Reprimanded by KPFA management!

Here is an email I received on Friday from KPFA’s interim program director:

David,

I have been clear that KPFA’s internal issues should not be discussed on air, especially during fund drive. Wednesday night at the beginning of Dead to the World you made comments that were unacceptable. (She included a link to the show in KPFA’s archive, good until August 17 only).

You are entitled to your opinions, however it is not fair to subject our listeners to one sided, personal rants.

As a result, I am writing you this memo to serve as a written reprimand, a copy of which will be placed in your permanent file.

If you continue to ignore this warning, further disciplinary action will be taken.

Sincerely,

Carrie D. Core
Interim Program Director

Here is a transcript of my opening remarks from the 8/3 broadcast of Dead to the World on KPFA (you can listen to an audio clip here):

Oh, that was my cue. I’m supposed to be ready by now. Hello, everybody! My name is David Gans. The program is called Dead to the World, and we are in a fund drive here at KPFA, which means I have to beg you for money. And you’ve probably heard it all before. We have been struggling here, like everybody is. I, like you, probably, I’m pretty disgusted with what’s going on in America. I watch the Rachel Maddow Show and I see the rich getting richer, the corporations getting greedier, and the Republicans getting meaner, and it just pisses me right the you-know-what off, and I don’t know what to do about it.

That makes me feel even more strongly than ever that KPFA is a vital voice against the tyranny of capital. It’s also a place where you can hear about things that you can’t hear anywhere else; you can hear music that you can’t hear anywhere else, and I’m pleading with you to make a contribution to KPFA. 510-848-5732 or 1-800-439-5732.

I want to thank my friend Alex Whitney, who called in about half an hour ago and made his pledge before I even got on the air, so I’m already ahead of the game, although that pledge was counted on Voices of the Middle East’s total. It’s not about that – it’s about supporting KPFA, and I really, really, really need your support for the station to that we can continue doing what we do.

There’s a major struggle going on here at the station, the same old political BS that’s been going on for years and years and years. But I’m directly involved in it now because I serve on both the Local Station Board and the Unpaid Staff Organization. I feel very, very strongly about certain things; one of them is that the interim General Manager here is not doing particularly wise things to keep the station healthy, and the Local Station Board and various other people are struggling to regain local control of the station and put radio first.

I personally think its completely insane to spend hours and hours of programming on September 11th revisiting that old wound and discussing conspiracy theories about 9/11. We should spend hours and hours and hours talking about how to get people back into jobs in this country, and get the stinking corporate scumbags out of control and retain – regain a little bit of control for human beings. Maybe we should spend eight hours on the air taking about how corporate personhood is a terrible, terrible, and lethal thing to have happening in this country.

Anyway, I’m going to play some music for you now because this is a music program. I’m a little discombobulated because I was on the road. I went to the northeast and spent some time on Martha’s Vineyard, in Maine, and at the Gathering of the Vibes in Connecticut, came home for two days, and then my wife and I got on a plane for Alaska for a couple of days. I played a couple of shows up there, spent some time on the Cook Inlet and in Homer, Alaska, met some wonderful people, had an absolutely glorious time, came back on Monday night. My baggage didn’t come back until Tuesday night – that’s a whole nother story. I am somewhat sleep-deprived, and somewhat unhappy with the political situation in this country, but as I said, let’s play some music. And please give a call to KPFA, 510-848-5732 or 1-800-439-5732.

We have some premiums for you – I need to go in and get the list of them. We have the new [Grateful Dead CD set] Road Trips volume 4 number 4, which is a complete show from 1982, plus some bonus tracks from the same venue: Philadelphia, April 6 and April 5, 1982. We also have – well, I’ll tell you about the premiums afterwards; let me get some music rolling for you right now. I hope you’ll enjoy the music, and I hope you’ll make a pledge to KPFA because we’re in fund drive time, and my mission is to persuade you to donate.

This is another salvo in an ongoing battle for the soul of KPFA and Pacifica. I don’t believe my show is in any real danger of being taken off the air, but this faction has done more damaging things to KPFA in the past so you can never be sure.

I serve on the KPFA Local Station Board and on the Unpaid Staff Organization Council, so I am on the front lines of this struggle.

