KPFA Local Station Board Meeting minutes May 8th, 2004: Special Session
Members present constituting a quorum: Carol Spooner, Lisa Rothman, Ted Friedman, Willie Ratcliff, LaVarn Williams, Sepideh Khosrowjah, Michael Lubin, Riva Enteen (Chair), Bonnie Simmons, Sarv Randhawa, Mark Hernandez, Gerald Sanders, Steve Conley, Max Pringle, Willie Thompson, Max Blanchet, Marnie Tattersall, Annie Hallett, Mary Berg, Jane Jackson, Miguel Molina, Howard Beeman
Late Arrivals: William Walker (1:15pm), Fadi Saba (1:30pm)
Absent: Debbie Speer (excused)
Meeting called to order at 12:00 pm.
The Chair reiterated the policy of respect. She stated that maintaining order is her responsibility and she will be increasing her efforts to achieve it. Also, she clarified the purpose of debate.
There was discussion about allowing Tomas Moran to speak
Motion: that Tomas Moran speak for 10 minutes after announcements and before financial reports.
Substitute Motion: that Tomas Moran have the floor for 10 minutes after Jim Bennett’s presentation and before Public Comments.
Motion: to replace item 10 with election of LSB members to the PC.
The agenda is approved by unanimous vote.
Lisa: Please come to volunteer during the fund drive. LSB members may contact Susan Stone about pitching on-air during the drive.
Carol: The Pacifica National Board will be meeting June 4th in Houston. Housing is available by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve: There are many events coming up that require volunteers. There is a sign-up sheet on the debate table.
Max B.: There will be an event about Haiti showing two films here at La Pena May 23rd at 7pm.
Willie T.: I suggest that each LSB member commit to a minimum of 3 hours of volunteer assistance during the fund drive.
LaVarn: Carol Spooner received an award last week. Congratulations were extended by the Board.
Ted: The outreach committee has been working with Lisa Ballard to develop pages for the Station Board on the KPFA web-site.
Willie R.: Next Friday, “The Oppressed Conference” at the Green House about police abuse.
IV. Financial Report
Please, refer to hand-outs.
LaVarn: The station is on budget for the first half of the year. The surplus is expected to be about half a million dollars. We are looking forward to working with our new Development Director, Lem Lem Rijio. Lonnie Hicks and Eileen Hazel are also working with the finance committee. The National Finance Committee passed a motion toward increased accountability and transparence. If there are questions, please ask. email@example.com or 510-427-2608.
Motion: to approve the preliminary budget for the Local Station Board.
There was a request that Board Members take some time to digest the report before voting on anything.
Substitute Motion: to table this item until the next meeting.
$850,000 is the goal for the upcoming fund drive. Any and all volunteer time will be greatly appreciated. It would be nice to see the participation of the Board Members.
LaVarn: How is the preliminary plan coming along for 2005?
Jim: I’ve met with Eileen this week. There is some concern about the money being raised and what is being spent. We will have a narrative outline in a couple of weeks for the Board.
Willie T.: This Board has overlooked some serious diversity issues. Will you make a comment on the question of diversity?
Gerald: I heard an opinion of Jim’s, not a report.
Jim: I agree that it is an area that we need to consider. We would like to do a comprehensive survey.
Max B.: The GM should submit his reports in writing several days in advance of a meeting.
Jim: I apologize, I was in NY but they will be in the notes.
Carol: We are now getting balance sheets, which is good but I noticed new legal fees that were not in last month.
Jim: This has to do with some of the outstanding litigation of the network.
Carol: They are charging KPFA 5-6x more than the other stations.
Steve: In the future I would like to hear reports about the different departments and the station’s finances instead of listening to an opinion about an agendized item.
Jim: I was under the impression that this is a special meeting. At regular meetings I will prepare a presentation about the station such as you have suggested.
Sarv: I concur with Jim. This is a special meeting.
LaVarn: The preliminary budget was completed two weeks ago and is on-line for review. We are continuing to update it
VI. Tomas Moran’s Presentation
Thank you for allowing me to speak.
These remarks are blunt. They are blunt because there is no time to waste. The process for making decisions at KPFA needs to change, and your first step will set the course. This issue is your most important issue. All other work by the LSB will produce no effect if this is not fixed.
