KPFA General Manager Report May 2021

GM Quarterly Report May 15, 2021 

by 

Quincy McCoy 

First, I’d like to take a moment to remember Barbara Whipperman,  who recently passed at the age of 85. Barbara was a former KPFA  LSB member, Treasurer, sustaining member and long-time listener. May she rest in peace. 

State of the Station: A gradual return to normal 

At KPFA our top priority is to keep our employees and their  families healthy. We will continue to abide by the existing CDC  and OSHA workplace protocols for covid safety, until they are  revised. To establish a level of comfort for all of our staff,  we will take the proper steps to phase in a return to the  station when the time presents itself. We hope to reopen KPFA in  the near future and will endeavor to keep all of our employees  safe to the fullest extent possible.  

We understand that every employee’s situation is different and  encourage those with specific risks or concerns to reach out to  their manager or to HR and discuss alternate arrangements,  should they be necessary. In our recent negotiations with the  Union—CWA we have come to an agreement that allows workers who  wish to continue working remotely to do so, depending on their  job responsibilities.  

Also, the station’s Health and Safety Committee shall meet with  Management to review policies, also as a part of our recent  negotiations with the union. The committee will be composed of  an equal number of staff and managers. They will meet as needed 

to review appropriate policies, supplies, and communication to  prevent the spread of infectious diseases as employees return to  their on-site work assignments.  

Our return-to-work timeline is dependent on the evolving nature  of the pandemic, thus creating an exact timeline for resuming  “normal” operations is not feasible. As stated KPFA will  continue to monitor applicable national, state and local  guidance to determine the next stages of reopening. Currently,  the station remains open only to essential workers during this  phase with mask mandates, disinfecting protocols, and  visitors/guests are still not allowed. In conjunction with the  safety protocols, we will continue to use our automation systems  for uploading programming, especially for late and overnight  broadcasts. 

Area 941: Storytelling for Social Change  

KPFA.ORG’s podcast network of channels is called AREA 941.  Cleverly named after our radio dial position, this space-in development allows us to expand our progressive content, with  on-demand programs allowing listeners to listen or download them  at the time of their choice. Area 941 affords KPFA the  opportunity to offer new voices from our staff and community and  extend our popular content in this ubiquitous format.  Essentially, it’s a new leading-edge body for work. 

Area 941 Podcasts debuted in 2015 in an effort to push the scope  of KPFA’s mission beyond the radio dial. Our purpose is to use  this new medium to provide an opportunity for content producers  to reach diverse audiences, especially people of color. A recent  public radio study unveiled that nearly 33 percent of its  podcast audience is comprised of people of color. This is 

significant in light of radio’s present struggle trying to reach  a younger and diverse audience.  

KPFA developed Area 941 as a way to reach listeners that are  drawn to an on-demand lifestyle as their source of information  and cultural entertainment.  

With on-demand, programmers can promote daily through social  media their latest episodes and their archive of programs. With  terrestrial listening falling quickly out of favor, it’s a smart  move to invest in our podcast network. Podcasting is a vital  tactic in extending our reach with growing communities of  progressive listeners and our future as a media institution.  Podcasts are cheaper and more flexible to create than typical  broadcast shows, lowering the barrier of entry for content  creators, which in turn allows for more diverse voices. In the  near future, voices of the LBGQT community and new shows  focusing on local culture will be represented. 

For KPFA’s mission to stretch and transform, to be a part of  this larger movement we must build out Area 941 with an  astonishing schedule of channels that can truly create a  meaningful and powerful impact in our cultural, social and  political landscape. 

Our greatest impediment will be to overcome forces of rigidity  to change. For some, it’s easier to remain stuck in the old  forms of communication. It takes a bit of courage to embrace new  thinking to forge ahead into the new playing fields of the  future.

KPFA Programming Department: Laura Prives 

SPRING FUND DRIVE: Curation is the cure! 

We are employing the tools of podcasting along with our website to create a new series of digital thank you gifts for our donors  in this pledge drive. Cost-efficient, curated digital premiums is a big part of our fund drive strategy. With digital audio or  video premiums, donors receive thank you gifts delivered  immediately.  

Our digital delivery system has been crucial for us during the  pandemic. It’s given us a larger toolbox to draw from in  offering our listeners incentives to donate with instant  payback. We are really excited about the possibilities of  curating our own content and the huge stores of audio from the  Pacifica Radio Archives. 

