When Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt pulled the Morning Show off KPFA’s air in November, and laid off its two hosts Aimee Allison and Brian Edwards-Tiekert, she claimed repeatedly that it was out of financial necessity. And she flatly denied that her decision was politically-motivated.
In response, listeners have provisionally pledged over $60,000 to fund the restoration of the Morning Show. The amount raised is the equivalent of the salaries through the end of the year of the two laid off hosts. Most of the pledged donations range from $25 to $100, according to the campaign’s organizers.
On Friday, KPFA Local Station Board chair and SaveKPFA member Margy Wilkinson, board member Pamela Drake, and longtime activist Ying Lee met with the new KPFA General Manager, Amit Pendyal, to give him the promised pledges from KPFA listeners. They urged him to avoid costly arbitration by restoring the Morning Show. According to Wilkinson, Pendyal stated that he had no control over the Morning Show decision and that he was instructed by Engelhardt to leave it in her hands.
The delegation then went to Pacifica’s offices to meet with Engelhardt. She claimed that the layoffs were motivated by other issues beside economic ones, although she was not clear what they were. She mentioned attacks on the air, although no disciplinary measures have been taken against the many KPFA hosts who have discussed the removal of the Morning Show on the air. (KPFA has not had a “gag rule” since 1999, when the station was shut down and the staff locked out by Pacifica, to great popular outrage.) Engelhardt told the delegation that she would not restore the Morning Show, despite the listeners’ pledges and the thousands of listener emails that have been presented to her. You can hear the Pacifica Evening News report about the meeting with Pacifica’s executive director here. And you can read more about the campaign here.