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How to donate to KPFA without giving to the Pacifica Foundation

It’s never a dull moment over at listener supported radio station KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California. Here’s some of the latest poop:

Former WBAI-FM Program Director Andrew Phillips is headed to become the station’s interim manager, following the resignation of the last guy (who lasted about a month). You can find a brief mention of Phillips in my second book on Pacifica here.

Brian Edwards-Tiekert of the recently tanked KPFA Morning Show has been re-hired with back pay. The Pacifica Foundation, which owns KPFA, is not challenging his union appeal.

“Pacifica has basically conceded it can’t win the pending arbitration over my dismissal,” Edwards-Tiekert explained in a public letter.

But he’s been hired to work in the News Department, it should be noted, not on the Morning Show. And the job of his co-host Aimee Allison has not been restored.

Meanwhile KPFA News reporter John Hamilton has now been laid off, just as he returned from live coverage of the labor struggles in Wisconsin. Talented, dynamic, formerly with Democracy Now—Hamilton was a huge infusion of creative energy for KPFA. On the right check out his investigative report on the Byron Williams ACLU/Tides Foundation alleged assassination attempt.

Critics of the move question the need for the layoff. I’m going to skip the inevitable he said/she said on this decision. Bottom line, if you didn’t like these people, you’re happy about these developments. If you are like me and you loved them, well, it’s a problem.

I’ve been pretty discouraged about the station since Aimee and Brian’s version of the Morning Show got nuked, and listen a lot less. Still, despite the fact that I’ve drifted away, I have a strong emotional attachment to KPFA and want to help (I did write two books about the place, after all).

Some KPFA supporters seem to think that giving more to the station during pledge drives will somehow convince Pacifica to keep Hamilton on. Good luck with that.

As for me, I just don’t want to give any cash to the Pacifica Foundation, whose principals—Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt and CFO LaVarn Williams—very loudly supported the Morning Show purge. Pacifica gets a 20 percent chunk of KPFA’s pledge drive income.

But there are ways to give to KPFA while denying Caesar her fifth of the take. These suggestions are, presumably, applicable to the other five Pacifica stations as well—they being WBAI in New York City, KPFK in Los Angeles, WPFW in Washington, DC, and KPFT in Houston.

Give during non-pledge drive periods

Pacifica does not tithe non-pledge drive related income. So if you contribute via KPFA’s online form, your money goes entirely to the station, but only if (nota bene) you do it two weeks after the last fund drive ends.

The safest way to donate without giving to Pacifica is to mail KPFA an old school check or money order. Just make it out to KPFA and send it to 1929 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley, CA, 94704. You can do that any time.

Buy tickets to KPFA events

Pacifica doesn’t tax KPFA events like speaker events and forums. So purchasing tickets to those occasions is a great way to support the station and, of course, enjoy an interesting evening.

Attend the Holiday KPFA Crafts Fair

The money from your purchase ticket to the fair goes entirely to the station, and not to Pacifica. Ditto for any non-pledge product you buy directly from KPFA there (a t-shirt, bumper sticker, book, etc).

Make in-kind donations

During a pledge drive, call a delivery restaurant near KPFA and order food for the volunteer pledge call takers. Or buy some kind of equipment for the station. Rest assured, KPFA can always use more office or equipment supplies. And you can get a tax deduction for that too.

Donate your old car or other dying transportation device

The next time your clunker reaches death’s door, donate it to Vehicles for Charity, specifying that the remaining net worth goes to KPFA. This will also get you a deduction from Uncle Sam.

Put KPFA in your will

In addition, when you reach death’s door, you can leave a chunk of your net worth to KPFA as well. This too will go entirely to the station.

There’s one more possibility: pledge to the SaveKPFA bring-back-the-morning-show fund, which has amassed a considerable chunk of change ready to hand over to KPFA if the old Morning Show is restored. But Pacifica seems pretty adamant about sticking with the status quo. So that’s a maybe strategy, not a sure thing.

