Battle brewing over proposed staff cuts at KPFA

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More than 100 people joined a picket outside Pacifica’s KPFA-FM in Berkeley yesterday (Nov. 4), protesting staff cuts proposed by Pacifica Foundation Executive Director Arlene Englehardt to help close a reported $1.1 million budget shortfall. “We’re here because we understand there is a plan afoot to cut ¼ of the staff at the station,” Sasha Lilley, protest organizer and KPFA co-host, tells the local news website Berkeleyside. “These are difficult times economically but there are alternatives to cutting staff.” The station has lost more than $500,000 in listener support and other funding over three years, KPFA and Pacifica Foundation board member Tracy Rosenberg told the San Jose Mercury News. KPFA fundraising has brought in $2.5 million this year, far below what’s needed to meet is $3.6 million budget, Rosenberg said. In a post on Radio Survivor, Pacifica historian Matthew Lasar writes: “[B]asically Pacifica’s plan appears to be to pretty much let volunteers do the broadcasting.”

Update: Lilley is disputing financial details that Pacifica board member Tracy Rosenberg provided to the San Jose Mercury News. KPFA raised more than $3.5 million last fiscal year, “enough to cover its operating expenses (before paying dues to Pacifica),” she wrote in an email. KPFA also cut its personnel costs by 20 percent in fiscal 2010, but the savings have only begun to show up on its balance sheets, she wrote.

  • RADIO FIRST! should be the watchword here. Pacifica’s apparent intention to overrule the local station board and management by cutting air staff instead of other budget items would deal a great blow to KPFA’s identity and its ability to fund-raise in the future.

    See also CRISIS AT PACIFICA, by Iain A. Boal

    I am a KPFA music programmer and an incoming Local Station Board member.

  • listener from santa cruz

    You can watch the KPFA rally, including compelling statements from its staff, in this 7 minute video:

    You can also find out much more by visiting and

  • Ms. Rosenberg is attempting to force cuts of staff she does not like who happen to be some of the best fundraisers for the station. If this is not lunacy or a conscious effort to sabotage the station’s ability to survive with competent, paid personnel, as well as unpaid volunteers, I don’t know what is.

  • Leave it to Pacifica to make the wranglings inside the PBS and NPR community seem absolutely sane. I don’t understand how this service remains functional at all.

    For years now Pacifica has been a managerial and governance disaster. I’m beginning to think these behaviors are written into the mission statement.