Board Members Demand Purge of Dissenting KPFA Staff

NOTE: Messages of protest can be sent to the entire Local Station Board by using this form.

Three members of KPFA’s Local Station Board who sit on the Pacifica National Board–Tracy Rosenberg, Joe Wanzala, and Shahram Aghamir–have drawn up a list of their staff enemies who they are demanding be laid off, according to a misdirected email. The three are affiliated with a slate that has a majority on the KPFA board. Their targets appear to be their political opponents on the board and within the station.

The purge list includes the staff of some of the most successful programs at KPFA—both in terms of popularity and fund raising—including Aimee Allison, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, and Laura Prives of the Morning Show; Sasha Lilley of Against the Grain; News Anchor John Hamilton, the only two paid reporters Christopher Martinez and Max Pringle, and News Engineer Rose Ketabchi. All of these staff members have signed statements in opposition to the actions of the board majority.

Rosenberg, Wanzala, and Aghamir are also proposing that the Morning Show, which fund raises three times what it costs, be cut to one hour and that the Evening News, which is one of the few remaining sources of local and regional news, be cut to half an hour.

Such a purge would decimate KPFA’s ability to fund raise, eviscerating some of the largest income-generating programs at a time of financial crisis. The move by the three national board members contravenes the Pacifica Foundation’s bylaws and flouts KPFA’s local autonomy, by taking the power over the station’s budget out of the hands of the KPFA Local Station Board and decisions on layoffs out of the hands of the station’s General Manager. The proposed purge would also violate KPFA’s contract with Communications Workers of America Local 9415, which represents the paid staff of KPFA.

Members of the Pacifica National Board are demanding KPFA make deep cuts to its staffing, claiming that the station owes Pacifica $300,000 and must pay that money back. However, during the crisis of 1999, KPFA lent Pacifica almost $1.5 million, which Pacifica has still not repaid. Pacifica is also holding $150,000 of KPFA’s money as collateral for a line of credit. And KPFA has been paying a disproportionate share of listener income to Pacifica, compared to the four other stations in the Pacifica network.

KPFA staff are asking listener-sponsors to email the Local Station Board to demand that these staff and programming cuts not take place and to insist that Pacifica honor KPFA’s union contract. Messages of protest can be sent to the entire Local Station Board by using this form.

UPDATE: KPFA’s union responds to the Pacifica National Board. The Alameda Labor Council, AFL-CIO, has also passed a strong resolution in support of KPFA’s staff.

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