Local radio station listeners petition for board member’s recall

KPFA radio station listeners submitted a petition with over 800 signatures Saturday, voting for a recall election of  Tracy Rosenberg, board member for the station’s parent organization.

Members of the SaveKPFA coalition — who spearheaded the petition — cite Rosenberg’s part in the Pacifica Foundation’s decision to eliminate the Morning Show at KPFA Radio 94.1 FM in Berkeley last November and her support for national over local management as main reasons for their dissatisfaction.

“(The hosts of the Morning Show) were crackerjack, they were top-notch,”  said KPFA local board member Pamela Drake. “People really liked listening to them. They got a broad range of news from around the world and the local area.”

Listener donations from KPFA’s “morning drive time” have decreased since the show was pulled off the air, according to Margy Wilkinson, a coalition member.

Brian Edwards-Tiekert, general assignment reporter for KPFA and former co-host of the Morning Show, said he was told his program was canceled for financial reasons.

Last year, the Pacifica board voted for the show’s termination as a cost-saving measure in order to reduce KPFA’s budget deficit of about $575,000 — a decision that proved highly unpopular among listeners.

Rosenberg said the show was canceled due to its high operating costs. From last October until the end of July, KPFA’s revenue increased by 3.5 percent during fund drives — drawing in $82,000 more than that of the same time period the previous year.

However, Edwards-Tiekert pointed out that nearly three weeks of fund drives were added to the station’s schedule this year.

“The only reason (funding) has gone up a little is because there are that many more days in the fund drive,” he said.

According to a comparison of average hourly fundraising during summer 2010 and 2011, pledges from listeners have decreased in the morning hours since the show was canceled.

Some petitioners do not believe the reasons behind the show’s termination were purely financial.

“Tracy’s on the board. She heads up a faction of the board. In the last election, that faction lost badly, mostly because most of us who are recognizable daily programmers from KPFA endorsed another group,” Edwards-Tiekert said. “They’re trying to eliminate the programs which carry clout with the voters that are operated by people who are not on their side.”

Christina Huggins, executive vice president of the Communications Workers of America Local 9415 — which represents the paid workers at KPFA — said listeners believe Rosenberg does not represent their community interests.

“This particular person has been very damaging to our local (station),” she said. “She has gotten involved in decisions involving layoffs, being totally inappropriate on the local station board.”

Rosenberg said recalling her will not bring back the Morning Show.

“It’s simply, as far as I’m concerned, an act of revenge by people who don’t like what happened,” she said.

Noor Al-Samarrai of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.