The decision-making process has and continues to be governed by an intense fight between a few factions.
They maneuver to exercise control over one or another of the bodies or positions in the station that may have some historic claim to an aspect of power.
They attempt to use these bodies and positions to control the decisions at KPFA, at the same time that they criticize and attempt to expose the other factions' use of the same techniques.
These "exposes" are played out in front of a confused listener, who knows little of the internal conflicts, yet is asked to be judge or arbiter of the situation.
Some would say that in spite of the massive documentation, as provided by some of the participants in the form of 3-4 page emails broadcast to internet lists, the average listener, who cares deeply about KPFA and voted in the recent elections, seems unable to render judgment on such matters, and the decision-making process remains stuck.
I would say that this inability by the listeners is not "in spite", but rather because, of the "massive documentation". Try as they may, a caring listener cannot process these convoluted arguments, these gyrations in the abstract. Further hampered by lack of knowledge of the internal politics at KPFA, the listener often shakes his or her head as they wonder why, indeed, are such complicated and regimented rules sought if we are all trying to make progressive radio and to get along.
The solution for this malady is NOT with the creation of more complicated rules, no matter how wise they may seem. If you proceed in that direction, you will simply join the fray. You will replace the old LAB, itself a past player in this collective behavior, and you will begin to play the power game. The minutes of your meeting will be one more in the line of undecipherable documents.
There is a simpler and surer path: to expose the decision-making processes of the organization. The LSB has the power to make this happen, by hosting the first transparent decision-making event in the new KPFA. If you are successful, you will have helped KPFA to model a new behavior.
This means that you act by acting. Here is one way to do it:
Set a time line for the Program Council to reach a decision on this matter. For example, two months.
Offer to host, and schedule three meetings:
1)Program Council members are invited to make 10 minute statements each, including presenting any information for or against the change.2)KPFA community experts and listeners are invited to make 5 minute statements each. You could take nominations for a period of time and invite 15-20 speakers.3)You host a regular meeting of the Program Council at a public venue two months from the start of this process, where they agree to have the motion in question as the first item on the agenda.
You record all three meetings in digital audio, and make transcripts and the audio files in an easily accessible format (edited, with indexed links to the various speakers) to any and all listeners.
Bring the decision-making process in the open, and you will earn the gratitude and support of the listeners. You will gain their involvement in providing the necessary weight to pull KPFA into a healthy start for its next fifty years.
Transparency was a key word during the years of the struggle for Pacifica. We meant it. So let's get started with it.
I catch pieces of the Morning Show and DN! I often sit in my car to finish listening to a segment of DN! I now donate 1/8th of what I used to give pre-1999. I’d like to see more outreach to community members. I would also like to see the process of the Board become more effective.
Willie T.: I am intrigued by your decision to decrease your contribution to KPFA to 1/8th. It is clearly the product of a sentiment about the previous Board.
Tomas: The listeners are not willing to dump their money down the drain. We will be there to help but we want to see you paddling in the right direction.
Howard: I appreciate your comments.
Lisa: You speak of the importance of moving on. I’m not hearing from you the strategy by which staff experience is respected and acknowledged.
Tomas: If you want to make a commitment to something, than measure it. You’re going to have experiment with making changes to see if they will be successful.
Carol: You are saying that the station isn’t functional. That is new information to some of us. What kind of dysfunctionality should we, as a Board, address.
Tomas: There is a lack of feedback mechanisms between listeners and staff. I don’t blame that on any individual. We have all been through a lot.
There was an hour period during which the Board heard Public Comments.
(Submitted statements and a summary of public comments are provided in separate documents.)
(1)does not raise legal issues that pose a threat to the broadcast license,
Therefore, the LSB directs the General Manager to implement the time change within a reasonable time frame not to exceed four months from this date.
The above resolution is being considered now based upon the LSB having previously passed the following resolution:
Therefore, the KPFA LSB adopts and approves the programming decision- making policy and procedure agreed upon by the KPFA management and Program Council at their retreat on November 18, 2003, specifically:
We affirm the power of the Program Council to make programming decisions by majority vote, and to affirm the composition of the program council to include as voting members, management (programming and development), department heads (music, drama and literature, training, news, and future public affairs), unpaid staff (4 plus 2 alternates), and Local Advisory Board, which elects 3, and appoints 3 community representatives, and in timely consultation with KFCF and other Associate Station management, which shall have access to the Program Council, access to all relevant information and input on any programming proposals that impact KFCF or other Associate Stations and their listeners.