I can anticipate some push back to these suggestions. The most important is that Pacifica in various ways funds  Democracy Now, Free Speech Radio News, and the Pacifica Archives.

Here’s the simple fix for this problem. Just directly donate to these venues yourself. They all have PayPal or similar donation buttons on their sites. Now your money is going to programming. None of it is headed for Pacifica central, with its crazy internal politics.

One final caveat—Pacifica can change or try to change these rules if it wants. Or it can just raid KPFA’s accounts if the Pacifica National Office is desperate. But generally these fund collecting protocols apply.

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13 Responses to How to donate to KPFA without giving to the Pacifica Foundation

  1. Paul Riismandel March 5, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Whoa, I’m shocked to hear about John Hamilton being laid off. I met John years ago when he was working at Madison’s WORT, and KPFA could not have a more qualified and passionate reporter on the scene in the Wisconsin Capitol than John.

    It’s so sad how time after time people at Pacifica stations are willing to cut of their nose to spite their face. Do they even have any face left?

  2. Kim Kaufman March 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Here’s a different version of the situation at KPFA, with facts, written by someone who’s been in and around KPFA for many years:

    Dear KPFA Listeners,

    I am writing to give clarity and to correct the misinformation, that you

    have been hearing for the past three months on KPFA, up to and during

    the current fund drive, from some of KPFA’s paid staff including Aileen

    Alfandary, Marc Mericle, Mitch Jeserich and Brian Edwards Tiekert. This

    includes the heralding of Brian’s “triumphant return to KPFA” on Monday,

    February 28th , after being “laid off” for the past three months, due

    to the financial crisis at KFPA and Pacifica. In truth, Brian never left!

    Those of you who listen to KPFA regularly have continued to hear Brian

    on the air, during the past three months, reporting on the KPFA News and

    sitting in for various KPFA hosts including CS Soong and Mitch Jeserich.

    The truth of the matter is that Brian did not have to be “laid off” three months ago. He could have used his CWA union contractual “bumping rights” to replace John Hamilton, as soon as he was notified that

    he was being “laid off”, because John had less seniority on staff at KPFA than Brian.

    Brian chose to “leave” KPFA three months ago, because he was hoping that

    the subsequent on-air and email campaign mounted by the above-referenced paid KPFA staff and their “concerned listener/savekpfa” allies, would pressure Pacifica management into reinstating the former Morning Show with him and Aimee Allison as co-hosts. (I sincerely believe that Brian

    was one of, if not THE key orchestrator of this campaign.)

    When Brian, and his allies, finally realized that Pacifica’s management

    was not going to capitulate to this on air/email campaign, they created

    the ruse of Brian’s “return” to KPFA, on Monday, February 28th, and the

    subsequent “lay off” of John Hamilton. None of the above named people

    who “reported” on these events on KPFA, linked the two of them together,

    nor mentioned that John Hamilton was laid off because Brian finally

    decided to use his CWA union contractual bumping rights due to having

    more KPFA staff seniority than John.

    Below are excerpts from two statements written by George Reiter and

    Arlene Engelhardt, that give clarity to KPFA and Pacifica’s dire

    financial situation, resulting in the layoffs of paid KPFA staff members

    Brian and Aimee:

    In Nov. 2010, former Pacifica National Board Chair George Reiter stated:

    “… What is at stake is the financial viability of the Pacifica

    Foundation, and its ability to manage the stations in the Network. That

    viability depends on the ability of each of the stations to raise

    sufficient money to meet payroll and expenses. That hasn’t been

    happening at KPFA for at least two years…”

    In December, 2010, Arlene Engelhardt, Pacifica’s Executive Director,

    stated: “…Over the past five years KPFA has suffered a 27% drop in

    annual income — including a 30% decline of more than a $1.2 million in

    annual listener support. Since 2007 KPFA has lost almost $1.5 million


    (You can read their complete statements, as well as other factual

    information about KPFA and Pacifica by going to):

  3. mal burnstein March 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    It is wonderful to have someone from Los Angeles correcting the “facts” of what is happening on the ground 400 miles north of her. The only problem is that nothing of what she says is true. Indeed, she is only quoting a nameless correspondent who, for all we know, might as well be a spokesperson for the government of Libya. I am a member of the KPFA Local Station Board and at least have local knowledge.

