Thursday, April 16, 2009

Terry Goodman wrote to explain KPFK's problems with getting community INPUT...he is informative, straight and right on ! a sad story tho....

"On Mon, 23 Feb 2009, this blogger on "A KPFKer Here Now " wrote:

Please advise those responsible that the listings are NOT PUT ON WEBSITE to inform us when the next committee and board meetings are being held... see right now that there is NOTHING listed for March.

Meetings cannot be posted until they are scheduled, and a posting is not a valid meeting notice unless it includes date, time, and location. Last minute postings typically reflect last minute finalization of meeting locations. Although there are multiple advantages that accrue when a regular venue is selected for meetings, the counter-argument of broader community access for traveling LSB meetings has typically had sufficient support each year to derail attempts to establish a regular venue for KPFK LSB meetings. Ideally, in my opinion, the LSB and each LSB committee should adopt an annual calendar for its regular meetings, select a regular location for those meetings, and publish that schedule in advance. Instead, finalization of committee meeting dates frequently occurs month-to-month and finalization of LSB meeting locations frequently occurs less than two weeks before each meeting.

Tho February was checked at beginning of month, again, nothing was there and later it was already past and un attendable.

It is very rare that a KPFK governance-related meeting announcement is not posted on the KPFK Event Calendar at least seven days in advance. Members can receive email notification of these meetings by joining a Yahoo! group here. This is not an "official" list because there are problems with authority and liability whenever anything is official.

also the website lists a link to make PROGRAM COMMENTS, but those who use library comuters cannot access the link nor even find it's address when clicked because the library does not have it's own email programs set up.

Webmasters at KPFA and KPFT (and maybe others) have addressed this by providing email forms on their websites that can be used within a web browser. This has the advantage of not exposing LSB Member or other email addresses to harvesting for spam by web spidering software robots. I would encourage KPFK's webmaster to follow suit, without waiting for an LSB instruction.

Are you all deliberatelye excluding all who want to communicate or attend the governance and committees and board meetings ?

No, the situation simply reflects poor communication and coordination between KPFK's local governance and its local management and inadequate work by KPFK's volunteer governance. The LSB could accomplish better membership communication if it instructed management as to its needs and desires in this area, but various attempts to obtain LSB agreement on such instructions have generally been voted down. KPFK Management could take the initiative in establishing mechanisms and just advise the LSB what it has set up, but management too has typically given various immediate crises a higher priority than membership communications.

It sure seems so many ways


It was said that someone from the LSB would see the comments made if one wrote to "program comments" and it was cuddly called 'a corner' ....however, it does NOT go to Steve or whoever is suppose to receive a copy of these comments...

As I recall, the KPFK LSB Programming Oversight Committee, working with station management and/or the station's webmaster, arranged for committee members to regularly review those comments and was establishing protocols for forwarding, reply, and follow-up. This arguably goes beyond the role of the LSB in programming identified in the Pacifica Bylaws, but the general idea received LSB support.

again, how does one reach the LSB? or any members on it?

Sherna Gluck proposed a Listener LSB Comment line in a motion for the 2/05/05 LSB meeting, quoted here. Although the agenda item probably wasn't reached at that meeting, I believe that something along these lines was eventually approved -- but, there's a built-in problem with point-to-point communications like phone calls, because somebody must be authorized to receive or review the calls and somebody must presumably be authorized to respond. The LSB does not easily delegate any such authorities. Moreover, neither the LSB nor individual LSB Members have authority to assign tasks to station staff members, so there's going to be a problem in any attempt to insure that productive follow-up is accomplished unless there is also management involvement.

With respect to email communications, the KPFK LSB has not agreed on a policy. KPFK management has not pro-actively directed the KPFK webmaster to provide a website form to automatically send public comments to LSB members without their permission.

It is not clearly or easily found - by searching logically it was NOT found - so that again, are the LSB and other committees hiding behind lack of access from us sponsors?

Individual LSB members vary as to the level of public access they wish to allow via email, and some have only a single email address that they wish to remain private. It would be fairly simple for the station's mail administrator to provide a public email address for the LSB and for each LSB committee and to publish those addresses on the station's website. Individual members could then opt-out of inclusion on any such public mail forwarding list. For a short period, the LSB mail alias that the station maintains for official notices to LSB members was open to the public, but it was later closed to mail from unauthorized addresses, perhaps in response to individual LSB Member complaints.

Director Leslie Radford pushed for a policy on member communication in her first term as a Delegate, but no policy was finalized and adopted in that term.

Harrison Weil offered a simple resolution as a consent item in September, 2004. That's here, but I don't think anything came of it.

A comprehensive resolution that I drafted on this topic in June, 2005 can be found here. It was not adopted.