This drive everyone who pledges any amount will receive Telling  the Story an audio collection with Angela Davis titled A  Lifetime of Revolution recorded at USC in 2015. Ms. Davis recounts the story of her life in activism. Telling the Story also includes a two-part interview with Al Young, former poet  laureate of California and longtime friend of KPFA who just  passed in April at the age of 81. This enlightening interview  was conducted by KPFA’s Jack Foley in 2002. 

I encourage you to go online to view our digital collections for  this drive at KPFA’s donate page. Check out the digital Malcolm  X and Alan Watts Collections, the Letters & Politics US History 

Collection and Philosophy and the Good Life from Against the  Grain. 

The 3 PM Hour: Afternoon Drive 

At January’s 2020 LSB meeting, I explained why programming made  changes to our grid at 3 PM to bring in a “news-responsive” daily program, Rising Up with Sonali, with its news headlines to  compete vigorously in that timeslot against the PBS News Hour and All Things Considered. Well, it was the right move proven by our increased online stats and fund drive revenue in that hour  plus the increase of listeners into Hard Knock Radio and  Flashpoints. 

Sonali informed us in late March that she would be reformatting Rising Up from a daily to a weekly broadcast. In considering  our options we took the opportunity to accomplish two goals at 3  PM. We believe that our replacement programming for Rising Up,  Monday-Thursday accomplishes them. 

We’re delighted to add Scott Baba as the anchor of The KPFA News  at 3 PM Monday-Thursday. He has been a reporter and producer at  KPFA since 2013. He’s a graduate of our News training program.  Scott provides KPFA with a strong Asian American on-air  presence, something we’ve been trying to accomplish for some  time. On Fridays, the new weekly version of Rising Up will air.  Hopefully, that will placate the many listeners we’ve had to  inform of Sonali’s decision to broadcast only one day a week. 

The rest of the hour will contain UpFront PM an edited version  of the successful two-hour morning show. We’ve been waiting for  an opportunity to repeat our most popular show to help elevate 

our afternoon stats. We realize that most of KPFA’s afternoon drive listeners have never heard UpFront before and now have the  chance to discover it. And discover it they have. Pledges are up  40% in just the first week of this drive. Also Letters and  Politics with Mitch Jeserich is being aired in an encore  presentation at 5 AM. It’s the first time in years that the 5AM  hour has generated substantial funds. 

KPFA’s news responsive programming, with information, analysis,  and resources on the pandemic or our ongoing coverage of the  Asian-American hate crimes, the Israelis/Palestinian violence,  social and environmental justice issues, just to name a few; is what listeners expect and respect us for. So, with our curated 3  PM headline news and UpFront PM kicking off afternoon drive it’s  a strong strategic maneuver that gets the most out of our  reporting resources, our budget and establishes a time slot for  training future anchors. 

News Dept Update: 

News responsive reporting is a skill that requires learning by  doing. Developing hands-on media skills is a big part of what  KPFA has to offer the community. We’re revising KPFA’s training  programs and looking for new channels for recruiting more people  of color into the process. We’re developing a relationship with  the journalism department at Laney College to build a pipeline  of students that could participate in training and reporting for  KPFA. 

While there is a trend toward a declining trust in journalism,  KPFA remains steady in its integrity. This is our strength.  Training reporters in practicing due diligence and having them 

be from the community and work with the community is key.  Engagement journalism is a new buzzword. It’s a concept that  KPFA has already been practicing in various forms for decades. Engagement journalism is an inclusive practice that prioritizes  the information needs and wants of the community it serves. 

Operations Department Report: Antonio Ortiz 

The Operations Department has begun reassessing our Internship  Training Program on how to meet the needs of the interns and the  station. We value the volunteer time that interns give in  exchange for hands-on training and experience, yet we also  understand that a large majority who are interested in pursuing  a career in media can’t make the commitment to an unpaid  internship. Kevin H our new Development Director is looking for  grants that can be used for internship stipends and our hope is  that this will provide people with some paid work after they  have completed their 6 months volunteer time with Operations. 

As we move forward the Operations Department Training Program  will evolve into two separate courses. 

