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Contact Ruth H. Strauss
Listener Candidate for the KPFK Local Station Board
Hi, I’m a 37-year listener-supporter of KPFK; growing up in Alabama, amongst the poverty and segregation, I was politicized truly by age 5 and became a lifelong activist and civil rights advocate. I still remember the moment I learned of Pacifica; in 1984 I was visiting a boyfriend in San Jose, my coming from Boston; he lent me his car while he was working; I turned on the radio and OMG! It was an epiphany! I heard this station (KPFA) doing fantastic programming that aligned perfectly with my interests and politics. I was astounded. (Boston had no Pacifica station, NPR was regrettably “centrist”, not yet becoming a R of center inaccurate shill.) I was in my Medical Residency and had little time for radio anyway. A year later, when I moved to Los Angeles to do my Cardiology Fellowship, KPFK became my Godsend and refuge. I continued listening and financially supporting. Fast forward, Covid arrived, my hospital was full of Covid patients, and astoundingly , I have reached the ”sophistication” level considered to be higher risk, so I switched to telemedicine, scaled back, and had more time to do things I wanted . One of my first motivators was becoming alarmed at the pseudo-medicine being peddled during fund drives (pine resin for memory—really?? Isn’t turpentine made from that, an organic solvent; or the fly in amber?? ) One other dangerous medical “offering” , where I realized KPFK could potentially be in legal jeopardy, and I knew I had to go join a CAB mtg. Then, with now perpetual fund drives which ONLY cropped up in the past couple of years, I decided to listen to Finance Committee mtgs, an eye opener —after listening several months, I decided I wanted to join THAT. Then, some programs I liked (which were popular and good fund raisers) were in jeopardy, so I joined the Programming Committee. Next , I learned about constraints on NON-LSB members wanting to join committees, that seemed somewhat unfair, so I joined the Governance Committee! FINALLY, the LSB elections came along and I thought, well why not give it a try.
So, my goals are
1) With members, help figure out a strategy for, or at least be a foot soldier in, the fight to financially preserve KPFK
2) Make sure that we do everything on OUR part to be in compliance to get CPB ( and other potential) funding
3) Brainstorm about the best “rules” for our local committees
4) Not have a throw-out-the-baby-with-the bathwater approach to programming—revise equitably and sensibly
5) Do my part in assuring we get back to the “old days” fund drives– with premiums that are educational and political, cheaper to produce/purchase send, and foregoing snake oil. Premiums also need to fit a spectrum of budgets and types-they are predominantly high end now.
Thanks for reading and for your consideration.
Answers to Candidate Questionnaire
1. What experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the local station board to advance the station's mission?
  Outside of proctoring of pseudo science -or even dangerous medical premiums, I can be a resource both for Committee members who have general medical questions regarding programming or who want me to research something, as well as programmers who have any questions. Although obviously trained in traditional medicine, I am happy to, and DO, support alternative medicine that is safe and effective.
I have done a lot of public speaking (both delivering scientific research at national meetings, participation on speakers bureaus for various organizations, etc. If needed to do any community outreach forums or public speaking on behalf of the station, I can certainly help with that.
I have also had the good fortune of education in composition and a lot of practice writing letters of protest or correction, so can assist with any need in that area (though NOT in typing, as I completely lack talent or training in that area! )
2. What do you appreciate and value in the station's current operations?
  The huge number of political programs covering a WIDE range of issues, history, and world events, with excellent programmers, both paid and volunteer..
3. What would you like to see improved or changed in the station's current operations?
  Everyone knows and comments on the excessive and incessant fund drives that have come to be over the past several years, and yet the station remains in severe debt
-I believe that some of our funds have possibly not been spent wisely , and worse, there probably was some cronyism and there exist large gaps in our knowledge of where money has gone with inadequate accounting for the outflow; there needs to be more transparency of where funds are going and not reliance on more remote companies (eg NETA which has wide ranging responsibilities and whose figures SEEM to sometimes be either incomplete or not specific enough or our station, or at least as reported out to the committee). Further, companies that have been recently hired to do more local accounting have still not provided either adequate numbers and/or there has been inadequate presentation of those numbers. There also has to possibly be “loosening” of regulations about what the Finance Committee is privy to—it is impossible to run the station and oversee the financial situation of the station without adequate information due to “restrictions”
On what is available for review. Further, appropriate committees should be allowed, with consensus, to have greater input into hiring, firing, admonishing and regulating
The station form a LOCAL standpoint , with possible National oversight and consultation, but NOT with strict TOP down authority of the National Board.

We need revision of the website so that it is more organized and user friendly, and which identifies committee structure, members of the LSB and at least the chairs of Committees with possibly contact information. At present, the site seems to have a plethora of information but not be particularly organized other than some of the headings at the top of the page.

