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Richmond Sun

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Issues | Other

Letter from the RPA Steering Committee

In Support of The Morning Mix on KPFA

Richard Pirodsky
Interim General Manager, KPFA Radio

Dear Mr. Pirodsky,

The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) is a grassroots, volunteer-based organization founded in 2003 in Richmond, California, aimed at eliminating the excessive influence of corporations in local politics and strengthening the ability of local residents to ensure that city policies meet their needs, especially the needs of the most vulnerable. Our organization clearly has much in common with the values of KPFA and Pacifica.

We appreciated the introduction of the weekday 8:00-9:00 program, The Morning Mix, a few years ago, as it has provided the listening audience in Richmond and the greater Bay Area with a variety of excellent programs on topics of interest that are rarely, if ever, heard elsewhere. Andres Soto's program, for example, has included many segments on progressive initiatives in Richmond that communities throughout the region can relate to, on housing, violence prevention, environmental justice, local arts scene and more.

The RPA learned, to our dismay, that you had made the decision last month to cancel The Morning Mix and re-schedule some of its programs to shorter time slots in the mid-afternoon. We believe it is extremely valuable for the morning drive time audience to be able to hear the diversity of programming that The Morning Mix offered, and hence we urge you to reverse your decision and re-instate The Morning Mix to weekdays at 8:00-9:00 am.

Sincerely,
Marilyn Langlois
Mike Parker
Co-coordinators, Richmond Progressive Alliance

If you want to show your support, too, send an email to KPFA iGM Richard Pirodsky.

Please see Richard Pirodsky's response to this letter, below.

Response to RPA's Letter about the Morning Mix

The Listening Audience Calls the Shots

by Richard Pirodsky, Interim General Manager, KPFA

When I was considerably younger, a wise, old (though probably younger than I am now) program director told me: "For any radio station, the ultimate program director is the listening audience." Then as now, when a program airs has a great deal to do with the (primary) target audience and when that audience is available. Another major factor is the size of the audience available to the station at any given hour in the day.

As I stated in my report to the LSB*, 8am on weekdays provides KPFA with access to the greatest number of potential listeners (over six million) within its broadcast range. For the sake of the station's mandate to provide the greatest service to the various listening communities, and for the sake of the station's need to generate operating revenues, KPFA must try to offer programming with broad appeal to this largest audience of the day. If we instead air more narrowly focused programming, which attracts fewer listeners and fewer donations, there is no other time in the day when we can make up for the loss in listenership and revenue. It is the broadcasting equivalent of covering a solar panel during peak hours of sunlight and trying to make up for it by uncovering the panel at night.

For three years, each of the Morning Mix's seven hosts did what they could to take advantage of the large potential audience available at 8am. As the RPA's letter stated, the Mix presented "progressive initiatives in Richmond that communities throughout the region can relate to..." They can, but they have chosen not to. The listenership (as measured by our live streaming numbers) dropped precipitously from the preceding hour. And despite their best efforts, the Morning Mix hosts were unable to generate the type of revenue a station must demand of programming at 8am. Fund drive after fund drive, we would give the Mix every opportunity to show that its supporters could contribute at a level which would allow KPFA to meet its pledge drive goals. But inevitably, as the drives continued and the Mix came up short, it would have to be preempted by programming which could generate several times what the Mix could.

As a not-for-profit, KPFA does not need to generate the type of income required of commercial stations. But even a not-for-profit has to pay its bills. Still, that does not mean KPFA is abandoning its Richmond listeners or the Morning Mix hosts. Sabrina, Steve, Davy D,, Andres, Peter, and Mickey are still available, over-the-air and from the archives. And KPFA is able to offer the award-winning journalist Sonali Kolhatkar every weekday morning from 8-9am. Uprising generates the kind of listenership and fund drive numbers which allow us to offer other important programs which attract fewer listeners and less revenue. It is a balance we must strive to maintain in order to keep KPFA the active, on-going community service it has pledged to be.

* Richard Pirodsky also discussed the reasoning behind his morning-programming decision in a June 14 report to KPFA's Local Station Board.

BeyondChron comments on "Oil-Backed Race Baiting"

Chevron Provides "Community News" to Richmond

Richmond Standard
Funded By Chevron

by Randy Shaw

BeyondChron, San Francisco's popular online daily, took note of Chevron's role in shaping the news here in Richmond.

As many get their news from local websites like BeyondChron, Chevron has gotten into the act: its Richmond Standard provides "community news" to Richmond.... from the oil company's perspective.

If you come across the website for the Richmond Standard, you'll find stories about local coffee shops, a skateboarding vandal, the performance of the local high school basketball team, and what's playing in local theaters. It looks very much like sites like Berkeleyside with one key difference: it is funded and controlled by a powerful corporation whose political donations seek to dominate Richmond politics.

The site states on its front page: "This news website is brought to you by Chevron Richmond. We aim to provide Richmond residents with important information about what's going on in the community, and to provide a voice for Chevron Richmond on civic issues."

What "important information" is Chevron conveying?

See full article in BeyondChron.

RPA Questions on Sewer Rate Hike

The RPA recognizes the difficult situation both the City of Richmond and its citizens face with the state of our sewer system in the current economy.

A pipeline to connect our system to EBMUD is likely not an available short term solution, even if it may have been the correct solution years ago or may be sometime in the future.

We are also strong supporters of protection for the Bay and would support efforts to stop dumping sewage in the Bay even if it were not required of the city by threat of suit and even though this is a tough economic period.

However there are still important questions to be answered.

  • Can any of the expenses be postponed until we are not facing such tough economic times?
  • Why are the costs being put to homeowners in the most regressive possible way where a single occupant of a small inexpensive home must pay the same as a large wealthy family using much more water and sewage?
  • Are there ways to get Federal funds which can defray costs?
  • What are the real long term possibilities for joining the EBMUD system?
  • Why can we not extend the decision deadline until we can get these questions satisfactorily answered?

We would point out that community opposition to the rate increase has already resulted in a few changes for the good. The city has admitted that its process has not been sufficiently transparent and there is now the recognized need for more and better oversight of Veolia and the district.

There is no reason to end this discussion process prematurely.

Finally, however the immediate situation is resolved, we are still opposed to vital natural resources and services being developed for private profit rather than for the needs of the community. Veolia is an international corporation known for its environmental disregard and its anti-union stance. (see here) We still seek a way to return the operation and control over our water and sewage systems to the public.

Richmond Progressive Alliance Statement