The first part of my report will answer the request of the CAB for information on what
KPFA’s programming plans for the future. How do we intend to incorporate the necessity
of more local news, public affairs, arts and continue to diversify our community
involvement? Under our Strategic Programming Plan we lay out a new direction for
KPFA that not only addresses local issues yet offers us a key opportunity join the new
media playing field.
KPFA’s new website has a lot of potential to use new tools to continue to push our online
presence, to continue to perfect different parts of the site, and to continue to increase the
online presence of KPFA to newer and different user groups. Now is the time to iterate on
this great first step and continue to take KPFA along the path that we have started.
KPFA Strategic Programming Plan:
Radio listening isn’t about appointment listening anymore.
Podcasts, downloadable audio programming that is being consumed on-demand by
listeners is growing at a remarkable speed. The convenience of listening to podcasts
anytime and almost anywhere is drawing in a bigger audience and pushing more public
radio broadcasters to launch such initiatives—and that’s a key part of our strategic
programming plan at KPFA.
Radio listening habits have been altered by on-demand services on the Internet and on
mobile devices. It was once a programmer’s job to move listeners from one-quarter hour
to the next, now with all the technological advances; it is incumbent upon us to encourage
our audience to listen to their favorite show(s) at whatever time that suits them, along
with asking them to please post it on their to social media pages to encourage their
friends to listen. It’s a new day.
Let’s be real. Changing the static programming at KPFA is a rare and nearly impossible
to do. The Union contract is designed to protect longevity for it’s members and our
volunteer programmers actually live out there lives in their time slots. Not much room to
inject our broadcast with needed unique, compelling, locally produced content.
Expanding our programming into the digital environment with more on-demand and
time-shifted content gives us the opportunity and space to offer new voices from the
community with a range of podcasters from novices (because it so affordable) to
extending our popular content in exclusive formats.
Podcasting has quickly developed a reputation in public radio for being very effective
means to reach an audience. 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
KPFA’s struggle in trying to reach more diverse audiences, particularly African-
American, Latino, and Asian American listeners. It’s a fact that Podcasts, generally, are
growing among the more digitally savvy audiences, which also happens to be where
young California is more diverse.
This march of technology isn’t driving listeners from radio to Podcasting; these digital
programs are a parallel universe in which to grow KPFA’s content and reach. Edison
Research’s “Share the Ear” study from 2014 provides a good look at the steady growth of
Podcasting and the amount of time listeners give to the medium. Podcast listeners spend
an average of six hours each day consuming programming of some kind. Americans
listens to over 21 million hours of Podcasts every day!
KPFA’s restructured and retooled website is our first step in the right direction to connect
us to new listeners, especially the elusive and essential 25-45 year old progressive
thinking folks. During the launch of our website we discovered that surprisingly, most of
our listeners listen to archived shows mostly through services like I-Tunes or Tune-In
What’s going on?
KPFA’s audience is still white and older yet if we are to make gains among more diverse
listeners, particularly younger listeners we must provide new digital content. We must
create a Podcast network to entice this new audience into the rest of our programming.
This is also the way for KPFA to bring in new and diverse voices to create and produce
shows. The talent is out there—from our internships, Apprenticeship program grads to
college students and others from our local cultural and political landscape that we are
unable to put on our regular broadcast schedule, we can soon offer a new channel of
What’s the advantage?
Podcasts are cheaper and more flexible to create than typical broadcast shows, lowering
the barrier of entry into public radio for content creators, which in turn allows for more
Podcasting plays to our strength. Most of our audience visits our archives daily to hear
their favorite programs at a time when it works best for them. Terrestrial listening is
down everywhere but what’s exciting is that we can break new ground with Podcasting.
It’s the new way of to reach the millennial generation—our future audience. To survive as
a vital player in the Bay Area media landscape, KPFA must play where they live, online.
With a small shift in budget priorities we would get a high return on our investment and
get more local people involved in our new programming initiatives.
Podcasts in Progress:
Comedy Bite with Kamau Bell
The Police Beat: covering police terror on a local and national level
SF Politics: weekly update from Tim Redman (formerly of the Guardian)
Young Arabs—New Voices from the Middle East Diaspora
The Housing Crisis—a program with an eye on gentrification and its effects
Art Waves—an interview show featuring local artists in different mediums
Live Streaming: Say hello to Periscope.
