Another twist in the KPFA tale

Protest at KPFA in November/Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The long-running dispute over management of local non-commercial radio station KPFA took another turn yesterday. The Pacifica Foundation, which owns and runs the station, reinstated former Morning Show co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert with back pay and benefits. But Edwards-Tiekert will return to the station as a news reporter, not as a show host.

In a letter to supporters, Edwards-Tiekert wrote, “Legally speaking, Pacifica management is throwing in the towel… Pacifica has basically conceded it can’t win the pending arbitration over my dismissal.” Edwards-Tiekert and co-host Aimee Allison were laid off last year out of seniority order. Allison’s arbitration hearing is still going forward. Pacifica claimed the involuntary lay-offs were necessary to cut costs. An additional seven staff members took voluntary lay offs.

The staff ructions are part of a larger dispute over the running of Pacifica. On Wednesday, an Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Pacifica from discussing KPFA issues at its national meeting in Houston which starts today. Three members of Save KPFA, Andrea Turner, Dan Siegel and Laura Prives, won election to the Pacifica national board in January. The incumbent members of the Pacifica national board then threw Siegel off both the local and national board. A date for a full hearing in the Superior Court has been set for March 18.

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  • Jeanette Tierman

    This article is wildly inaccurate. Do your reporters actually do journalism or just rewrite press releases?

    Edwards-Tiekert wasn’t reinstated. He chose to bump a less senior worker and take over their job as a part-time news reporter after being laid off from his former job as a paid host. Pacifica notified Edwards-Tiekert the bumping option was available to him 3 months ago. He chose to file a bunch of grievances and try to get the hosting position back. He didn’ get the hosting position back and understood he would not succeed in doing so if he went to arbitration.. So he threw in the towel.

    Dan Siegel lost his request for a temporary restraining order in Alameda Superior Court. He and Save KPFA attempted to prevent the Pacifica Foundation board meeting from occurring without Mr. Siegel’s presence, although he has been told repeatedly by the foundation that serving as Jean Quan’s legal advisor cannot happen concurrently with serving on Pacifica’s board. Political appointments are prohibited for sitting board members.

  • tizzielish

    Gosh, does anyone else see how our culture reverberates with holograms and repetitive waves? On a relatively small scale, the Pacifica board of directors are acting like a small wave of reactionary, almost totalitarian behavior and then, if we turn our attention to larger waves, we see behavior like Governor Walker of Wisconsin and Khadaffi in Libya.

    The Pacifica board members seem to think they can do whatever they want, disregarding contracts and little things like due process. How can they kick a newly elected person off the board and think there will be no reaction?

    I think the world is going to get a lot uglier before it gets better. I hope I am wrong.

    And I hope KPFA survives the actions of its incumbent board. We need our great local radio station.

    It’s times like this when I, a lawyer, like to remind folks that lawyers can be very nice things to have around in times of trouble.

    I know this comment goes well beyond the scope of Berkeley but Berkeley is a microcosm of the world. It is cool to see the microcosm and also scary to see the microcosm. The realities of a small local radio station reverberate throughout our culture, far beyond Berkeley.

  • Adrienne Lauby

    It’s common journalistic practice to get at least two sources for a story. This is especially important when there is a disagreement within a progressive institution. This story is very one-sided. Lance Knobel and Berkeley Side owe us another story.

  • G

    We need to be more business friendly in this country. Which includes making it easy to fire employees.

    The Pacifica foundation, as far as I’m told, has every right to dissolve KPFA for whatever reasons. All these “grievances” are nonsense.

    We need to SUPPORT Governor Walker who is the only one in this country trying to be nice to businesses and taxpayers.

    Call your local rep and ask:

    1.) public sector pensions to be replaced by 401k
    2.) no more health care for public employees

    We need to respect Pacifica if it followed the law.
    We need to support Walker for stopping the pillage of taxpayers.

  • Den

    Yeah, maybe Berkeleyside can cover the part about volunteer Morning Mix host Adrienne Lauby, who writes above, being part of a money-laundering scandal in Cotati. Biggest thing to hit the town in years:

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/02/16/18672175.php

    Why would we want such a person to do political interviews at KPFA? Why didn’t she at least disclose this before pushing to “replace” (i.e., scab) on wrongly laid off staff?

    There is not even a financial reason to gut the Morning Show, since KPFA outperformed its budget by $290,000 in the last part of 2010 (see the startling new information that the new board treasurer has dug up at http://www.SaveKPFA.org).

    What’s happening at KPFA is so sad. We had a great Morning Show – the pride of the station and the bay area – that management and its allies like Lauby want to undermine. Now, pledge statistics show the Morning Mix is pulling in way, way less and pulling the whole morning time and station with it. It’s an embarassment for KPFA.

  • Jeanette Tierman

    Yeah Den. KPFA just released it’s first positive quarterly financial statement in over two years, after losing more than a million dollars between 2008 and 2010. When you stop losing money hand over fist, you’re doing the right things. Don’t be embarrassed by not losing half a million dollars a year you don’t have. Be grateful that someone acted to pull KPFA off the side of a cliff.