KPFA GM YEAR-END REPORT 2018
I’m pleased to report that KPFA had a successful 2018.
Just a year ago our anxiety was high because of Pacifica’s critical financial situation combined with the Empire State Building lien breathing down our necks and the PNB’s lack of a strategic plan to create a healthy prognosis for the network’s future. Well, we still don’t have a strategic plan but with a new Interim Executive Director and NETA’s CFO hopefully, action to move the network in a positive direction will commence in 2019.
KPFA managed to hit our budgetary target numbers through our pledge drives, car donations and an uptick in sustainers and memberships. We also had a successful development year in income from numerous family foundations whose missions or goals lined up with ours.
Last year at this time I announced our Public Engagement Team, which was a melding of our subscription, programming, web development and major donor outreach units. It created new roles, responsibilities, and goals for management to help accelerate our growth.
That shift in our management team’s job responsibilities was necessary to take advantage of certain virtues and expertise members of team possessed. This allowed us to better focus on marketing, social media activity, grow membership, reorganize fund drive responsibilities and improve outreach to major and new donors.
My small team has grandiose ambitions and they work very hard on a very lean budget. Yet this shift helped provide more room for creativity and in slowing down the burnout rate that comes with these types of difficult jobs. I’m proud to say that it’s been successful in creating the results below and it’s the best team I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with in my four years.
What the Future Holds
To be honest I’m worried about two things. The first is something I have no control over it and that is the country’s economic outlook. If a recession does happen, obviously it will have a detrimental effect on our fundraising abilities. It might mean smaller goals and maybe some cutbacks.
Part two of that scenario deals with the evolution of our pledge drives. Books, CDs, DVDs, and documentaries have been the lifeblood of our premiums for years. Yet with technology moving rapidly ahead the demand for CDs and DVS has dwindled, plus the rights to documentaries are getting impossible to obtain because the Netflix and the Hulus of the world are controlling all the content they can gather. And as you know Amazon beats all price points on books.
In order to battle these trends, we are moving away from these items toward content that we create ourselves, similar to our speaker events and videos. Other ideas include monetizing access to our YouTube channel featuring the KPFA Concert Series of musical performances recorded in our studio also readings, dramas and selected material from our archives.
But the most important innovation will be in our membership levels. It’s imperative that we update our membership levels to help sustain or bottom line but more importantly so our listeners get a distinct idea what their membership offers them. A vital part of the plan is to guarantee donors at certain level certain benefits, which range from free passes to events, complete access to our archives or invites to KPFA specials. The brainstorming continues.
Development and Subscriptions Updates:
Holiday Drive Wrap-up
- Although donations are still coming in through the end of the year, we are on track to reach our goal of $450,000 by the end of 2018. So far, we have reached about $410,000 with many more donations by check to record. Our on-air fundraiser took place from Tuesday the 4th through Friday the 14th and we reached that goal of $350,000 by the Tuesday the 18th of the following week. $385 through website and $253 paid as of 12/21/2018.
- We didn’t have any major operational changes during this drive as we did in the Fall. However, with the help of Brian David, there are more improvements for our fund drives and donating process in the near future. We have already made incredible strides with what has been done already, however, this is a very complicated renovation process that was sorely overdue and will continue to take time to fix. Picture a large ball of yarn with many threads and pulling each thread out to untangle the mess – that is the process of updates, renovating and improving our Subscriptions and Development department.
- Volunteers during fund drives continue to be thin. I would estimate a core crowd of about 7-10 people come daily or every other day and another 5-10 come once a week. Volunteers are badly needed during the hours of 10am through 5pm. We tend to have plenty from 6am-9am & 5pm-7pm. However, some mornings have been very slow as well. I encourage all board members (especially those who aren’t raising money for KPFA independently) to come into the phone room and participate in the fundraiser by answering calls from donors.
Foundation & Grant Work
- This is an area that continues to show promise and is worthwhile to dedicate time and attention. The following is a list of grants that were submitted for or I spoke directly to a foundation officer.