This is a game-changer for how news is reported. From a protester capturing the action as
it happens in Oakland, to live streaming the moment Union members break a police line
at Google headquarters. Anyone can instantly broadcast breaking news and can do it
with a smart phone straight to our website platform. At no cost.
Periscope is a video-streaming platform owned by Twitter and has only been running for
several months. In that time it has gained over two million users and will soon be jostling
for airtime alongside your much loved Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat
What does it do?
Periscope is a “live video-streaming platform”, which basically means you can transmit
a live recording of an event to your Persicope and Twitter followers. Imagine Skyping
someone, but instead of video calling a single person, you’re instead linked up to the
whole community. Not only that, whoever’s watching you can comment and ask
questions. These show up on your screen whilst broadcasting making it easy to answer
and interact. Again, all you need is a mobile phone.
Periscope is designed as a mobile app, so people use it frequently and off-the-cuff when
they are out and about. Also, because Periscope is owned by Twitter, it automatically
links up with our Twitter account. This means when we do a live transmission it appears
on our Twitter newsfeed making it easier to build up followers from the word go.
It’s New Journalism
From reporter or a pedestrian filming a protest in Sacramento to Hilary Clinton streamed
on a presidential campaign rally in San Jose, to insightful local breaking news. The one
common link though is that it is interactive, as viewers comment and the broadcaster
replies back, making it a two-way conversation. New journalism.
So how do I know listeners know when to tune in?
Regular followers of our twitter account will be notified anytime we’re doing a live
transmission. Also they can re-watch any video for 24 hours after the live broadcast. Also
listeners can click through to the ‘World Map’ tab that shows you where all the live
broadcasts are taking place around the globe. And of course we have our airwaves and
website to promote any and all live streaming events.
On the Radio: A Change is Gonna Come.
The PNB has passed a resolution that says all Pacifica radio stations must add an
additional 5 hours of Spanish language programming between the hours of 6am-9pm
Monday through Friday. The deadline set for these changes is August 2015.
Unfortunately, the board did not include a formula for management on what or how to
identify shows for removal to make room for the new shows. Plus management must
assume that under this strict resolution timetable, if hiring a Spanish language
programmer is necessary, the hiring freeze may be lifted under these circumstances on an
individual station basis. Needless to say, even though these selections will be as
considerate and painless as possible, like any changes to the programming schedule it
will cause a disruption and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. That said change
is gonna come.
Summer Fund Drive: Cancelled
We’ve been trying to figure out a way to drop one of our pledge drives for a while now.
We asked our listeners to be patient and generous in order for us to deliver on that
promise—well because of a perfect storm of circumstances, we’re dropping our Summer
Fund drive planned for later this month.
We all know the summer drive is the hardest to reach our goal with overall listenership
down, vacations schedules, and volunteers are harder to get. This will provide us with
time to improve our technical set up in the phone room and discover new premiums. Yet
more importantly it’s vital that we do everything in our power to honor our promise to
decrease the number of on-air fund drives.
That said we’re still going to do a bit off-air fund raising this summer. I will send out our
annual summer pitch letter to our donor base and we will be calling donors who haven’t
yet paid their pledge. We will be hyping our car donation website page. For those of you
who don’t know, car donations can bring in between a thousand to five thousand dollars
depending on the car. And last but not least we will do a soft online donation campaign
with carts and live reads.
This will hopefully take some pressure off the listeners and you, and help get everybody
fired up for our major push for the September fall drive.
One More Time: A Capital Campaign
Included again is my pitch for a Capital Campaign. We need to pass a resolution for
immediate and long-term needs of the radio station. It’s critical that we have a discussion
about how to move forward on creating a 3-year plan to attack these vital issues before
they overwhelm us. It’s also important to note that this campaign has to be separate from
our traditional on-air drives that pay the station’s expenses.
KPFA needs essential work on its building foundation. The elevator, our studio and studio
equipment needs to take the leap from analog to digital. The facility needs to be adapted
to our growing needs.
Please refer to last month’s GM report for complete details on all the facility and studio
needs and costs. But the bottom line is either we attempt to fix our serious facility
issues or think about moving. Total cost for a modernized radio station = $1.685
KPFA, General Manager