Thursday, November 4, 2010

KPFA Employees, Volunteers Protest Job Cuts

About 100 employees, volunteers and listeners of KPFA in Berkeley on Thursday protested job cuts at the station which management says are needed to declining listener donations. (Photos by Doug Oakley)

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Bay Area News Group East Bay
About a hundred people marched, held signs and sang union songs Thursday to protest layoffs at Berkeley based radio station KPFA, the liberal bastion on the FM dial.
Facing a drop of about $500,000 a year in listener donations and other funding for each of the last three years, KPFA's parent organization, Pacifica Foundation, plans to cut the equivalent of seven full time jobs from a paid staff whose full and part time hours add up to about 30 full time positions, said Tracy Rosenberg, a KPFA and Pacifica board member.
Rosenberg said the station's budget this year is about $3.6 million, but the station only has brought in $2.5 million through fundraising. The payroll alone she said is about $2 million and that will go down to $1.7 million with the layoffs.
In addition to KPFA, Pacifica owns licenses for four other radios stations around the country.
The Berkeley radio station also has about 150 volunteers, and many of them were at Thursday's picket of the station's parent organization on Martin Luther King Jr. Way Thursday.
Sasha Lilley, a paid employee and host of a program called Against the Grain, said Pacifica could avoid layoffs at KPFA by cutting the budget of the national staff that runs Pacifica Foundation.
"When listeners donate to KPFA, they expect the money to go to programming, not to governance and national bureaucracy," Lilley said. "The Pacifica national board has dismissed our recommendations to cut back on the bureaucracy. Twenty one percent of our income goes to the national bureaucracy." 
But Rosenberg said there is no way around the cuts because listeners don't have the money to send the station.
"We've had a 20 percent decline in donations every year since 2006," Rosenberg said. "A lot of our listeners these days don't even have jobs."
News reporter Christopher Martinez, a part-time employee who covers the state capitol in Sacramento, has worked at the station about seven years. He says he is on the list to lose his job. And he disputes the idea that the layoffs have to be made because KPFA listeners don't donate enough.
"KPFA raises enough money to run the station, just not enough money to support the national staff and national board who don't even do any fundraising," Martinez said.

1 comment:

  1. Doug,

    Tracy Rosenberg's numbers don't pass a simple math test--the numbers in your story don't add up. Only $2.5 million of fundraising? KPFA would already be out of business. Rosenberg doesn't speak for Pacifica -- she's just one of 22 national board members, and a somewhat obsessive crank who's had a vendetta against KPFA's staff for a long time. The truth is that the amount Pacifica is forcing KPFA to cut $500,000--is less than them amount Pacifica is squeezing from KPFA--$810,000. And KPFA's union has already but $250,000 worth of common-sense cost-saving measures on the table that Pacifica has flat-out rejected.