    Fact: The hosts of The Morning Show were fired, ostensibly for financial reasons, in violation of the union contract in November. Fact: though they were paid for the next 30 days, they were forbidden to broadcast their show for that time, thereby putting the lie to the claim that the firing was economic. Fact: outraged listeners pledged over $60,000 to reinstate the hosts and the show. Fact: Pacifica management refuses to accept the pledges, or even discuss the subject. Fact: Brian Edwards-Tiekert was not originally given bumping rights. Fact: Brian did not bump John Hamilton, who was fired after Brian was reinstated; and Brian was reinstated to a different job than that from which Hamilton was fired. Fact: KPFA is raising money well in excess of budget and there is absolutely no, NO economic reason to terminate Hamilton. And so on.

    Ms. Kaufman is not only wrong; but deliberately so.

  4. Brian Edwards-Tiekert March 6, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi Kim,

    I’m not sure why Chandra thinks she knows more about my situation than I do. Clearly, she’s not a fan of the Morning Show, and doesn’t want it back. While I’m happy to be contributing to KPFA in whatever way I can, I do want The Morning Show back, and rejoining the station’s payroll as a news reporter does not mean I’m “giving up” on efforts to bring back Aimee and what was KPFA’s most listened-to local program.

    Remember: When Aimee and I were laid off, Pacifica’s official spin was that it didn’t want to get rid of the Morning Show–it just, they claimed, had to lay off Aimee and I first because of Pacifica’s rigorous adherence to our union contract.

    Which was, we maintained, bullshit. And the fact that Pacifica’s had to put me back on payroll–with back pay–proves we were right.

    What Pacifica made was an editorial decision. An editorial decision to get rid of the station’s biggest fundraiser. An editorial decision that should call into question Pacifica ED Arlene Engelhardt’s motives, or her competency.

    Which, you know–our union contract can’t keep Pacifica from making terrible editorial decisions. Our contract does, however, protect us from arbitrary and retaliatory termination, which is why I’m back on payroll now–and which is why Pacifica no longer has financial necessity as an excuse for keeping the Morning Show off the air.

    If you want facts:

    1) Pacifica management broke off talks over my seniority rights in December, when it started stonewalling basic information requests from our union.

    2) Our union proceeded to take my grievance toward binding arbitration.

    3) My union rep says Pacifica management then approached her in February with an offer of an “unconditional return to work” and a “make whole” offer to give me back-pay and reimbursement for my out-of pocket COBRA payments. (If Pacifica management’s position is that I had the power to “bump” someone at any time, I doubt they’d be going out of their way pay me all that money for time when I purportedly was choosing not to exercise my right to work at the station.)

    At no time did Pacifica or my union communicate to me that anyone else would be laid off as a condition of my return to work. In fact, our union has not agreed to John’s layoff, and will be fighting it. The job title Pacifica gave me for my return to work is different from John Hamilton’s–I’m a reporter, he’s an anchor. The duties are radically different: he puts 59-minute newscasts together from the studio, I put 4-minute feature segments together from the field. They’re also paying me more hours per week than they pay John Hamilton.

    As several of us made clear to KPFA’s Interim Program Director shortly before John’s layoff: KPFA has adequate resources to continue operating without further layoffs for the time being. First-quarter financial results show it outperformed its budget by $290,000. In fact, KPFA has enough money to bring back Aimee Allison and put the Morning Show back on the air.

    Instead, management is trying to lay John off and, by some contorted logic, blame me for it. Which is a pretty transparent attempt to defame and divide our union, and something that an purportedly progressive institution like Pacifica should be above.

  5. Mark Ferrigno March 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    I wanted to say “Thank you” to Matthew for the helpful donation suggestions and to Brian for the facts and clarifications.

