Monday, December 22, 2014

NOTES: Unpaid Staff Meeting 12-16-14


UPSO Meeting, 12-16-2014, KPFA Conference Room

Next Meeting: 01-13-2015, 7 pm

Attending: Ann Garrison* “Weekend News”, Tim Lynch* “Dead to the World”, Kate Raphael “Womens Magazine”, Clay Leander “Radio Cuba Canto”, Steve Zeltzer “Work Week Radio”, Anthony Fest “Weekend News” “Project Censored Show”, Adrienne Lauby* “Pushing Limits”

(*UPSO Council Member)

We had a productive meeting with many practical ideas. My only regret was not being part of the apprenticeship program because they were having a lotta laughs at a holiday party down the hall. I wrote the notes below. Adrienne


1) Resolution on KPFB Development: The UPSO Council and membership requests full participation in the formulation of all policies for KPFB’s development and asks that these policies be developed quickly. Passed unanimously.

2) Resolution on Program Evaluations: The Unpaid Staff Organization membership and its elected Council have asked for routine evaluations for a long time. We support the basic concept. To get feedback and to clarify the process for unpaid staff members, we would like a presentation and discussion on management’s announced evaluation strategy and procedure in an open evening unpaid staff meeting. Passed with 6 Ayes, 1 No, 0 Abstentions


---There is a way to tag, describe and upload photos for your program on the current KPFA website. You can do it from home. If you do it enough in advance, the show content will be tweeted out. Contact Miguel Guerrero for a password and training.

---Kate Raphael reported that she uploads audio for use by the news to the KPFA drop box and that Aileen Alfandary usually uses it in her news reports. Contact engineering for directions for the drop box and then tell the news that your audio is available,


We took less formal actions after discussion on these topics:

1) Protest Coverage—a list of practical and procedural changes that would improve this:

a. Call an emergency meeting of all producers to gather ideas and make plans.

b. Promote new energy with on-air call outs for a Mobile Protest Team.

c. Curate live streams that are happening around the U.S. for KPFA’s live stream channel and promote on air.

d. Make a clear policy to encourage programmers to make room for live cell phone reports from demonstrations and protests.

e. Set up a Google Doc where people could coordinate live coverage of the protests and protest-related guests.

f. Promote advance agreement for parameters for pre-emptions.

g. We need more local programming in the Morning – The Morning Mix had the local connections.

h. Sponsor a local event about the protests and raise money during it.

(see below for more discussion of this issue)

2) The New KPFA Website – It is coming. There has not been enough collaboration with unpaid staff. We need a volunteer immediately to coordinate feedback and follow up with Quincy. (see below for more discussion of this issue)

3) UPSO Election for new Council Members – We have been working on the voter list. The deadline for candidates will be sometime in January. In the meantime, we will begin a “telephone/e-mail tree” of contacting unpaid staff. Each of us agreed to talk to three people and ask them to reach out to three more.

4) KPFB: Would unpaid programmers like to give audio for a 2-12 hr “Best Of Ferguson Coverage” program on KPFB? If enough are interested, Adrienne and Steve will help coordinate.

KPFB currently is testing new programming on weekends with commitments for up to 12 hours on two days, mostly produced by folks currently or formerly with the Apprenticeship program. We don’t know if it is broadcast from the KPFB website.

Opening the KPFB license to new programming will need some attention to formalized management structures, curating (choosing) the programs and marketing KPFB. Clay Leander has skills in areas that may affect the license.

5) Communication with Managers: We are concerned that Quincy, our General Manager, has not held a staff meeting since he took the job. We have repeatedly asked that he hold regular monthly evening meetings. We are advocating that Quincy and Laura, as Program Director, meet and talk with all programmers before evaluations begin. There are also some complaints about routine communication – answering phone calls and e-mails. We will send management a letter about this. We invited Laura and Quincy to this meeting and did not get even a courtesy response.

6) The Fund drive is not going well. We will encourage the use of social networks on Wednesday (done)


A stunning lack of people responded to the survey on new website, possibly only six. The website is going beta almost immediately. It is a tribute to our alienation and a missed opportunity for unpaid staff.

Some deeper problems that relate to a new website design:

1) Traffic to a website is often driven by breaking news. KPFA News doesn’t do that very well but some programs do produce reports that could be featured and drive traffic. There should be a way to highlight discrete news segments of 3 to 6 minutes on the website. We need to develop a local news collective.

2) The website is currently used to promote some shows and not others.

3) The staff doesn’t use the technology that is available now. Many shows do not promote their programs, even by labeling their archives.

4) The protests around Ferguson are an opportunity to use and promote an interactive website.

5) The unpaid staff programs are our own intellectual property. KPFA has a right of first air.

6) It would be great to have national programming sites which collect programs from all Pacifica stations and affiliates under topic areas, like women, labor, geographic area

7) Unpaid staff need workshops on social media skills, especially twitter. We would like some professional development, four hour unpaid staff workshops. The results need to be integrated on the website.