Further, the LSB adopts the following policy: The General Manager may override a programming decision made by the Program Council in the following cases:
(1)legal issues that pose a threat to the broadcast license,
If the General Manager overrides a programming decision made by the Program Council, the Program Council may appeal to the LSB to override the General Manager.
Mark: I’d like to speak against the motion. The community needs assessments done have indicated only that listeners want DN! in the evening. There has been no definitive argument presented that this change is a good idea or wanted. Without looking at the financial impact, it would be unwise to make such a change at this time. We should be looking at other alternatives.
Bonnie proposes a Substitute Motion:
Substitute Motion to Resolution No. 2 Regarding the KPFA Morning Drive Program Changes
Whereas, there are concerns that the programming change which would move Democracy Now from its present start time of 9:00am to a 7:00am start time may cause serious financial harm to the station; and,
Whereas, there is insufficient information available about the listenership patterns at KPFA with which to make this programming change; and,
Whereas, it is within the responsibilities of the station management to assemble information on station listenership patterns and fundraising activities; and,
Whereas, we believe the listeners have expressed a desire for an open and transparent KPFA and that it is essential that we treat our listeners with respect and make decisions in a fair and collaborative manner;
Therefore, be it resolved that the KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) directs station management to conduct a listener survey and present the results to the LSB within the next three months.
Be it further resolved that the LSB directs management to produce a financial impact assessment of the proposed morning drive-time lineup, based upon the results of the listener survey and the three most recent fundraising periods within a month after presentation of the listener survey results.
Be it further resolved that if after reviewing the results of the listener survey and the financial impact statement of the proposed morning line-up, and finding that no serious financial harm will be caused to the station, the program coordinator and general manager will implement the proposed morning line-up changes no later than two months from the date of the published financial impact assessment. _____________________________________
This analysis of the top three fundraising shows on KPFA -- Democracy Now, Flashpoints, and The Morning Show -- was put together by Phil Osegueda, Assistant General Manager and Development Director of KPFA. This analysis was submitted to the LSB on April 15, 2004. A copy of the full analysis is attached (see attachment 1). Here are some points that were extrapolated from the analysis:
The comparison of fund drives in May and August, 2003, to the fund drives of October, 2002 and February, 2003 is not a true comparison as May and August are traditionally not as strong as the winter fund drives. It is important to look at the last two fund drives rather than comparing the 2003 fund drives to the 2002 fund drives. Concerning these particular fund drives, 2002 and early 2003 were war-driven times, and the economy was better than we are currently experiencing. Both Phil Osegueda and Jim Bennett, interim General Manager, feel strongly that the audience is more likely to pledge as they did in the last two fund drives. It is important to consider that KPFA has had to extend the length of the two most recent fund drives to meet our goals.
Both Democracy Now and Flashpoints have shown decreasing pledge numbers over the past few fund drives, while The Morning Show has maintained its high pledge base, as well as periodically experiencing increased pledge numbers. Therefore, it is important to look carefully at listening trends of the KPFA audience and take into consideration why they have changed in the past year and a half. How do people use radio in the morning, especially since 9/ll? Where do we find our audience at 7:00 am? Since KPFA does not provide commuter traffic reports as do those stations with whom we share listeners, can we hold our morning drive-time audience to Democracy Now if they are commuting and need traffic information and other local updates on breaking events which may shape their entire day, if not their commute. If the 7:00 am broadcast of Democracy Now finds its audience in cars rather than at home or in the workplace, how will that affect Amy's one 15-20 minute plug, if we are depending on mostly car phone users?
To have Democracy Now and The Morning Show, KPFA's #1 and #3 fundraising programs, on a collision course will not work. Amy will be plugging 15-20 minutes rather than the 40 minutes she is currently able to plug by extending into the accommodating music programs that currently follow Democracy Now. She will not be able to run overtime into The Morning Show, which must start promptly to establish its fundraising features. This is in order to present the material fairly, and to set up the plug to come in a responsible, understandable way. Therefore, if Amy's plug were cut to approximately ½ as long, we would be cutting drastically into the Democracy Now fundraising potential.