    I don’t know where Kim is getting her information, but it sure sounds fishy to me.

    I also wanted to point out that any intelligent person who hears Arlene Engelhart speak (regarding the recent lay-offs at KPFA) should be able to tell that she is not trustworthy. Her arguments are not convincing and appear to be blatantly dishonest. She also sounds just plain mean-spirited. I am not exactly sure what her ultimate goal is, or if she is being pushed to make these decisions by someone else, but I do not like the idea that a blatant liar is currently in charge of the board at Pacifica.

    How do we get Arlene removed from Pacifica?

    She appears to be trying to destroy KPFA, and this should not be tolerated.

    A very concerned KPFA member and listener,

    Mark Ferrigno

  6. Eleanor Rigby March 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Well, poop is one way to describe a bunch of bullshit. There are stronger words. I hate to break it to you all, but the horrible thing that has happened is that KPFA has finally stopped losing a half a million dollars a year. I know it’s heartbreaking, but Engelhardt’s intervention, even though she waited until the very last moment, has finally interrupted the nonstop 2 year long financial hemorrhaging that had KPFA on its last legs. No one can replace the $750,000 reserve that walked out the door under 2 years of Concerned Listeners/Save KPFA joke-budgets, but the corner has been rounded – and just in the nick of time.

    You are lucky, just plain lucky, that some folks were willing to take a lot of crap to keep KPFA alive.

  7. Carol Spooner March 9, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Read Matthew Lasar’s response to this comment here.

    Thanks Eleanor Rigby. Matthew, you’re full of it here. If Pacifica goes under, then KPFA will go to the highest bidder in bankruptcy court — and that won’t be a friendly takeover.

    Here’s what Arlene Engelhardt Pacifica ED, and Carrie Core KPFA’s interim Program Director, sent out today.

    KPFA Financial Information and Layoffs

    Over the past several months there has been a lot of contention about layoffs at KPFA. This is understandable. Nobody likes to lose their job, and nobody likes to make the hard decision to lay people off. Here are the facts:

    KPFA’S Financial Situation

    Over the past 6 years (from 10/1/04 through the fiscal year that ended 9/30/2010) KPFA’s annual listener support dropped almost 30% — from $4 million in 2005 to $2.8 million in 2010.

    KPFA’s total annual income dropped almost 26% over the same period — from $4.3 million in FY 2005 to $3.6 million in FY 2010.

    In the meanwhile, KPFA’s total expenses were cut by only about $152k, including a reduction in salaries and related expenses of about $30k from FY 2005 to FY 2010.

    The result was that KPFA has been operating at a deficit since 2007, and has lost a total of $1.5 million over the four years from October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2010.

    KPFA’s first quarter financial report for this fiscal year is encouraging (Oct 1 – Dec 31, 2010).

    We were almost $335k over budgeted income, primarily due to a good response to our 5-day December mini-fund drive (line 20). We were almost $97k over budget on expenses (line 34), including about $29k over budget on salaries and related expenses and about $93k over budget on Central Services (shared network expenses which are charged as a percentage of listener support). We had an operating surplus for the first quarter of about $191k (line 35). KPFA did not pay its budgeted catch-up payment of last year’s unpaid shared expenses to the National Office (line 49) or its share of repayment of restricted funds used in prior years to help cover deficit spending (line 48), so the report shows KPFA’s capital expense are $52k under budget — but those moneys are still due.

    However encouraging our first quarter this year was, it’s not yet a trend. We will need several good quarters to turn the corner at KPFA. Our current fund drive is almost on track to make our budgeted goal, but that still remains to be seen. A bad fund drive any time this year could easily take us back into deficit if we do not keep our expenses under control. Most of our expenses are fixed and cannot be reduced much further — so salaries and related expenses must be reduced to balance the budget, payoff our debts, and to rebuild our rainy day reserves.

