

Rickey Vincent: yes... it may be a false premise to think that there's more funds to be raised by rearranging the grid

Anthony: there should be changes to the grid, but there's no need to hurry it; the sky is not falling on  KPFA.   Nearly every other community radio station would be glad to have our problem of  “only” $3 million annual revenue.

Clay: whether or not the grid changes, there's got to be promotion, and we don't do that well.

Pedro: Richard's plan is not just a rearrangement of shows; my show (and Spliff's) will be canceled.

Ann:  keep the Morning Mix... and improve it.

Rickey: there should be better integration of the Apprenticeship Program with KPFA shows.

Adrienne:  who would like to volunteer to work on next steps?

         Kate, Steve Z, Jae Michael, Anthony, Tim, Pedro Reyes, Sara Blanco, Adrienne

Adrienne: we have three UPSO Council members present, so let's take a vote on whether to support the list of action items:

vote:  Adrienne - yes     Ann Garrison - yes     Tim Lynch - no   

Action Items:
Write up the things we agree upon.
Do a survey of unpaid staff.
Meet with Richard Pirodsky to discuss these issues.