  1. Our hope is to restart the 6-month Internship Program in  January 2022, which is designed to train individuals for radio  production. Interns will learn multi-track digital audio  editing, engineering studio recordings, website and social media  content posting, and producing live radio programs. The goal is  to build a pool of producers who can potentially work with KPFA  music and public affairs shows.
  2. Operations will have a 2-month intensive training program to  build our pool of Board Operators, Studio Engineers, Technical  Producers and News Techs. This program is specifically designed  to lead to paid fill-in work for all trainees and it will be  limited to 2-3 individuals per year. Our goal is for Operations  Interns, Graduate Apprentices, News and Programming Department  Interns to help build a pool of fill-in technical producers and  board operators. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training. 

Beginning in October of 2020 through April 2021 Management  completed training in “Managing Conflict for Inclusive and  Equitable Leadership Teams.” Twelve classes taught by Nancy  Kahn, co-host of Talk it Out Radio on KPFA. Nancy has over 20  years of experience as a facilitator in Nonviolent  Communication, as well as racial equity, inclusion, and  diversity consulting and coaching. 

This class guided the management team through an examination of  conceptual leadership, communication, and conflict resolution  frameworks. Also, team building activities and conversations on  managing conflict from equitable, inclusive, and values-based  organizational practices. 

In order to continue our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and  Belonging work, we’ve hired Ahmad Anderson, 20-year HR veteran  and owner of Designing Effective Organizations, to build and  implement DEIB throughout all levels of our organization. Ahmad will be sending out a Diversity and Inclusion Survey in June to 

staff to gather information to tailor and create a DEIB seminar  that is germane for KPFA staff and management. He’ll evaluate  and identify what changes our organization needs to make. KPFA  will implement custom solutions and resources to help us embed  Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging values. 

ONE MORE THING 

The Operations Department has worked with Engineering and  Programming Departments to ensure a smooth transition from  KPFA’s old analog boards to the new digital boards and equipment  that have been installed in all studios. We continue to provide  support and training to all essential staff in the building and  those working offsite. 

KPFA Engineering Report: Brian David 

The installation of the Control Room and studio furniture  has been successfully replaced and training on the digital board  commenced. In coordination with the Operations we were able to  train our daytime technical producer staff and a number of  evening and weekend music DJ’s. The feedback we have received  from our staff and volunteers on the operation and functionality  of the digital boards has been overwhelmingly positive. There  were some concerns regarding some of the CD Player  functionality, but we have since made adjustments to mitigate  complexity. 

The new functionality allows technical producers to operate and  manage simultaneous hosts and guests both in and out of the  studio along with phone and web callers with ease.

The reduced complexity has allowed for a shorter learning curve  and enthusiastic adoption. 

All of this effort has allowed KPFA to run three successful  fundraisers, that from a technical perspective, would not have  previously been possible. 

These updates also allow the Engineering Department to fully  operate, manage and service the facility remotely. Great effort  has been made to log, alert, and triage failure with the  interconnected systems. This improves the overall quality of  service and allows for better on-air sound quality.

We operate a translator on 97.5FM in Santa Cruz. Our broadcast  facility is on the UC Santa Cruz campus. We are in the final  stages of securing a formal arrangement with UCSC. We have since 

replaced the transmitter and broadcast receiver with new  equipment from BW Broadcast and Inovonics (pictured below) 

We’re also expanding our broadcast reach in Monterey via 94.3  FM. We expect to begin construction on our new translator  sometime in July. 

Finalizing Control Room and Studio Upgrades: 

As Q2 approaches we look forward to polishing the work we have  done. 

The Control Rooms are in need of new flooring to complete the  look and feel. We have product samples and are exploring our  options. 

In Feb 2021 we were given a digital music console from Freight  and Salvage. We are working to sell our old equipment to fund  the new equipment and 

furniture. 

New remote broadcast options: 

The coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on the  operations of KPFA. It has necessitated us to innovate to  respect social distancing and quarantine conditions. We have  built portable touchscreen devices that send real-time high quality audio over the internet allowing broadcasters to connect  directly to our studios with no monthly cost and a total  equipment cost of ~$200. This will allow broadcasters to work  from home indefinitely as well as give instant one button access  to audio between hosts and our control rooms, just like a phone 

extension. We look forward to testing in Q2 2021. 