    The Layoffs

    This year’s budget calls for a reduction in salaries and related expenses of about $521k over last year in order to balance the budget. To accomplish this goal, all staff were offered a voluntary termination package with 30 days’ pay. Seven (mostly part time) staff members took the package, but that was not enough to meet the need. So, two part time staff members were laid off involuntarily — the hosts of the Morning Show. The layoffs were conducted in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. That agreement includes a provision allowing laid off employees to “bump” less senior employees if they have the qualifications to perform the less senior employee’s job. By “bumping”, the laid off employee would take the place of the less senior employee, and the less senior employee replaces the more senior employee on layoff. Pacifica, the union and the two laid off employees met in late 2010 about identifying employees whom the laid off employees could bump. The union agreed that Brian Edwards-Tiekert would bump a less senior employee in the News Department, John Hamilton (and told us that Brian agreed to that bump). So that is what has happened, since KPFA does not have the funds for both positions.

    Why the Former Morning Show Will Not Return to KPFA

    Eliminating the Former Morning Show was the most cost-effective programming change we could make at KPFA. Three part-time positions were eliminated (two Hosts and one producer) or 2.3 full-time-equivalent positions, each with full benefits as all employees working at least half-time receive full health benefits. This saves KPFA approximately $147k per year in salaries, payroll taxes and health benefits.

    What about the money raised by the former Morning Show? The 7-9 am time slot is the biggest fundraiser throughout public and listener-supported radio. Our experience with the December 5-day mini-fund-drive was that moving Democracy Now! to the 7 am slot increased the average daily pledges for that hour by about $2,600 per day. The new Morning Mix program was not yet on the air. But our premiums pitching for that hour raised almost exactly the same average hourly pledges as the old Morning Show did.

    Overall, the December drive was very successful and the daily pledges received were higher than average. However, the results for the morning drive time are very encouraging, and suggest that the change in the morning line-up will not hurt our fundraising much, if at all, while saving KPFA almost $150k in salaries and related expenses over the course of a year.

    We understand that programming changes are difficult both for our listeners and our staff. We have been getting both supportive feedback and complaints. But we hope our listeners will understand that our goal is to pull the station out of its dire financial situation so that we can remain on the air and bring you the best programming we can in the years to come. Your continued support during these hard times is crucial to the survival of KPFA.

    Thank You,

    Arlene Engelhardt, Pacifica Executive Director

    Carrie Core, KPFA Interim Program Director

  8. mal burnstein March 9, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Spooner may be correct about a bankruptcy; therefore Pacifica ought to seriously change its ways and stop alienating its listeners by absurd programming decisions using false and misleading excuses.

  9. Carol Spooner March 9, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    KPFA was “functionally bankrupt” — had negative “working capital”, i.e., more current liabilities than current assets — at the end of September 2010, per the auditor’s report.

    There is no way to avoid bankruptcy other than reducing expenses — which means reducing the payroll.

    The listeners were lost already — there was a 30% drop in listener support from 2005 to 2010. Those are facts.

    Supporting creative new moves to stop the bleeding and build audience support for affordable programming is what is needed — not the interminable narcissistic whining about the loss of a couple jobs, sad though that may be.

  10. Stan Woods March 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    Read Matthew Lasar’s response to this comment here.

    We have the perplexing situation in which Pacifica’s historian is advocating actions that could lead to the destruction of Pacifica !

    Not totally surprisnig in that Lasar has become an opponent of most of the necessary reforms that that the network undertook since the near death experience that Pacifica underwent at the hands of Corporatist ”highjackers” in the end of the 1990’s.

    The most prominent is having accountable, recallable , elected station boards .

    Lasar while at first saying that he supported Listeners and staff electing their reps now has adapted the mantra of the Corporate media , that only experinced ”professionals ” should run the network . And that the only proper role of listeners is to donate (and uncritically applaud their ”wise ”decisions )

    Now Lasar wants listeners to donate in the way that would circumvent the critical funding of the network (as Carol Spooner convincely showed )

    That fact that this strategy, if successful , could lead to destruction of Pacifica apparently doesn’t concern him (not withstanding his token acknowledgment of the other Pacifica stations . )

    Now more than ever we need a strong radical cutting edge alternative to the corporate media . A previous post mention Madison’s WORT . Where would WORT and the many other stations affilated to Pacifica be if the network to collapse ? Lasar and his close allies like Mal Burnstein , who proposed a motion at the KPFA Lsb last fall that KPFA start exploding ways to break apart from Pacifica have their vision of Pacifica . Many others(including Unionized paid programmers like Miguel Molina,Dennis Bernstein and others ) have a dramatic

    different one . We will see which one the listeners choose .

