Pacifica membership, 30June2016 – c. 30June2019

Last week some striking membership data were made public by Pacifica. The National Elections Supervisor Renee Penaloza published her latest report, &, reading it in conjunction with her final report of the nominal 2018 pseudo-election, one has a time series of station membership at 30June2016, 19Nov2018, & the-PacificaWorld-present, which corresponds roughly to RealWorld’s 30June2019 (more on that anon).

And being PacificaWorld, some of what she calls her progress reports are undated & some are unnumbered. This one is undated, but the URL includes “08.28.19”. It’s also unnumbered, but it’s the 7th. It’s thin, two pages. It came after a very long gap: six had been published in seven weeks, the last on c. 13June, then we had to wait c. 76 days for this one. Very odd, not least because two fundamental sets of facts should have been established, & made public: the list of the over 100 verified candidates, & the size of the 10 elector rolls (listeners & staff for the five stations). Only the former has been published.

What is most distinctive, & worrying, about this report is that it doesn’t give the record date membership figures, the jargon for the day when a snapshot is taken of the enfranchised. Yes, NES Penaloza spoke of “# electors” (unpaginated page 1), but added, “note that this number will fluctuate over the course of the election due to membership additions or deletions”. Yes, there will always be challenges to the elector rolls, but why has the NES not made public the record date elector roll totals? Are the rolls so chaotic – again – that the NES was unable to take the snapshot at 30June? One has no rational alternative but to assume this is the case, given (1) the unexpected words chosen by the NES, (2) her inability to give a progress report for 11 very long weeks, & (3) the absence, even now, of the 10 totals of the elector rolls at the record date, 30June.

Conclusions:

  • the membership lists & volunteer records were so chaotic, unreliable, that the NES was unable to extract elector rolls at the record date, Su30June;
  • this is prima facie evidence that the NES has been unable to make the elector rolls materially accurate;
  • the NES is doing what’s done in PacificaWorld, she’s muddling through – and trying to cover herself by being careful with her language;
  • given this, it behoves any diligent director, or candidate, to see the unadjusted record date elector rolls, & publish those 10 aggregate figures – data that members & listeners have a right to know;
  • if indeed the NES was unable to extract elector rolls at 30June, then she needs to explain publicly, in writing, why this was so;
  • given the lack of any public evidence in the last 10 months (!) showing an improvement upon the Oct2018 judgment of the then NES, Graeme Drew, that materially accurate elector rolls don’t exist, the only rational conclusion is that the 2019 election, just like the nominal 2018 one, is a pseudo-election; &
  • if evidence to the contrary exists, then there is every good reason for NES Penaloza to publish it – otherwise Pacifica elections, regrettably, continue to lack credibility. But concerning this, do any Pacifica ‘leaders’ care?

Putting these current travails to one side, what was Pacifica’s membership, say, at the beginning of the century? Remember when the Iraqis were invaded? (It’s almost misanthropic to use the impersonal abstraction, Iraq.) A few months after this, in Sep2003, Pacifica was getting ready for its own major event:

About 90,000 of Pacifica’s listeners and 700 of its volunteers and staffers are eligible to vote in the first election under the bylaws, estimates Carol Spooner, secretary of the network’s interim national board. Elections are scheduled to end by Jan. 30.

Mike Janssen, ‘Radio that’s representative: Listeners control vote for Pacifica boards’, https://current.org/2003/9/radio-thats-representative/

Since then, membership has fallen 48.8%, so effectively halving, to 46 463 (45 520 listener-members & 943 staff-members – note that the latter has increased).

A few years prior to those Local Station Board elections, WBAI had “nearly 20,000 members before a bitter year-long fight over control in 2001” (https://www.thevillager.com/2016/02/null-sues-wbai-endgame-near-for-iconic-radio-station/). And today? It’s fallen by 58%, to 8 379.

Here are the more recent figures for Pacifica’s five stations, as provided for the last three LSB elections.

The numbers: listener-members; staff-members; all members

1. Quantitative data: listener-members

This is the headline put in yesterday’s Facebook post:

over the last three years to 30June2019, West Coast stations’ membership fell 9.5% (2 881) whilst the East Coast rose 13.8% (1 752); & over the last 7½ months to 30June2019, KPFA fell by 8.2%, so by 1-in-12 (1 285), KPFK fell by 8.1% (1 163), whilst WBAI grew by 20.2%, so by 1-in-5 (1 375)

(the 2019 figures are assumed as at 30June, the intended record date; please note the correction of the West Coast fall: I had mistakenly used the Texas demise)

Should have added:

for Pacifica, a three-year fall of 6.8%, roughly 1-in-15 (48 836 − 45 520 = 3 316)

The raw figures at the record dates of the last three elections, 30June2016, 19Nov2018, 30June2019 (assumed), with some computation:

The stations:

KPFA: 15 815, 15 585, 14 300; KPFK: 14 569, 14 366, 13 203; KPFT: 5 736, 4 294, 3 549; WPFW: 5 089, not disclosed, 6 287; WBAI: 7 627, 6 806, 8 181

