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Big staff cuts at America's first listener supported radio station

KPFA FM in Berkeley, CaliforniaAlas, my favorite listener supported radio station is not immune to this awful economic slump. KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California has announced across-the-board staff cuts. Looks like everything’s getting sliced. Even the General Manager, Lemlem Rijio, has taken a pay hit.

“These cuts to KPFA staff have been the most difficult thing I have had to do during my tenure at station manager,” Rijio said in a press release sent around to station supporters (see below).

Everything is being retrenched by 20 percent it seems, including programming, operations, development, and administration. It’s all mandated by the Pacifica National Board, which owns KPFA’s license.

“The good news is because of the generosity of our listeners, KPFA is going to survive this difficult financial crisis,” Rijio’s statement continued. “The bad news is in order to survive KPFA will be continuing to cut cost across the boardover the next three to six months. These cuts will impact all programs and operations at KPFA.”

KPFA is America’s first listener supported station, founded by pacifists in 1949. Last time I checked the signal was programmed and run by about 200 people. My favorite public affairs program at KPFA is The Morning Show. My favorite music program is The Bonnie Simmons Show on Thursday nights.

I just renewed my subscription this evening. If you are lucky enough to have some money to spare in these lousy times, the secure online support page is here.

KPFA statement on budget cuts:

“Dear Friends and KPFA Family,

These are very hard times for our listeners, for the media, and for non-profits around the country. The residents of Northern California have been hit hard by the recession and so have we. In our recent fund drives, our listeners have been supporting us consistently, but have only been able to afford to give smaller donations, which has resulted in a significant decline in our revenue. We have been mandated by our parent organization, the Pacifica Foundation and the Pacifica National Board, to make deep cuts to our budget. We have made all the cost reductions we can from non-staff expenses, but we had no choice but to eliminate a number of staff positions and cut the hours of many others. Managers at the station, including myself, have also taken a pay reduction.

Each department at the station – Programming, Operations, Development, and Administration – is being cut by 20 percent. All public affairs programs are being cut across the board and reductions have been made to bring each show’s cost into line with its income. All cuts have been in compliance with the union contract of the paid staff, Communication Workers of America. These cuts to KPFA staff have been the most difficult thing I have had to do during my tenure at station manager.

The good news is because of the generosity of our listeners, KPFA is going to survive this difficult financial crisis. The bad news is in order to survive KPFA will be continuing to cut cost across the board over the next three to six months. These cuts will impact all programs and operations at KPFA.

If you are able to give a little extra to KPFA this winter, it would be much appreciated. We truly operate on a shoestring here and are grateful to every donation. Thank you for your continued support of KPFA and the work we do, going to where the silence is and reporting on the stories that the mainstream media willfully ignores.

Respectfully,

Lemlem Rijio
general manager

KPFA 94.1 FM www.kpfa.org


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