We are already taking the maximum number of phone calls our system can handle. We are technically incapable of taking calls in higher volume or more quickly. To significantly increase the phone room capacity has been estimated to cost $80,000 - $100,000. Even if we could do that, we have no guarantee that we would have the number of phone room volunteers necessary to handle that volume so early in the morning. After 9:00 am, KPFA staff can supplement the ranks of the phone volunteers.
Jim Bennett, interim General Manager, has not refused to make the change. He has merely recommended prerequisites to the programming change -- cautious due diligence to ensure that the change is appropriately aligned with the listening audience "stakeholders" to minimize fallout, and maximize buy-in of the change, and the potential financial consequences.
He recommended specifically to the Program Council, in a memo dated March 16, 2004 (see attachment 2 for complete details) that KPFA:
Develop a current survey for listeners (see footnote  below)
 In a post-9/11 world, it is essential we look again at listeners' needs and uses of radio to better measure today's listening habits and requirements. Although a serious and significant undertaking of KPFA's audience needs was conducted through the Community Needs Assessment report, it has been four years since the responses were gathered about news, information and music/arts programming. Since then, not only have numerous programs and programmers rotated on and off our airwaves, but in 2000, 200l, and 2002, Democracy Now ran only once a day, at 9:00 am. It is important in our new survey findings that we do not confuse percentages with individual body count responses, so that we make responsible conclusions and broadcast decisions. Please see attached memo from Mary Berg (attachment 3) explaining the survey response breakdown, which notes that 57 people out of 1,130 total respondents stated they wanted to hear Democracy Now at a different time of the day. 1,130 is small measure of our total listenership, and 57 responses is too small a sample from which to make such a significant change.
William: I support the substitute motion on the floor. There are problems with democracy at the station. It is not transparent. I don’t believe this process has been fair. The PC never voted to bring this to the LSB.
Miguel: Here we go again creating another diversion, wasting countless hours. We are community radio. We need to serve the community. The staff cannot determine what is best for everyone. We have to honor a democratically made decision of the PC.
Max B.: I am against the sub motion. What’s is at stake here is a threat to the democratic process. The PC had the right to make this decision. We have staff people on the LSB because the community fought for it. It is not my intention to micro-manage the station. The sky is not going to fall. Tomas is right, let’s try it. If in 6 months it doesn’t work, we’ll change it again.
Willie R.: It seems to be that the LSB had nothing to do with this decision. We should all have something to do with this decision. It’s time to make sure a decision is democratized. We need to start over in setting up our structures. Why are people trying to jam stuff down our throat? Find out for yourself. Use your own mind. A lot of us have better things to do than sit through all this crap. Why do you think you need to be so powerful? Why wouldn’t we spend the time to get listener input.
Fadi: Last fall, I voted against this. However, at the end I said I would respect the democratic vote of the PC.
Max P.: (full text provided to note-taker) I support the sub motion. We’ve heard testimony today suggesting that the MS/DN! time change will adversely effect our mission of providing quality local programming for our signal area. It’s imperative we put aside our own interests and wants and act in the best interests of our listeners, many of whom think they’re better served by programming that reflects the varied needs of this area. It’s crucial in this time when the Bay Area, State and Nation are in an important election year that people are allowed to hear issues affecting them at the Intl., national and, most importantly, LOCAL level. Marnie and Bonnie’s materials show that our fundraising activities could be severely impacted. We are charged as a Board with keeping the station financially viable, growing our audience and staying true to our progressive mission. Political considerations, personal preferences and other non-relevant considerations have to be put aside. This Board is mandated with serving all of our listeners and potential new listeners. A programming change during morning drive is of crucial importance and is to be given all the necessary analysis that it is due.
Carol: As a member of the PC, a process began last March to look at our morning line-up. We added a second airing of DN! We did that as part of a planned progression and did a lot of analysis. I hope the new PC will bring in 10 new local programs in the time that will be opened up by moving DN! to 7am. We will then be able to open up an evening slot for a DN! re-air.
Willie T.: I have new information about a case of micro-management in Los Angeles. I am in support of the sub motion.
Gerald: What you see here is an attempt to throw sand in the eyes of people who don’t know. (He was asked to restate.) We are wasting a lot of time and I can only see that it is deliberate. (This also was controversial.)