Please visit savekpfa.org and find out what you can do to help. Right now we are organizing to remove Tracy Rosenberg from the KPFA LSB and thereby remove her from the Pacifica board as well. Much more needs to be done to rescue the network from these people, but this is an important step. Read all about it here.

If you contributed to KPFA during the Grateful Dead marathon or at any other time during the past year, you are eligible to sign the recall petition, which is posted here: http://www.SaveKPFA.org/recall/petition.pdf (If you have any trouble with the link, copy and paste it directly into your web browser, or contact us at votesavekpfa@gmail.com.)

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16 Responses to “Reprimanded by KPFA management!”

  1. Hi David,

    I just listened to you’re utterly reasonable show-opening remarks you put up on Facebook. I was wondering what the fuss was going to be when I was actually (really) shocked by your Interim Program Manager’s note to you.

    I would like to respond in any way you think helpful, since in my view your remarks were correct in a factually-based foundation, and that in any event what counts on air these days as “an on-air personal rant” is a ranch- sized concept in the way his, um, remarks roll out then it is just a mean sounding phrase with close to no content. And it is just wrong that such a remark be used in a way even theoretically adverse to your job or your career.

    One more thing before I ask you exactly what you would like me to do, and I will do it. I know enough about stress and it’s provocations in the workplace – and sometimes especially in the meaningful workplace – that I won’t hazard much of a guess about this Interim in terms of whether he’s a good guy, or a bad guy, or a skilled or lousy manager. I say that in support of what I said above. Even if the guy is an asshole all the time, I’m guessing, perhaps wrongly, that if someone had calmed him down and had a strong word with him before he decided he’d explode into some damaging friendly fire, it should be the case that on a calmer — or even perhaps a later — day, he would recognize how impaired his whole cognitive apparatus is as it’s displayed in the letter to you. Instead, it should’ve been easy for you to see that you were essentially, and at the right time, enthusiastically endorsing the idea underlying KPFA’s mission, vision, and values, in a worl dwhere information is everywhere. And in spite of that fact so many people seem to know so little, and it is largely due to the problems, whatever their cause, of responsible, vetted journalism weakening to the point where there there’s a current documentary in theatres suggesting the NY Times itself might conceivably disappear in not all that long, just as the Washington Post has evinced a continuing decline for a while.

    Your on-air summary of WHY KPFA matters today, was also apt in timing. You didn’t report this as a news story during a news segment: you appropriately voiced concerns, essentially creating common cause with the stations core listeners, and were appropriately persuasive in tone at that point because that is how money is raised when you’re selling intangibles today.

    I really cannot tell you how offended I am by the wildly pathologically unaware acts and words of a manager that has a personal duty to those he manages and to the station’s mission, of which he is part of management.

    Please let me know what I can do.

    Fond regards,
    -Irl

  2. Addie Corn says:

    David, I don’t see ANYTHING wrong with what you said!

    I don’t understand what they are telling you?

    Don’t have an opinion?
    Well, that’s just not acceptable!

    You voiced your opinion, for just a few minutes, and that was it!

    I think they should get over themselves and heed your words!

    9/11 is an important subject but the things going on in this country
    RIGHT NOW take a front seat to 9/11.

    I’m sure I’m not the only person that feels this way.

    Keep speaking your mind!

    Fu6kem if they can’t take the truth!!

    Love & Peace…
    Addie

  3. david says:

    Thanks for that, Irl. What I’d like you to do is:

    1 – Contribute to KPFA. This is like the Tea Party thing: if the station’s income declines further, then more staff will be liad off and more damage will result. We need the station to be financially viable while we fight to regain control of it.

    2 – Sign the petition (linked in my post) to remove Tracy Rosenberg from the Local Station Board.

    3 – Spread the word and encourage others to do (1) and (2).

    Thank you!

  4. […] music programmer David Gans, who hosts Dead to the World, got this letter of warning from Core for brief on-air comments last week that were critical of management. Core previously […]

  5. Greg Miller says:

    Dear David,

    Greg from Pleasant Hill here….yes, THAT one….

    I was online to try donating this way,and read this utterly disgusting rebuke regarding your opening comments on last nights show.
    As an avid supporter of this show almost from the beginning in the mid ’80″s, I found this
    ludicrous montage of nonsense an insult to everything I’ve come to know and EXPECT from
    KPFA programming and it’s people .

