KPFA’s Spring Fund Drive ended Wednesday, May 25, a little more than $80,000 short of goal. It was the longest fund drive at KPFA in at least a dozen years, clocking in at a full three and a half weeks.
The entire shortfall can be explained by the drop in fundraising from 6-10 AM – the hours impacted by the programming changes Pacifica management imposed on KPFA. Year over year, fundraising during those hours dropped by more than $5,000 per day – $90,000 over the course of the drive – and likely would have dropped much more if KPFA programmers (and former Morning Show staffers) Philip Maldari, Mitch Jeserich, and Brian Edwards-Tiekert hadn’t stepped in to fundraise during those hours (click on the charts to enlarge them).
Your pledges helped make up ground! The fund drive had been on track to finish $150,000 short – but KPFA staff organized to raise money for KPFA on their own time – in union halls, community meetings and here atKPFAWorker.org. You answered the call, and collectively raised collectively raised over $13,000 in matching funds for the final push of the fund drive, while sending a strong signal of support for KPFA’s embattled workers.
At a local station board meeting during the final week of fundraising, KPFA’s interim general manager Andrew Phillips launched into a rambling, contradictory and at times profanity-laced attack on KPFA’s staff, its union, and other critics of Pacifica, who he called a “fifth column” (a reference to fascist infiltrators during the Spanish Civil War). He also quipped, ominously: “You can run a radio station with no paid staff if you have to.” AUDIO CLIP of Phillips (16 min) | ENTIRE 4.5 HR BOARD MEETING: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
Then, after KPFA’s Spring Fund Drive wrapped up, Phillips took to KPFA’s airwaves at 8 AM on both Thursday and Friday to again berate the station’s staff and their listener allies, and lash out against this website in particular.
Phillips attacked reporting both here and from the KPFA News Department on $15,000 in gifts to Pacifica station WBAI from a Goldman Sachs partner (AUDIO LINKS HERE), and Phillips’ own statements opening the possibility of future underwriting at KPFA. The main problem: Phillips’ clarifications tend to re-affirm the original reports. To wit: “I didn’t say that I supported corporate underwriting. I did say that I supported exploring corporate underwriting” (emphasis added; about about 8:30 AM on his Thursday on-air appearance, cited above).
Listener Avilee Goodwin echoed many others when she wrote to KPFA’s board: “Was Mr. Phillips misquoted? (no) Was the tape edited to twist the meaning? (I don’t think so) Or did he simply want the chance to edit his own words into a more palatable form, once he figured out how upsetting they were to KPFA listeners, before allowing us to hear them?”
“The most important part of that news story for me as a KPFA listener was hearing, in his own words and voice, that our current station manager believes that business ‘sponsorships’ should be ‘in the mix,’” wrote Goodwin. “For the news staff not to report on this original statement would have been giving station management control over what we, the listeners, are allowed to hear. For a listener-sponsored station, that is simply unacceptable. That the news staff should be so publicly chastised for reporting facts to the listeners is disturbing.”
Where did this guy come from?
That’s a question we’ve been getting asked a lot. For instance, listener Nancy Arvold writes: “I’ve been a KPFA listener and donor since 1960, and am fearful about what is happening to my anchor for intelligent news and analysis. I don’t even know who to go to to complain about Andrew what’s-his-name, the new station manager.”
“He obviously knows nothing about either the listeners nor the Bay Area’s needs for KPFA coverage,” Arvold writes. “He is condescending, insulting to listeners, and tells lies and skews this conflict. Since he ‘owns’ the airwaves, he can say anything he wants. I woke up to listen to Mary Berg’s lovely Sunday music, anticipating the usual 9AM morning show, only to hear Andrew introduce Robert Bly is such pablum-y terms I turned of the radio. I might as well be listening to NPR. He and the national board, for whom he is obviously a front man, must be stopped.”
Here’s what we know about Phillips. He was working as a permaculture gardener in New York before being appointed “interim” KPFA general manager by Pacifica’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt. She hired him without input from KPFA’s local board, staff, or community – in fact, she hired him before she even admitted publicly that KPFA’s last manager had quit.
Phillips’ experience includes serving as Pacifica station WBAI’s program director for 4 years in the early 90s, then later serving as a distributor for Gary Null, a nutritional supplement entrepreneur who denies that HIV is the cause of AIDS. Phillips had proposed putting Null on the air at KPFA this spring, but dropped the idea after listeners, staff, and HIV/AIDS activists strenuously protested.
Phillips and Carrie Core announced other sweeping changes to KPFA’s programming right before the May fund drive; they dropped those changes in the face of listener opposition, but still refuse to restore the Morning Show.
Results from a recent online survey by community group SaveKPFA showed 91% of respondents supported restoring the Morning Show. Among the many sensible public comments at the last local board meeting, KPFA News co-director Aileen Alfandary urged management to engage in “evidence-based decision-making.” | AUDIO CLIP of Alfandary (4 min)