We need return of the Community Calendar, both posted on the website as well as the announcements on air that used to occur at least twice daily at prespecified times. We have members who can “cross pollinate” with entities like “Change-Links”, LA Weekly, etc. Additionally, as others have brought up, having at least SOME local news coverage would be helpful to listeners.

4. Describe what you anticipate would be your top three priorities or areas of focus if you were elected to the local station board.
  1. We need to get usable, comprehensive, TIMELY financial data in an organized form without the constant delaying and dysfunction that has been present over the past year that I have been observing and participating on the Finance Committee; we should NOT have people quit in frustration over not getting information that is needed for effective oversight and operation.
2. We need to obtain objective evaluation of programming based on listenership and funding generation, however that can be accomplished; we need to NOT rearrange what IS working and popular, but look at programs that do NOT have good listenership and use THOSE slots for recruitment of new programming, if this is a goal. To me, it is unconscionable that we all filled out a 40 minute survey at the beginning of the year, and the results are nowhere to be found and it appears no one has attempted to locate what could guide us at least until another poll of listeners can be done—those surveys would have a treasure trove of information, at least to get us started on what we need to do to improve listenership and donations.
3) Again, I would want to assist in and do some of the footwork for complying with any requirements of non-profit funders so we can obtain outside, non- commercial, funding. For non-profits. We have a resource person/(s) who are knowledgeable about to whom to reach out or how to research more sources, and we need to put that goal into practice as one of our tops, to keep the station solvent.

5. Sustainability is an important part of any nonprofit operation. What are your thoughts on how the board can help to improve the station's financial footing?
  5) It appears to me, and I am relatively new to committee work, but have seen months of totally inadequate financial reporting when in fact we have knowledgeable people on the Finance Committee, several, who understand what inadequate reports we have been getting, with “fuzzy math” and numbers that make no sense or have been presented in a way that obfuscates important information; and yet it seems it has been allowed to persist for some reason—either lack of the Finance Committee’s having the ability to enforce certain standards, or to be able to enforce a reprimand to bring about change, or having a national person understand the problem and empower the Committee, in concert with the General Manager, to rectify the situation, has led to an inability to navigate financial matters. There must be a mechanism to enforce better financial reporting on a local level, or replacement of personnel who continually report late, report not at all, or report in obscure ways where the committee cannot understand what has been happening to the funds generated. This has been going on for at least the year that I have been observing the Committee and even let to a chair’s resignation in frustration. It is totally untenable and yet has existed unabated for or There does seem to be a lack of oversight enforcement, and that needs to be rectified either locally or at a national supervisory level. Instead of continuing to be frustrated by the lack of clarity in reporting, I believe an immediate discussion with a director on a national level ( with legal advice if needed) must take place.
Additionally, we (KPFK in LA) are in the unique position of residing in a community of actors and supporters of the arts, many of whom not only have wealth but also have politics which align with ours and thus outreach to them through people who are already established supporters (e.g. Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Ed Asner, etc) to see if they have other actors or groups which could donate, seems an avenue to pursue.. A designated volunteer liaison would be a great asset. Finally finding out what organizations (artistic, journalistic, political) do provide grants to entities like KPFK is essential and then we need to pro-actively determine any requirements and then focus on a structured plan to meet those requirements This liaison member could also reach out to radio stations on college campuses to find out what programs appeal most to younger audiences, and even invite them to do some programming on KPFK, to get younger people involved in listening to the station, which then would foster the kind of loyalty that many of us who have been with the station for decades feel.
Finally, any way we can get at metrics to see what programs have the greatest listenership is essential; in the quest for diversity, we MUST have in place a way to evaluate programs such that we do NOT discard, or move to less accessible hours, programs that have proven valuable to the station over many years. With the proper background information, the Programming Committee, with input from interested parties, can then formulate a grid and prospectively continually evaluate the success of that and modify as needed.

6. Is there anything else you would like prospective voters to know?
  No matter whether I am elected to sit on the board or not, I encourage EVERYONE who has time and who cares about the station, to please join committees so that there is an infusion of new and different ideas, AND, if you do NOT have the time to devote to an ongoing committee and attend regular meetings (which are only 1/month), then AT LEAST LISTEN in to committee meetings which interest you or for which you have a strong opinion or idea about some aspect, and SPEAK UP—listen in to LSB meetings (they are on non-workdays) and SPEAK UP during the public comment times – this is YOUR station and the more ideas we give to the people who are our Committee members and Governance structure, the more the station will gear itself toward listener supporters, grow our community, and guarantee our perpetuity.
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