Mark : I would move that the speaker be seated.
Gerald: There have already been listener surveys done. These people just don’t agree with the results. What you see is those who want to defend the listeners and those who want to protect the staff.
Lisa: I support the sub motion. As a staff person who is responsible for raising money, I feel I know what is going to happen. I am not just here as a staff person, I am here to serve the listeners. This sub motion would be a comprehensive survey. If we are going to air DN! at night, we could know when people want to hear it. It is respectful of the listeners, the staff and the LSB.
Michael Lubin calls the orders of the day.
Lisa asks a point of information what made this agenda different from the LSB's previous agendas where calling the orders of the day had not been an option.
Michael explains that this agenda does not include the phrase "times
Call the question to end debate
Vote on Substitute Motion: 11 in favor, 12 opposed. Motion fails.
Vote on the Main Motion: 12 in favor, 11 opposed. Motion passes.
Unknown member: For the first time, an agenda excluded language that made this very easy and there has been an abuse of the system.
William: The secretary made statements in regard to the programs changes in the name of the Board without the permission of the Board.
Recess for 10 minutes from 3:20-3:30
Howard: It seems that the Board is very divided right now and it would good for each of us to provide a statement about how they are feeling about what has just occurred.
Motion: Every voting member to have 30 seconds to speak about how they feel right now.
William: I think it is interesting that a motion passed. I was told that people who supported the sub motion were self-interested. This is becoming really personal and I see personal attacks here.
Max B.: I feel very strongly about this issue and I hope this doesn’t become trench warfare.
Marnie: We need a bridge over troubled waters.
Annie: Chris Swain swam the entire length of the Colombia River. (she read a portion of the article about stakeholders and bias)
Sarv Randhawa: I think that those who feel that 50% +1 is victory are mistaken. “It is pernicious to have groups seek to win with 50%+1 vote”
Bonnie: This LSB just voted that we believe this decision will not affect our finances. I feel we are holding the listeners in disdain. We barely even know each other. We are building a house with a sandy foundation.
Riva: Clear Channel banned “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Let’s build that bridge.
Mark: Some of us lost, some of us won. In the end, majority rules. We have lot of other things we need to do.
Sepideh: I do not take things personally, even if it is personal. This is a political process. In democracy, sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.
LaVarn: We must all look inward into what happened here. To have a democracy is the important thing and what we must maintain.
Willie R.: Look at the democracy we took to Iraq. We are putting everything before the process. We have a Council here that is running wild. If you think that this is the last, you are mistaken. There is some White Supremacy happening here. The staff is just as important as anybody here.
Lisa: I appreciate what Sarv said about close votes. I urge us to have mediation of some kind. This is evidenced in the decorum we have seen here.
Gerald: I feel warm and fuzzy all over that we won the vote. Y’all lost. Get over it.
Ted: I ran for the Board to support the station. I hope we can get past the bitterness and start working together again.
Mary: The PC is not necessarily the democratic body it has been portrayed as. There has been so much vitriol. The listeners are still left out and I am going to keep fighting for a survey.
Carol: KPFA has had deep divisions in its history. It makes us vulnerable. I believe division is not disrespect. I hope that we can disagree without impugning each other’s dignity.
Steve: I didn’t go into the PC with an agenda. The issues came up naturally. The review of the information and doing what was right was my motivation. We have worked together in this environment. Staff worked with us to reach these conclusions.
Jane: The rights of the disabled have been dishonored in these meetings. If we have another inaccessible meeting, I will call it illegal.
Fadi: After the first meeting I was really frustrated. KPFA is beautiful. Being on the LSB is wonderful. I agree with Carol. Fighting at these board meetings, who cares?
Michael: I strongly object to the allegation of White Supremacy.
Mark: there have been a lot of changes in the world since the survey in 2000. Attempts to limit debate. To quote Curt Gray “This is not about programming but about power.” When you work behind the scenes to subvert process, where is the democracy?
Motion: to adjourn.
There was an extended discussion about how to move the agenda ahead.
Motion: to continue from where we left off in the agenda (at VIIIb.)
Motion to adjourn.
Motion to table the executive session.
Motion to adjourn.
There was an unresolved discussion about the scheduling the next few meetings.