Highfield Foundation – Grant Received – $2k for additional recording equipment for performance space to enhance the use of the space
Cabin Road Foundation – Grant Received – $90k for the next 5 years. $50k in support of hiring specialized Investigative Reporter (Lucy Kang who wrote the proposal) dedicated to creating story-driven content for Upfront and the Six O’clock news hours. Plus $40k in support of the implementation of an internship program in the Operations Dept.
Edna Wardlaw Charitable Trust – Grant Received – 20k for general operating expenses.
There are additional foundation and grant opportunities that we’re tracking and will be applying to in the following months.
KPFA 70th Anniversary
- KPFA’s 70th anniversary is April 15th. We are moving our Spring Drive up from May to April in order to take advantage of the excitement around this historic event.
- We will be having an on-air fundraiser with KPFA-centric programming premiums and a benefit which will take place on Monday, April 15th where we hope that many of our major donors and supporters will come together for a celebration of KPFA and commit their continued support of the station. Details are still being worked out.
2019 Engineering and Operations Updates:
After a review of listener and staff feedback as well as extensive testing of technical equipment Operations and Engineering are excited to unveil the 2019 master plan.
- We’ve undertaken a joint effort with programming to standardize the Program grid and implement technical improvements that bring automation, dependability, and accountability.
- We’ll be purchasing new Digital Mixing Boards and related equipment to upgrade On-Air, Production, News, and KPFB Control Rooms and studios. This allows the station to accommodate present and future needs of high quality resilient audio.
- We’ll be re-engineering the signal flow to incorporate shielded and balanced wiring, automatic fail over mechanisms, redundant high speed fiber internet, redundant web streams, redundant digital Studio-Transmitter links, new lower cost digital phone service, and up-to-date Technical Documentation.
- We’re adding a part time Engineer to help meet the technical needs as well as provide added support to aging equipment.
- Every computer will have a 1-to-1 connection with the Master Control core network as well as WiFi backup, no more unsightly wiring.
- The 2018 upgrade of staff computers is complete.
We’re pairing our technical plan with a department restructuring to bring 40 hours of audio pre & post production to Programming with no added cost to the budget. This move shifts Board Operators into the new role of Technical Producer.
- We’ll reduce dead time, dead air, and stress by shifting crisis response time to pre-planning time.
- Everyone of our 103 shows now have a Technical Producer to ensure the highest quality content for our airwaves.
- We’ve automated the delivery of pre-recorded material to our airwaves.
- We’re rebuilding our relationship with music, overnight, and volunteer programs as they now have a point of contact through which communication will flow.
This re-organization and technical improvement should be completed by the end of Q1 2019.
Programming Update 2018/19
Path To 70: KPFA will curate special birthday programming, showcasing some of its very best radio productions over the years. KPFA will make exclusive available recordings of other special program on our YouTube Channel.
Recent Additions to The Program Grid
- East Bay Yesterday: A delightful new series from explores of culture, politics and nature from Oakland, Berkeley and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Produced by Liam O’Donoghue and airs every other Wednesday @ 1 PM
- Best of KPFA: A collection of some of KPFA’s best moments over the years. This short run series was inspired by our “Independence Day” programming which featured an array of programs, from Gore Vidal to Jimi Hendrix. The Best of series will morph into a new project called “Path to 70” , where we’ll offer more of our KPFA gems as we head toward our 70th birthday.
- Let’s Talk Music: D-Minor and Thomas J are two young men who talk Music, highlighting artists who have made a contribution to Hip Hop, R & B, and old school music. Their banter is illustrious and the gems discovered along the way are unforgettable. Let’s Talk Music airs each Sunday at 8 pm.
