General Manager Report by Quincy McCoy, Dec 18th, 2021
Welcome new board members! Thank you for deepening your investment in KPFA and your
commitment to shaping our future. You are joining KPFA at an exciting time, a turning point, as we strive to remain relevant and refine our brand as a social justice media intuition.
Successful radio is local radio. I’ve followed this mantra through 30 years of programming
experience. It means that radio that connects people to their communities is trusted and valued. Now more than ever KPFA remains unique in its role as a local communication service, one that is a lifeblood of local information and culture.
Yet, I know as a radio professional that radio listening has drastically diminished. Terrestrial radio isn’t growing. It’s a maintenance game. The days of appointment listening, when folks dial in at specific times to hear their favorite programs are fading fast. Our senior listeners stay tuned between 8-11 hours a day. It’s called companionship listening. That’s what keeps us afloat, and it is something we can also build on.
Today, radio is a second choice for listeners. A second choice—and we’re a free form of
entertainment. Subscription streaming services like Spotify and iHeart Media offers a wider variety of music, podcasts, audio books, and dare I say it—a coolness level. They are winning the battle for ears. The Number One listener preference is for On-Demand services where customers can pick and choose what programming they want to hear, when they’re ready to listen. We must become more responsive to this reality.
Today’s listeners are media savvy and expect more from radio than it’s delivering. Times have changed. Change challenges us to both unlearn and learn. Change presents an opportunity for KPFA to embrace new possibilities by thinking outside of the confines of what has always been. A radio station that values flexibility can remain vital and creative. The most difficult part of change is overcoming people’s natural resistance to switching things up.
Over the past year, we, KPFA management, have challenged ourselves to think out of the box and take action to achieve our “vision goals”—improving programming, raising revenues, and increasing membership. Fundamentally, we concluded that we don’t have enough staff to deploy the scale and the full scope of our vision, because we’re under Pacifica’s ever present hiring freeze. So, we have settled on adaptive reorganization—making small incremental adjustments, fine tuning our management structure—to effectively expand the targeted departments necessary for us to succeed.
The targeted departments are Programming, Development and AREA 941 our modest podcasting network. Back in the day our Programming and Development departments were wisely staffed with several directors handling various important divisions. Today we have one person in an untenable position of franticly juggling too many duties. That’s why our burnout rate in those departments is high. Plus, you can imagine how hard it is, to find qualified people willing to work for below major market wages to carry a heavy load of responsibilities.
Were excited about our re-org! We’ve been successful in expanding the departments without going outside our station ecosystem. We’re blessed with a crew of talented folks willing to extend their duties to aid the station. A colorful, easy to read re-org chart is attached to this report. Here are some of the highlights.
Yesterday’s fund drive marked the end of Interim PD Laura Prives’ second stint as Program
Director. Laura has served two terms as PD during my 8-year tenure. I will miss her daily counsel, historical knowledge, and instinctive management style. She however will not miss having 200 people reporting to her. Laura’s superpower is leading our fund drives and I’m thrilled to report that we were able to keep her on a part-time level as Fund Drive Manager. This position is part of the new Programming Department that is now broken up into three sections—Fund drive, Public Affairs Team, and the Music & Culture Team.