Separately, using mechanisms already established for paid and unpaid staff, the station has provided a webmail capability that would allow each LSB member to receive LSB-related email from members by logging into the website, but there have been login problems in testing, LSB members have not been trained in how to use the facility, and the assigned addresses have not been published.

Please respond or inform all those concerned about both these matters, that have been written about before with NO IMPROVEMENTS OR CHANGES to allow us in.

There is still no clear policy. One of the barriers to clear policy is the restriction on public and private communications among board members in the CPB Open Meeting provisions as interpreted by the California Attorney General. There is some indexing of that discussion here.

is this called transparency ? honesty ? representation ? free-speech locked out ?

There is no agreement on what the lack of a clear member communication policy is called, and this is only one of many areas still lacking clear policy. When governance spends much of its time arguing over issues around which there is board controversy, it has little time to find areas of agreement and to provide direction to or oversight of management.

the resulting ill-will, not good will engendered to KPFK, is one that breeds resentment, distrust, lack of funding desires, and an image of hypocrisy.Is this what is wanted and is this what the "visions" of the GM's at PNB said they would do ?

Local Station Boards are very limited in their ability to make or implement operational decisions, and General Managers have not generally provided much leadership in training local Delegates in how to be effective board members. In my opinion, the absence of understanding among members as to how much of the problem belongs to governance versus how much belongs to management in the context of the difficulty obtaining governance agreement or follow-through on anything argues for management devising and implementing solutions unilaterally in this area among others, subject to governance recommendations for policy amendment if problems subsequently arise.

Who is not doing oversight to all these LACK OF COMMUNICATIONS problems ?

Oversight is generally a governance function. There is still not much governance oversight within Pacifica.

or does the staff/station want to admit openly and State it On Air too that it is only a 1-way out station with no responsibility to it's sponsors/shareholders ?

Ideally, Pacifica's governance would provide mechanisms to identify and monitor each station's fulfillment of its responsibilities to members. Theoretically, it isn't management's job to arrange those mechanisms for governance absent governance instruction, due to the inherent conflict of interest. In Pacifica's case, absent adequate experience among governance members, more leadership from management is needed until a workable structure is established that can then be maintained with minimal revision.

Only when a provocative topic is put on by a programmer with listener calls incoming is there any response.


Some staffers respond to some email and voice mail messages sometimes, but this is probably rare. Voicemail to the KPFK Program Director has at times reached a quantity where it takes several hours a day just to listen to them. Without assistance to the PD, some voice messages may be deleted unheard. The KPFK news department gets a massive amount of email. When last reported upon, all email messages to that department were read, but few responded to. There's only so much time each day.

Many programmers are only at the station during their show's broadcast (if then), and these unpaid staff members will usually pick up their postal mail weekly or monthly, corresponding to their broadcast schedules. Volunteer programmers likely do a better job responding to listener input than paid staff, but there too the ability to respond diminishes as the volume of communication increases.

Lack of time to respond to listener inquiries and suggestions has been a chronic problem at most Pacifica stations due to overwork of staff and lack of clerical or administrative assistance to staff. With recent staffing cutbacks, this problem can only be expected to get worse. For a nonprofit community radio station to have the sort of public responsiveness and customer service that a normal business needs to survive, it must in my opinion employ the services of many volunteers. Pacifica stations in recent decades have not done a good job of recruiting, training, and trusting volunteers to handle the sensitive and frequently unrewarded function of public interface outside the limited role of answering phones in the pledge room during fund drives. KPFK programmers do sometimes bring in their own volunteers to answer the 818-985-5735 line during their broadcasts, even when no call-ins are intended for the broadcast. Sometimes that line will be answered by the programmer, if he or she is not on the air.

Is that a bunker to hide within from 'the public' you treasure and need to pay your salaries??

The paid staff has more work to do in keeping the station running and programming on the air than usually allows for daily communication with listeners. Station staff is often rushing about the building attempting to meet broadcast deadlines and/or doing work that requires their full focus and attention.

I don't think we'll see much improvement until the station brings on a crew of regular, daily volunteers who stay around long enough to learn what they need to know to do productive work, who are sufficiently discrete to be trusted with access to staff members' possibly private communications, and who are sufficiently responsible to communicate with members on the station's behalf. Capable assistants willing to work for free without the ego-gratification of airtime are difficult to recruit, and the broader culture encourages treating such support personnel as inferiors rather than as essential, which makes them very hard to keep unless the paid and senior staff is carefully trained in how to keep new and junior staff happy and respected.

--Terry Goodman,
KPFK Volunteer
former KPFK Staff Member
former KPFK Delegate

February 24, 2009 1:45 PM

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