  11. Matthew Lasar March 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Now that two people have used the word “bullshit” on this thread and Carol Spooner intemperately insists that I am “full of it,” it is time to conclude this discussion.

    Carol Spooner, it should be noted, is one of the boosters of the democratized board system that has cost the Pacifica network at least $2.4 million dollars over the last eight years (more by now) and delivered the organization into a new lower circle of dysfunction. It is unclear to me what exactly Carol thinks I’m “full of it” about. In my post I made it plain that I was speaking for myself. I don’t particularly want to listen to KPFA’s new mediocre “Morning Mix” with its hodgepodge of volunteers. Surely Carol doesn’t dispute that I have personal preferences when it comes to radio.

    I also acknowledged that others may feel differently about the matter. Does Carol dispute that? Lastly, I pointed out that I don’t want to give the Foundation that made this decision any more money, and offered suggestions on how to donate to KPFA without donating to Pacifica.

    To this, Spooner responds with blackmail. Pay up or Pacifica will go bankrupt and you’ll lose KPFA. That’s Pacifica’s motto now: Even if you think we suck, send us cash or we’ll die.

    I’ve already lost KPFA, Carol. Pacifica may or may not go bankrupt, but the thinking in your response certainly has. If Pacifica is listening to you, it is probably counting on the dwindling support of listeners who want KPFA to go back to the way it was almost a third of a century ago—the all-volunteer time sharing model, every "community" member the monarch of her 25 minutes of air.

    Stan Woods will probably be surprised to know that I appreciate his honesty. Woods’ harangue reveals the truth—that this fight is not and was never about money. It’s about dumping people at KPFA because some board members and other station staff don’t like their supposedly mainstream politics and want their airtime to go to others (or themselves).

    I don’t know what will or will not keep KPFA afloat, but I’m not optimistic. KPFA is now operating in the most competitive media environment in its 62 year history. I have a wide range of radio choices, including KALW-FM of the San Francisco Unified School District and three other listener supported FM stations in the area, among them KQED-FM, KCSM-FM, and a new listener supported classical music station.

    This doesn’t include the fact that I can access much of what KPFA provides on my Internet desktop or mobile phone, including Democracy Now and Al Jazeera. Bottom line: I don’t need KPFA for those services. What I need it for is competent local programming—the deliverers of which (Brian, Aimee, John Hamilton) Pacifica can’t throw out on the street fast enough.

    I think I’m being pretty generous about wanting to continue to support KPFA at all, given that I don’t even listen to the station any more. It is your narcissism that sees none of this, Carol, and just imagines that I and others will mindlessly send money to Pacifica, no matter what.

    That’s the last word on this thread. Carol Spooner: don’t bother to e-mail Radio Survivor with another rant—unless it includes an apology.

  12. Tracy Rosenberg March 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    I meant to respond to this on Radio Survivor, where it was originally

    posted, but not having gotten around to it for a few days, I discovered

    this morning Lasar has “closed off” further comments on his blog entry.

    Somehow that seems a bit ridiculous in a discussion about “free speech

    radio”, but c’est la vie. I shall respond here and presumably it will make

    its way back through the tunnels of cyberspace.

    At least Matthew and I agree that his post is full of poop.

    Let’s begin with the matter of the “rehire” of Edwards-Tiekert. It’s

    unlikely any attorney working for a not-for-profit foundation would allow

    their client to make a public statement on a matter of litigation unless

    that statement was bulletproof. Attorneys get sued for malpractice for

    much less. So if Pacifica was cleared to release a public statement that

    Edwards-Tiekert bumped John Hamilton to take his part-time news position

    on the basis of greater seniority, then you can pretty much take it to the

    bank that is what happened.