    INTERIM program director Core, took it upon herself to decide what I, as a loyal listener and contributor, should think about your comments . IE: she says it’s not fair to SUBJECT your listeners to personal comments etc…

    On the contrary, as a valued and intelligent member of the my favorite
    station I want to hear what you have to say on this critical subject.

    And I further agree with the points brought up about the rehash of 9/11 (bet she’s friends with Rudy”9/11″ Giuliani;

    the total waste of money dealing with a lawsuit;

    the idiocy of upsetting the well liked Morning Show( the listening public be damned);

    “Corporate scumbags”: Dave , you can’t be more right on with this one.

    And the general feeling you have that this is a tea bag party move to SILENCE or waylay
    an important and critical radio station, which I dare say could be one of the most important stations on the planet

    You did not in any way subject me to anything more than a dialogue about what is happening and for that I thank you and stand behind you every step of the way.

    STOP THE TEABAGGER TACTICS NOW !!!

    David I will be donating a larger amount in your honor Wednesday night !!!

    TAKE THAT EXTREMIST RIGHT WINGERS…..YOU HAVE NO POWER HERE !!!

  6. Jane Purcell says:

    David:
    No need for me to reiterate what’s already been said in the previous comments. I just wanted to make sure you’re also pursuing whatever internal contractual process might be in place for having the reprimand withdrawn.
    Peace,
    Jane

  7. david says:

    I am not too concerned about the reprimand itself. The perpetrator of this minor outrage will not be at KPFA for long if we are successful in our drive to regain control of the station.

    To that end, have you signed the recall petition yet? You will find a link in the original post above. And please continue to contribute to KPFA! If income continues to decline, they will have more excuses to lay off professional staff.

  8. Jane Purcell says:

    Hey David:

    I know the actual reprimand letter is beside the point.  But as a recovering labor lawyer and unrepentant worrier,  I had to at least mention that long after a conflict is over, a forgotten-about, misguided reprimand can come back to bite a person.   Just sayin.’

    I will find and sign the petition in-between Safari crashings on my iPad.   About donating again we’ll do it as soon as we are able.

    Much good luck, and peace.

    Jane

  9. david says:

    Thanks again, Jane. Once we’re rid of these fools the who idea of a permanent personnel file for a volunteer programmer will be a thing of the ridiculous past.

  10. Tracy Rosenberg says:

    Hi David,

    I’m sorry you got reprimanded for complaining about 9-11 programming. Some people do think the Project for a New Century plan playing out exactly as drawn up by the neocons a few years before wasn’t entirely one of those wild coincidences. Just as the string of assassinations in the 1960’s and 1970’s were probably not carried out by one lone crazed shooter – over and over and over again. There are lessons to be learned about what is happening now from untold history. Otherwise we keep repeating the same mistakes, no?

    KPFA had some pretty serious problems you forgot to mention. Like operating deficits of 1.1 million dollars over two years (2009 and 2010). It is not responsible to trivialize a rapid slide towards bankruptcy nor fail to give credit to current management for ending it and posting better than break-even results this year. There isn’t any KPFA unless someone pays attention to not spending more money than you have and that was sadly lacking for a while.

    I understand disagreements. Hey, we all have them. But the petition is useless. It’s a 22-person board of directors. You’ll perhaps give me more free time at a cost of $25,000 to KPFA to run a recall election, but that is a pretty expensive favor to me.

    I’m sorry you present everything as a “struggle for control”. That seems like a pretty sad way to think about a progressive institution. Maybe its more about service to the social justice movements that are struggling for a better world and sharing the resource that is this frequency with as many people and as many voices as we can and not trying to control everything. Perhaps if KPFA were not so bottlenecked and competitive and entrenched and gatekept, it would have been a more joyous institution these past 30 years, instead of one in constant turmoil.

    Management is necessary. Complaining on the air about crap is a waste of the rare privilege of a noncommercial educational broadcasting license. Living within the limited means of listener sponsorship and carefully stewarding the 3.5 million dollars we are blessed with from the community is a requirement.

    “Fighting for control” is no substitute for any of that.

    Cheers,

    Tracy

  11. REkzkaRZ says:

    David,
    I signed the petition, and I sent an email to KPFA management. I wrote an opinion which was published in the E.Bay Guardian about the Pacifica / KPFA fiasco as well.