Development Department Report 

DRIVE PLEDGED / PERCENT of  GoalGOAL PAID / PERCENT of  

Pledged

WINTER 2021 $479,211 / 106% $450,000 $400,174 / 83.5%
Grateful Dead Day $42,147 n/a n/a
B-Day 2021 $24,863 / 55% $45,000 $21,222 / 85%
B-Day Mailing $8,525 / 85% $10,000 $8,525 / 100%

 

Two highlights of our Winter Drive that are worth noting: KPFA  was forced to begin the drive for a full week without the  ability to accept donations over the phone – all donations had  to be placed through our website donation destination. Thanks to  our engineering staff as well as the considerate attention from  show hosts, KPFA didn’t skip a beat and maintained a strong and 

steady daily average that allowed us to not only meet our drive  goal, but to exceed it by 6%. Also impacted by the lack of phone  support, but also exceeding the previous year’s total donation  amount was our annual 16-hour Grateful Dead Marathon, hosted by  David Gans and Tim Lynch. Our investing in our website to  improve its performance and rigor paid off big time. Interest in  the Grateful Dead Marathon also extended into our general  promotions, social media and email campaigns; the dedicated  email blast that was sent out to 25,000 plus subscribers in  anticipation on the marathon enjoyed an open rate of more than  39%, greatly eclipsing our previous high-water mark of 28%. 

First Quarter 2021 was full of changes for the Development  Department – In January, previous Director, was replaced by  Kevin H and then in April, Donor Relations Director, Krystal  Martinez was replaced by Lucrecia Burton. The learning curve for  the Directorship position was considerable, Kevin has acquired the necessary skills for daily management, donor and financial  reporting within the Allegiance database system.  

He’s proficient in all basic operations within our StationAdmin  database system and is currently learning querying language to  better access financial and donor reporting there.  

Kevin and Lucrecia have performed well in fund drives and are  fully competent in managing all premiums, donations, website and  database management necessary for our pledge periods.  

Kevin pitches remotely and will continue to be an important,  familiar voice in our Spring Appeal by joining Amy Goodman and  appearing on several programs. In an effort to make our DD a 

friendly familiar voice to our donor base Kevin can be heard on  various station appeal promos. 

Kevin has spent hours in educational sessions via webcasts and  seminars such as The Salesforce Nonprofit Summit, Nonprofit  Library and The Joan Garry Leadership Lab. 

These sessions have provided crucial training and information  needed to utilize donor data more efficiently, create sustaining  donor campaigns, execute electronic mail, Donor Advised Funds and developments in stock & IRA rollovers.  

A direct benefit of these educational sessions has been the  introduction to “Double the Donation” – an API that  automatically assists with employer matching and “Freewill” – a  service that works with donors to streamline the inclusion of  charitable living trusts. Both of these programs are in the  process of being implemented and will provide immediate and  sustaining fiscal benefits for KPFA. 

Development and Engineering has worked to improve donation  avenues such as car donations, which has seen record-setting  donations in the first quarter. Future goals are for KPFA to  begin accepting electronic payments such as PayPal, Venmo and  ApplePay in a more streamlined manner. We’ve set up strategic  partnerships to assist us in updating KPFA’s stock donation and  bequests programs. 

Speaking of partnerships. This drive We’re offering The Magical  History Boat Tour with East Bay Yesterday host Liam O’Donoghue. It’s a journey through centuries of Bay Area history aboard the 

Pacific Pearl. The ship will cruise from the Emeryville Marina  out to the Berkeley Pier and Yerba Buena Island before heading  towards the Oakland estuary for visits to the Port, Jack London  Square and Alameda. Liam will be telling stories about literary  legends, booming shipyards, sea creatures, buried treasure, Wild  West showdowns, mysterious shipwrecks and more. Ticket donation  for the tour is $500 bucks. But the cruise is already sold out. 

New Membership Program: The main priority for Development in Q2  will be to refine and implement KPFA’s recurring giving program  by re-branding and marketing KPFA’s new ‘Anchor Donor’ program.  This membership promotion will offer a donor-portal on KPFA’s  

website for direct donor subscription and payment management as  well as perks such as advance invites to events, on-demand  access to past audio premiums and event recordings. Anchor  Donors will also have access to limited edition KPFA gear and  promotional items and will receive exclusive email and physical  mailings.  

Development also seeks to increase all off-air fundraising by  aggressively going after grants and project funding via family  foundations, stock options, and trusts.  

End of Report: 

Quincy McCoy

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