    Which should be a surprise to absolutely no one as Edwards-Tiekert would

    have been informed of that option months ago. That he chose to take it

    prior to arbitration would be his assessment of the likely outcome of the

    arbitration. It is the complainant who chooses whether or not to follow

    through on their complaint. Edwards-Tiekert seems to have concluded he was unlikely to be returned to a position hosting an AM show. Based on the

    union contract, I would have to agree with him.

    More importantly – let’s address some of the misconceptions or outright

    falsehoods presented here. (I have no idea which they are. I’d be inclined

    to think an official historian would know better, but maybe this is an

    object lesson in why official histories of anything should always be taken

    with the veritable grain of salt).

    Pacifica’s tithe is 17%. An additional 2.5% funds the digitization and

    preservation of the network’s archival material which is kept in a

    warehouse room at KPFK in Los Angeles and provides 25-35% of the

    fundraising goodies given away during marathons at free-to-low cost to the

    stations. Pacifica’s tithe of approximately half a million per year is 25%

    Democracy Now programming fees, with the balance covering $200,000 of

    insurance, annual audit fees, license maintenance, legal, annual 990,

    $90,00 in satellite fees and so on. Things that have to be paid for radio

    stations to operate – no matter who pays them.

    So if listeners decide they don’t want to pay for these things, they only

    want to pay for the things KPFA pays for itself, then Matthew proposes to

    tell you how to do it. But much of the information is either flat-out

    wrong or deceptive. (Besides the obvious point that a radio station that

    fails to renew its license, file its form 990, or insure its premises

    won’t be a radio station for too long).

    — Give during non-pledge drive periods

    Non-pledge drive income is subject to central services. Has been for a

    while. Whether it comes in on the web or via check.

    — Pacifica doesn’t tax KPFA events like speaker events and forums.

    This is true. The reason Pacifica doesn’t levy these events is because

    they don’t make much money. The last 3 years, speaker events have

    generated an average of $37,000 a year in income and cost an average of

    $23,000 in direct expenses plus a half-time union employee to coordinate

    them who costs around $35,000-$40,000 a year. Net income = zip. Doesn’t

    mean they’re not worth doing as a service to the community, but no actual

    income is generated from them.

    — Attend the Holiday KPFA Crafts Fair.

    Pretty much the same story here, although not quite as stark. The fair

    costs around $100,000 a year in direct expenses and earns about $190,000 from booth rentals and admissions. It also takes a half-time union

    employee to coordinate it at $35,000 – $40,000, so after all is said and

    done, the receipts are fairly modest at around $50,000 to $60,000. It

    helps in December when funds tend to be tight, but again it is a very

    limited source of station support and doesn’t go far towards covering

    $240,000 a month in operating expenses for 12 months of the year.

    — Make in-kind donations

    Sure. In-kind donations are great. So is volunteering. But you still have

    to cover the checks every month or you won’t be there. I have yet to be

    successful paying an electric bill with donated pizza.

    — The next time your clunker reaches death’s door, donate it to Vehicles

    for Charity, specifying that the remaining net worth goes to KPFA.

    The problem is those clunkers aren’t worth all that much. $20,000 worth of

    income on average. Annually.

    — When you reach death’s door, you can leave a chunk of your net worth to


    I realize that KPFA’s audience is aging, so this may be a better strategy

    than it would be for many other organizations, but it has its limits.

    So, basically, the strategy described here for an organization with well

    over three million dollars in direct expenses every year is bequests from

    deceased people, clunker car trade-ins and Christmas crafts.

    Fortunately, most of the listeners seem to know better; having contributed

    a heartening $1.12 million dollars to the fundraising marathons of the

    last 90 days. And I am delighted to say KPFA is currently operating at a

    surplus for the first time in two years – thanks to your support – and

    will make every effort to continue doing so for the rest of this year, so

    it can rebuild at least a months worth of liquid cash reserves in the bank

    and stop spewing red ink all over the place.

