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.