    While I somewhat disagree about completely letting go of the 9/11 ‘Inside Job’ story, I agree that a better focus would be on what we can do today. And it starts with KPFA and Pacifica’s battle.

    One of the few areas of strength KPFA has is discussing these issues about Pacifica on the air and letting the community know the situation. However the fallout from offensive management tactics can (unfortunately) impact careers of reporters and activists.

    I hope in addition to changing the Pacifica management, KPFA can ensure that there be NO gag orders from management in the future. It’s absurd.

    I see Tracy posted a comment on here saying complaining on air is a waste of the license — once again, Tracy, you are wrong. But you want to keep the Pacifica mis-handling of KPFA behind closed doors and in secrecy, because when it’s out in the open it becomes clear truly how bad the management has been.
    Tracy, you also described the situation at KPFA to me face to face as a factional struggle for control. Saying David is doing so now & is wrong seems two-faced.

    For KPFA, management is needed to keep the doors open, to help resolve occasional internal disputes, and to keep the payroll moving along. The content does not need your help (although I hope to hear years of Democracy Now rebroadcast through KPFA).

    Sincerely,
    rekzkarz.com
    I’m a paid member and a regular listener

  12. Tracy Rosenberg says:

    Hi rezkarz.com,

    (What is your actual name – by the way?)

    First inquiry is : What is an E. Bay Guardian? If you’re referring to the East Bay Express, it is not owned nor operated by the SF Guardian, nor does it go by that name.

    I’m glad to hear you agree censoring questions about the events of 9-11 is not the way to go. If we are going to restrict from the airwaves discussion of the 9-11 attack that manipulated the country into two disastrous invasions and looted the treasury, then what else are we going to censor? I don’t know much of a way to report on official lies or seeming-lies without talking about them. What we can do now seems fairly obvious: get the hell out of the two countries we never should have been in. I can’t agree with David there should be a gag rule on questioning the official version of events. Where does that get us with a government that lies to us regularly?

    I can see how discussing the untruths that are fed to us by a malicious government and repeated by a craven press at 59,000 watts throughout Northern California might be important.

    I haven’t quite figured out how complaining about what is on the radio the next morning at 59,000 watts throughout California might be important, And in the middle of a fund drive to raise enough money to continue broadcasting at those 59,000 watts, no less. Self-defeating at best.

    It is possible Pacifica mismanaged KPFA by not allowing KPFA to lose more than half a million dollars for a 3rd consecutive year. I’d guess they finally did that because there was no longer half a million dollars in the bank. The progressive position has to be that it is inhumane to pay employees with monopoly money. Not enough landlords take it.

    KPFA posted a 27% reduction in pledges and donations revenues between 2005 and 2009. It gained back about 2% of that between 2009 and today. That leaves a 26% gap. No secrets. KPFA can’t get another job, so expenses had to be cut. What is sad is that it took more than two years and the spending of a million dollar reserve down to zero before anyone acted. That was abysmal management and thank God, it has improved.

    Since I have no idea who you are, and you seem to be posting under a pseudonym, I shall take the comment about things I supposedly said with a grain of salt. Welcome to the Internet. The point is there is nothing to control. There is only truth to tell and work to be done to save the planet. I suspect the real answer to KPFA’s problems is more focus on that and less on struggle and control and gatekeeping.

    No fun, that. To participate in or to listen to.

    Cheers,

    Tracy

  13. […] edition of Dead to the World on Wednesday, August 3. A transcript of my on-air remarks is posted here, along with an email from the interim program director taking me to task for what I said. In the […]

  14. Jer Bear says:

    Hey,

    What a strange issue to have become an issue.

  15. Chris Voigt says:

    This issue is not dead…please help to stop the teabaggers from their attempt of national mutiny. How much is a hate-free truth worth to you? To me, that is priceless and I’m willing to participate in the struggle. I got your back, David. Please keep me posted about what I can do to help.
    Sincerely,
    Your Ally

  16. JJ Ostinato says:

    “This issue is not dead…please help to stop the teabaggers from their attempt of national mutiny. How much is a hate-free truth worth to you?”

    Calling those who disagree with you “teabaggers” IS NOT hate-free truth.

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