  13. Matthew Lasar March 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Tracy, in the immortal words of Hamlet’s mother: methinks thou doth protest too much.

    I write a post expressing my disappointment at the fact that Pacifica has dumped (or tried to dump) three of my favorite programmers at KPFA, note that I’ve stopped listening, but suggest limited ways to contribute to the station, and between Tracy Rosenberg and Carol Spooner I am suddenly the Eviscerator of the Pacifica Foundation.

    I’m detecting just a little bit of insecurity here. Would Rosenberg and Spooner prefer that I and others disappointed with these changes stop contributing to Pacifica/KPFA at all?

    Here are my responses to Rosenberg’s comments. Of Brian Edwards-Tiekert, she writes:

    “It’s unlikely any attorney working for a not-for-profit foundation would allow their client to make a public statement on a matter of litigation unless that statement was bulletproof. Attorneys get sued for malpractice for much less. if Pacifica was cleared to release a public statement that Edwards-Tiekert bumped John Hamilton to take his part-time news position on the basis of greater seniority, then you can pretty much take it to the bank that is what happened.”

    In other words, if a lawyer says something, it must be true. Wow. There isn’t space in this post to go into the number of times Pacifica has been sued over the last dozen years and lost or paid out settlement money. Bottom line: Rosenberg’s faith in the legal profession is touching. Good to know there’s still some innocence in this world.

    Rosenberg writes: “Pacifica’s tithe is 17%. An additional 2.5% funds the digitization and preservation of the network’s archival material which is kept in a warehouse room at KPFK in Los Angeles . . . . Things that have to be paid for radio stations to operate – no matter who pays them.”

    Readers who followed Rosenberg’s financial summary and are still awake are probably wondering what to think at this point. Again, here’s my perspective. If you think that Pacifica CEO Arlene Engelhardt and CFO LaVarn Williams are doing a great job, nobody is stopping you from contributing to KPFA during pledge drives or even writing a great big fat check to the foundation right here.

    But if you’re like me and you hate what Pacifica did to the Morning Show, you might want to let Tracy Rosenberg, Carol Spooner, and their buddies pay for Arlene and LaVarn’s salaries. That ought to cover filling out KPFA’s FCC 990 form, too. I stand by all the ways I cited as means to contribute to KPFA without contributing to Pacifica. Pacifica may move in and demand a cut of all these revenue sources sooner or later, but as of now KPFA keeps them. Meanwhile, if you want to support the Pacifica Archives and Democracy Now, just go to their sites and make a contribution yourself. That way, none of your hard earned cash will go to “central services.”

    Rosenberg writes: “Let’s address some of the misconceptions or outright falsehoods presented here . . . I’d be inclined to think an official historian would know better . . . ”

    Speaking of misconceptions—I’m not Pacifica’s “official historian.”

    Finally, Rosenberg protests that I closed off comments on this post: “Somehow that seems a bit ridiculous in a discussion about ‘free speech radio’, but c’est la vie.”

    The assertion that KPFA is “free speech radio” would be news to KPFA’s Mitch Jeseritch, who just received an e-mail from Pacifica telling him not to discuss Pacifica’s situation on his show. “We have decided not to permit further discussion of KPFA internal disputes (including personnel or financial matters) on your program at this time,” the missive warned.

    There you go, KPFA subscribers—that 17 percent of your pledge drive contribution dollars at work.

    As for us, Radio Survivor’s updated comments policy now reads as follows:

    “We reserve the right to edit and remove comments as we see fit. The editors may choose, at their discretion, to close comments on a given post at any time.”

    And that’s what I’m doing, again. Everybody has gotten their insults and licks in. Various responses have called me “full of it,” a tool of the corporate media, and now Tracy’s saying I’m possibly a liar. I have not taken down their posts.

    Those of you yearning for further debate on this matter can view the unsolicited repost of this story over at, where I have probably been called a CIA agent by now. Happy? Discussion closed.

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