KPFK’s new station manager, Miquel Calçada, deserves a public statement from ED Lydia Brazon on what’s expected of him – in FY2022, what loss will be acceptable? will it be OK if audience simply doesn’t fall? will it be OK if membership only falls 5%? … or doesn’t it matter what happens? Public comment at Su19Sep2021 KPFK LSB

The last time KPFK achieved an annual net income was FY2011 ($119 800); the previous one was FY2005 ($135 665). So only one since 30Sep2005, just one in the last 15 financial years – but at least that’s one more than WBAI, the fave whipping-boi.

For the 15yrs, the gross cumulative loss is ~$2.851m (an average of ~$204k per deficit year), & the net cumulative loss is ~$2.732m. In the Pacifica discourse it is never mentioned that KPFK has this financial performance – nor, to recognise how truly bad this is, that it’s been achieved without, as mitigation (& partial explanation), a cost inflicted upon it comparable to WBAI’s transmission tower lease. That’s the onerous Empire State Realty Trust near-15yr contract thrust upon the station in June2005 by PNB Chair Ambrose Lane, Sr (WPFW staff-delegate), signed, without any public discussion or explanation, a mere 12 days after stepping into the job of emergency Executive Director after Dan Coughlin resigned. Remarkably, the severity of the contractual terms, & the need for Pacifica to plan given the cost escalator, weren’t broached at all in the Pacifica public audio recordings of the time, or indeed even 5yrs later (sic).

(By contrast, in the earlier KPFK period, FY1994-2005, so an overlap of one financial year, a period totalling 12yrs, there were only three annual net losses; & of the nine net incomes, five were <$100k, but the others were ~$340k (FY1996), ~$136k (FY1999), ~$457k (FY2003), & ~$136k (FY2005). Note that it hasn’t always been disclosed by either the relevant auditor or Pacifica how the five restatements of Pacifica’s annual financial statements have affected the record of the individual accounting units – please see note #1 at https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/auditor-s-reports/auditor-s-reports-from-fy2005/.)

Into this history has now stepped Miquel Calçada, who on W15Sep started work as the third KPFK station manager this calendar year.

At this local station board meeting, I hadn’t intended to comment, just listen to the stream. But it wasn’t coming on, even after 30mins, & although Pacifica meetings usually start late, this was unusual. So I went onto Zoom & found the meeting was underway. In the chat I reported the lack of stream, but TechGuy was adamant it was fine. Nevertheless, the water failed to reach me, even at the end of the meeting, so I guess it was down to the pipe I was using from the link given by https://kpftx.org/ (water also didn’t come out of the page’s audio button).

Below are the two comments made, slightly augmented. In the first, point #3 had been written-up but in the rush was inadvertently left out. In the second, & importantly, the ultimate responsibility of the directors is invoked: their own dereliction in not stopping ED Lydia Brazon being derelict.

~

1st comment

Re the fund-drive Tu20July-M30Aug, six whole weeks, striking facts can be inferred from the data given to the W15Sep KPFK Finance Cttee by Business Manager Barry Brooks. He said the $600k drive “raised a total of $235 725 […] with 1 592 pledges [made]”. (Regrettably, he didn’t give the number of donors.)

So, (1), a pledge corresponds to an average of ~$148 raised – note, the average donation (& the donor distribution) wasn’t disclosed.

(2), using the membership station datum of 11 729 at 7Apr2021 from the National Elections Supervisor, assuming all pledgers are KPFK members & the membership was unchanged, pledgers amounted to only 13.6% of the members, or 1-in-7⅓, 3-in-22 – so more than 86% of members didn’t pledge. Big donors may be contacted, but so can all the members.

And (3), given that 3 666 KPFK members voted M7June-W7July in the by-laws referenda, & there were only 1 592 pledgers during the fund-drive that started only 2wks later, the number of pledgers amounted to only 43.4% of voters – so almost 57% of voters were motivated enough to cast their ballot but not to pledge. In absolute numbers, 1 592 pledgers compares with ~2 779 voters supporting the New Day amendments, & only ~852 voting against the change.

So given point 3, it would be naive to believe that the New Day attempt to break up the Pacifica network hasn’t undermined the attempt to raise money for KPFK. And no Pacifican is naive.

~

2nd comment

KPFK has had a financial crisis since Apr2020, so almost 1½yrs. Miquel Calçada is the third KPFK station manager this calendar year. Yet no-one has said publicly that a document, called a plan, exists. Any plan. What we have had is firefighting, rather than exercising foresight to turn a vision into concrete steps. This is obviously unacceptable – and evidence of Executive Director Lydia Brazon being derelict.

The only intent shown in the public record is the 11June2020 PNB decision: “that significant expense cuts be made at KPFK as soon as possible. These cuts should be at least 30%” – so not even giving a deadline.

Likewise, the directors, those of 2020 & the current year, have also proved themselves derelict in allowing this: as carers of the public charity’s assets they have a legally regulated duty to act as trustees, the much heralded fiduciary responsibility. The chief operating officer is the primary instrument of any board of directors – and Pacifica Foundation, Inc. is no exception. Unfortunately, & disastrously, the dog is allowing itself to be wagged by the tail.

Being fair to Miquel, ED Brazon needs to publicly declare, in writing, what constraints she has placed upon him, not least the scope of his decision-making, & disclosing what she expects him to achieve. What instructions has she given him? The members, the staff, the listeners, current & future vendors – all deserve to know. We need to know what we can rationally expect from him. It is also one way to make his own job a little easier.

Transparency tempers expectations, makes responsibilities less ambiguous, & facilitates accountability.

~~~

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