[there was no nominal 2018 WPFW-listener election because there were only five verified candidates for the nine seats – better than a Drumpf deal]

The changes, election-on-election, & for the three years:

KPFA: declines of 1.5%, then 8.2% (so 1-in-12 lost in 7½ months, 1 285), a three-year decline of 9.6%; KPFK: declines of 1.4%, then 8.1% (another 1-in-12 in 7½ months, 1 163), a three-year decline of 9.4%; KPFT: declines of 25.1%, then 17.3% (1-in-6 lost in 7½ months, 745), a three-year decline of 38.1%; WPFW: no election-on-election computation because the middle figure is missing, but a three-year rise of 23.5% (1 198); WBAI: a decline of 10.8%, then a rise of 20.2% (1-in-5 gained in 7½ months, 1 375), a three-year rise of 7.3%.

The three 7½-month falls, West Coast plus Texas, totalled 3 193 – an annualised loss of 5 108 members.

Regional comparison, the three-year change:

West Coast fell 9.5% (2 881), Texas fell 38.1% (2 187), East Coast rose 13.8% (1 752). [15815+14569=30384, 14300+13203=27503; 5089+7627=12716, 6287+8181=14468]

Pacifica total:

2016: 48 836 (15 815 + 14 569 + 5 736 + 5 089 + 7 627); 2018: at least 41 051 (15 585 + 14 366 + 4 294 + ? + 6 806); 2019: 45 520 (14 300 + 13 203 + 3 549 + 6 287 + 8 181)

Three-year fall of 6.8%, roughly 1-in-15; 48 836 – 45 520 = 3 316.

2. Quantitative data: staff-members

The raw figures at the record dates of the last three elections, 30June2016, 19Nov2018, 30June2019 (assumed), with some computation:

The stations:

KPFA: 272, 244, 233; KPFK: 305, 283, 264; KPFT: 173, 141, 140; WPFW: 130, 133, 108; WBAI: 194, 177, 198

Pacifica total:

2016: 1 074 (272+305+173+130+194); 2018: 978 (244+283+141+133+177); 2019: 943 (233+264+140+108+198)

Three-year fall of 12.2%.

3. Quantitative data: all members

The raw figures at the record dates of the last three elections, 30June2016, 19Nov2018, 30June2019 (assumed), with some computation:

The stations:

KPFA: 16 087, 15 829, 14 533; KPFK: 14 874, 14 649, 13 467; KPFT: 5 909, 4 435, 3 689; WPFW: 5 219, not computable, 6 395; WBAI: 7 821, 6 983, 8 379

[15815+272, 15585+244, 14300+233; 14569+305, 14366+283, 13203+264; 5736+173, 4294+141, 3549+140; 5089+130, not computable, 6287+108; 7627+194, 6806+177, 8181+198]

The changes, election-on-election, & for the three years: not computed because they’re less meaningful than those for listener-members only. The main reason is that our focus is on examining Pacifica’s contraction, & of much more interest isn’t committed listener-members floating in & out of the stations, acquiring staff status, but the mass, those more inclined to stop funding the whole shebang. In any case, with staff being c. 2% of all members, the all-members’ decline values would be very much the same, just a tad higher because the staff rate of decline is roughly twice as fast.

Pacifica total:

2016: 49 910 (16 087 + 14 874 + 5 909 + 5 219 + 7 821); 2019: 46 463 (14 533 + 13 467 + 3 689 + 6 395 + 8 379)

Three-year fall of 6.9%, roughly 1-in-15; 49 910 – 46 463 = 3 447.

The station-split:

2016: KPFA 32.4%, KPFK 29.8%, KPFT 11.7%, WPFW10.4%, WBAI 15.6%

2019: KPFA 31.4%, KPFK 29.0%, KPFT 7.8%, WPFW 13.8%, WBAI 18.0% (agrees with the 31-29-8-14-18 apportioning of the FJC interest charge, recommended by the PNB Finance Cttee to the PNB, Tu10Sep – formula calculated by the PNB Finance Cttee Chair, Chris Cory)

One thought on “Pacifica membership, 30June2016 – c. 30June2019

  1. robertgartner 5 September, 2019 / 00:54

    I found discrepancies in the membership list!!
    1) I was SENT A STAFF election ballot in the first weeks they were mailed out but I WAS THROWN OUT AND BANNED FROM THE KPFT STATION back in DECEMBER 2018!!!! Management was THE SAME all that time!!
    2) I happen to know that one member was not notified of her memberhsip status term when a renewal for membership was recently sent. And she was not notified an election was taking place by anyone!
    3) If it concerns anyone here: management has not run one notice of there being an ELECTION on the air waves not have they put any NOTICE on The KPFT Website. No candidate forums are taking place. No recording of our “one minute videos” are available anywhere at KPFT!

    Rene has blamed Management at KPFT for all of this.

    Like

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