Referring to KPFA as “the Northern California outlet of Pacifica Radio,” Arlene Engelhardt announced a new one-hour all-volunteer morning lineup to start airing on Monday. It would replace the KPFA Morning Show, whose union staff were laid off and removed from the air to the dismay of thousands of listeners who have contacted Pacifica in protest.
Pacifica appears to be using the program change to purge whistleblowers and hand out rewards to political supporters. The majority of the new hosts are affiliated with the “Independents for Community Radio” faction at KPFA. Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff of Project Censored also got a slot. The person serving as executive producer and host of the new program will be Anthony Fest–who served as chair of KPFA’s Local Station Board when it was under ICR control.
The new lineup also displaces unpaid contributors to the Morning Show, like veteran labor journalist David Bacon, weekly commentator Jennifer Stone, and film reviewer Reyna Cowan. Although Pacifica said the move was made out of financial necessity, the Morning Show raised three times what it cost to produce.
Workers are expressing concern that Pacifica has unilaterally imposed the new programming from on high, without consulting KPFA’s staff, local management, or elected Local Station Board. They fear that if Pacifica can purge and replace the top-grossing Morning Show, they can do the same to any program with union workers.
KPFA just completed an emergency fund drive in which listeners generously opened their wallets to keep the station going, many making clear they were pledging in protest of Pacifica management’s terminations of Morning Show staff.