Dear Members of KPFT,
For most of the past 20 years, I’ve served on the KPFT Local Station Board. I’ve been elected chair twice. I’ve served as vice chair, secretary, committee chair, committee member and more. I got involved in Pacifica for the same reasons Lew Hill established it: to promote peace and social justice, to air music and other forms of culture one can’t find anywhere else.
Over the course of time, I’ve worked with four General Managers, three in the position of interim GM. When things began in 2001, with new bylaws and a new board structure, KPFT had a membership of about 10,000. Today, that number is in the 4,000 to 5,000 range.
There’s not much a board member can do. One can make programming and marketing suggestions. One can help write the budget. One can vote to terminate the GM and recommend a pool of replacements to the Executive Director. After 17 years and the huge drop in membership, after making suggestions and being rebuffed multiple times by management, I voted to remove our GM and he was removed. I must also state that in the beginning, I was probably the GMs strongest supporter.
The most significant thing I suggested was advanced programming: “Tell your friends to tune in when Democracy Now rebroadcasts later today. Guests include X.” When the program aired twice a day, I suggested that the board operator write copy while the first edition was running and be read by programmers throughout the day. My suggestion was ignored.
I also suggested working with high school students who were members of the HISD Student Congress and to take good care of them since their program could draw the community and other students, family, and friends. The program aired but when I suggested to the GM that he go about a half-mile away to a meeting they were having, to give these students a pep talk, to tell them how much he appreciated what they were doing, he told me he was too busy with activities related to the regular building maintenance committee.
Speaking of committees, another important suggestion I made was to announce, on the air, LSB committee meetings, to build committee participation. That rarely happened. Many people who could have gotten a sense of ownership with this “community radio station,” didn’t.
When new management was in place, our Pacifica bylaws were violated. A locally based interim Executive Director fired an interim GM. The violation was not consulting with the Local Station Board. This occurred about 18 months ago. Since then, there have been two more interim GMs. Both were selected in violation of the bylaws, without LSB input.
Pacifica, as a foundation, is facing a multi-million-dollar debt and the loan needs to be paid soon. Board service is a challenge.
This has been a frustrating experience but hope springs eternal. I know the bylaws and play by the rules. I hope I’ve earned your trust and your vote.