- Ooh They Mad (OTM): OTM is anchored by three Bay Area natives: Chris Riggins, a professional comedian; Paris Warr aka Computr Blu, a sex educator and cultural worker; and DJ Sake One, a professional DJ. The show incorporates analysis of current events and trends, both local and national, using humor and popular culture to deepen and broaden appeal
- Motown on Monday (MOM): was born out of a love of Soul Music – plain and simple! MOM is arguably one of the largest weekly dance parties in the world – now it is on KPFA-FM. Hosted by DJ Gordo Cabeza. Premieres Sunday, November 4th at 10 pm.
- Countdown 2018 ( A short run series): The importance of the Midterm elections called KPFA to focus on the implications of local, state and national issues and candidates and races. Our own Larry Bensky hosts every Friday at 12 pm. As a result of the success of “Countdown 2018”, KPFA has kept Bensky on to develop a new program called Ideas & Ideals that each Friday at Noon. It covers the gamut of politics and culture, art and music.
- Making Contact: has moved to alternating Sunday with the KPFA Evening News (Sundays) at 6 pm. Upcoming programs are slated for November 11th and November 18th.
- Your Call (Media Round-up): airs every Friday at 3 PM. It offers distinct analysis and insight on the politics of the day via dialogue and debate.
New Podcasts to Area 941
- California In Flux: is a terrific new podcast on Area 941 that discusses the implications of Climate Change across California. You can find the first episode “Climate Silence” at our podcast site Area 941 on the KPFA Website (org)
- The Fertile Void: is a very interesting creative endeavor featuring producer Carrie Katz. It’s a muli-level journey into the soul of being. Fertile Void premieres Friday, November 2nd and can be found on Area 941 on the KPFA website (org)
- Well-Paid Slaves: This is a new and exciting podcast that deals directly with the implication of the modern Black Athlete working within the hypocrisy of big-business machinations and politics.
- The Town: is an uncompromising look into the guts and daily machinations of Oakland Politcs. Hosted by Kitty Kelly Epstein. The Town premieres on Friday, November 2nd and can be found as part of our podcast home, Area 941 @ KPFA’s Website. (org)
- She The People Summit: KPFA-FM aired the inaugural “She The People” Summit in San Francisco, the first-ever natioal summit of Women-of-Color in poltics from 36 states. It featured Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Linda Sarsour, Dolores Huerta, Alicia Garza among others.
- Election Day 2018: Our Election Day coverage day coverage, Tuesday, November 6th began at 3 pm-Midnight. Flashpoints (w/Greg Palast) kicked off our coverage discussing the electoral impact on communities of color. Democracy Now follows with extensive National coverage from 4 pm until 9 pm. The KPFA News and Public Affairs team took over at 9 pm with coverage of local, regional and state races and key propositions.
- Beatles A Through Z & Through The Years
- KPFA Music Series – Online Our newly minted KPFA Music Series with visits from artists like Dub Esquire, Life’s Blood Ensemble and Patel Danceworks. We’ll be posting performances to the KPFA Website and YouTube.
- 100 Letters From My Father
100 Letters is a radio documentary about correspondences between a Father and his children in the era of radical politics during the 1960s and 1970s. It was produced by Nina Serrano and ran Sunday, November 25th at 9 PM.
- Bauersfeld Playhouse: KPFA will rekindle the spirit of Eric Bauersfeld, the longtime director of KFPA’s Drama and Literature department. He brought high-quality radio productions to KPFA-FM and ushered in three decades of outstanding plays dramas, readings and talent to generations of listeners. We intend to do the same with our inaugural Bauersfeld Playhouse – collaboration with KPFA and small, local theater companies throughout the Bay Area.
Last but not least!
If you haven’t heard KPFA was honored by The Nation magazine as the Most Valuable Local Radio station. Here’s what the posted in their magazine and online.
“Berkeley’s KPFA, the first community-supported radio station in the United States will turn 70 in 2019—and it remains a multicultural treasure that produces some of the finest arts and music programming in the country. At the same time, KPFA has become an essential source for news programming in California and nationally (thanks to podcasts, the Internet, and collaborations with Pacifica stations). The station’s morning news show, Upfront, is a sharp and smart digest of local, national and international news that provides a perfect lead in to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!”