8) We will look for an unpaid liaison for communication around the website design.


Slow start but gotten better. Some people wanted us to do 24 hr protest coverage, wall to wall but Kate wants quality not quantity. DN!, MSMBC all had similar guests. Kate liked the broadcast of a Catalyst event with some long time activists who compared and analyzed this uprising. KPFA was slow to understand what was coming. The management didn’t prepare for the announcement from the Grand Jury. Missed opportunity for multi media. We could have used our stream to rebroadcast other streams and publicize them. Needed more strategic thinking and planning.

Thousands of people this weekend rallied. Raising money is not counter to coverage of protests. It doesn’t see like the news department is up on all the other media coverage.

When the news broke, KPFT was better than KPFA. We played a pre-recorded show with Walter Turner.

We are watching a movement before our eyes, national, local, grassroots. The Berkeley City Council is having two meetings, large ones in response. Issues of police brutality, institutional racism, city government funding and oversight of police. This is an opportunity to cover the issue in the long term.

There is a turf problem with everyone having a program and others have no ability to get into the broadcast. Pre-emptions need to happen in advance in the current system; which is not flexible for breaking events. Some of us are putting the same people on, even on the same day.

The demonstration passed right by the door the night of the grand jury acquittal. 4 news people went out and joined the protest. Could their reports have been put on the air? Anthony was one of the people but didn’t see a way to get it on the air—we don’t have the processes. In the day time, Kate thought her program would be pre-empted. Laura, the program director, e-mailed eveyone the 2nd or 3rd day saying that people should call in and prepared to put people on the air.

When Occupy SF was raided, Kate called the station from inside the protest encampment and tried to call into a program. It was a guest host for Dead to the World and he didn’t feel like he could put the call on the air.

Ann Garrison's article on KPFA’s response:

No Indictment for Darren Wilson? Why Not Preempt and Throw Open the Phones?

December 2, 2014

By Ann Garrison, KPFA Unpaid Staff Council Member and Reporter/Producer

KPFA listeners seemed confused and disappointed when the station failed to preempt programming and broadcast live after the St. Louis District Attorney’s announcement that the Grand Jury would not indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown.

I tuned into KPFA myself, right after watching the St. Louis District Attorney’s press conference on C-Span, and was surprised to hear the regularly scheduled programming, Africa Today, with Walter Turner without any Ferguson coverage. I went back to switching between MSNBC’s outrage and Fox News’s celebration.

It later occurred to me that if Walter Turner’s show had been live, Walter would have been commenting on what had just happened, so the show must have been pre-recorded. I also thought that, though I can’t claim to know Walter well, he most certainly would have understood if his pre-recorded show had been preempted for live broadcasting.

I didn’t otherwise have a strong opinion about what KPFA should have been doing right after the press conference. I just knew I wasn’t interested in what it was doing. Women’s Magazine host Kate Raphael remarked later that she and a friend had been driving around, trying to figure out where a protest would be forming, and they were surprised when they weren’t able to tune into KPFA and find out.

That sounded right. News of where protestors were gathering seems to be the minimum KPFA listeners should be able to expect. Reporters or simply callers dialing in from the protests would have added value, and a video livestream like that arranged during the Block the Boat demonstrations would have been even better.

Former KPFA GM and WBAI PD Andrew Leslie Phillips nailed it, though, when he wrote, on a social media site, that “KPFA should have preempted and opened the phones. It’s a no brainer. It’s what radio does best.”

Of course. People were emotional and/or in shock, even though very few had expected an indictment. They would want to call in and hear others calling in and feel like KPFA was a community. I myself turned to Facebook and Twitter for a sense of community, as I switched TV channels between MSNBC and Fox talking heads and livestreams from Ferguson, but I felt like something was missing: KPFA. I would have liked to hear the phones thrown open and that would have been enough to assure that the location of protests gathering around the Bay would have been called in.

Andrew also wrote that, “Management are often intimidated by staff – but when program managers make intelligent, news-generated decisions, staff understand. It’s not about staff or unions, it’s about serving listeners. Preempting programs invigorates the air. It’s almost always good radio. And Pacifica should be out in front on this.”

He’s absolutely right. Never mind that he’s on the Save KPFA side, I’m on the UCR side, or whatever else. Who cares? He nailed it. “KPFA should have preempted and opened the phones . . . it’s a no-brainer. It’s what radio does best.” I’ve always respected Andrew’s radio artistry and most always respected his programming judgment.

I don’t know why KPFA barely responded during the first days after the St. Louis Grand Jury decision and don’t care. I just hope something that feels like community radio comes together next time, as it did after George Zimmerman’s acquittal, and during the Block the Boat for Gaza demonstrations at the Port of Oakland. KPFA should feel proud to have played a role in the Block the Boat for Gaza organizing success that was reported by news outlets around the world, including Israel’s.

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