(BERKELEY, CA – September 29, 2010) 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 in the station.
The purge list includes the staff of some of the most successful programs at KPFA — both in terms of popularity and fundraising — 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 insisting that the Morning Show, which 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 fundraise, 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 bylaws and disregards 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 purge would also violate KPFA’s contract with Communications Workers of America Local 9415, which represents the paid staff of KPFA.
The 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 dollars, which Pacifica still has 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 listeners and subscribers to email the Pacifica National Board to demand that these staff and programming cuts not take place and that Pacifica honor KPFA’s union contract. Emails can be sent to the Pacifica National Board through a contact form on the website kpfaworker.org.