Report from interim General Manager Michael Novick, January 2024
The clean up-move out-build process is now well underway. We have had a series of national zoom calls planning the effort, and Moe Thomas will be coming out on January 15, bringing most of the tech needed with him to build a duplicate master control, broadcast studio, and probably at least a small recording studio, as well as a transmission link from the studio to the transmitter on Mt. Wilson. Escrow closes on February 17 and we may need to vacate the premises very soon after that. While Moe is here, the ED will arrange for a meeting of station staff and Pacifica engineers with the buyers and their architects to get a clearer handle and definition on what space we will have after the renovation is complete, how it will be configured and how much of a role the buyers will play in setting it up and outfitting it. Moe, Stuart, Burt Wiener and the other engineers and tech people involved are very confident that the work we need now can be done timely so that programmers and other staff will have a chance to familiarize themselves with it before we make the switchover, and that we can at whatever point it's necessary make the switch seamlessly from our current operations at 3729 Caheunga Blvd West to the new facility. The move will probably entail more remote production, but the engineers again are confident based on the experience at Houston and Washington and in commercial radio locally that we will be able to accommodate live productions through such remote technology. We anticipate there will be room for live broadcasting as well as pre-recording and editing, in the rented space.
$45,000 will be set aside from the proceeds of the sale to cover the rental and related costs for KPFK for at least 15 months. We anticipate that we will also have usable broadcast and recording tech left that can be used to set up some satellite production and training facilities. We are as of this writing, waiting to hear back from Valley College whether there might be space on that campus for such an installation. The Spanish-language programmers are also looking to set up such a facility.
We raised close to $80K with the December drive even though it was substantially shorter than the other drives this year because of the holidays. In addition, we raised more than $9500 from the first round rummage sale, with more coming in. We will be conducting a second-chance rummage sale on Saturday January 27, and anticipate raising additional funds from that; there are also several prospects of selling the remaining items after that in bulk for an additional sum. We have a fundraiser planned for January 20, hosted and mainly organized by Frank Dorrel (that's the week before the sale) and then another on Feb. 3 with Dr. Gerald Horne, in an in-person author talk, hosted by Dr. Melina Abdullah of "Move the Crowd" and BLM LA, and by Freedom Now, where Dr. Horne is heard weekly conducting interviews. Frank Dorrel is covering the expenses for the first fundraiser, and the venue is being provided free of charge for the second. The main expense there will be for books to sell at the event, and we got a generous donation to cover most of those costs. Please help promote all three events, the peace activists event at Culver Palms United Methodist in Culver City on January 20, the rummage sale (and warm coat donation drive) at the station on January 27, and the Gerald Horne event on Feb. 3. The next on-air drive would begin the following Tuesday, Feb. 6, and run through Friday March 1 (this is a leap year, giving us February 29, but we will probably need the extra day).
We have gotten an OK from the ED and Pacifica counsel to launch the local business and community organization underwriting campaign. A brief explanation and intake form are already up on the website and we are finalizing a brochure and package that will explain it more fully. Stephanie and Arthur Schwartz have signed off on the contract, and we may have our first clients within the week. These brief underwriting spots will comply with the FCC requirements for non-commercial stations, and with the much more stringent requirements of the PNB policy. There are strict limits on what type of businesses and organizations we can accept underwriting from, and a strict prohibition on any influence being exerted on programming or content by underwriters.
About 10-12% of revenue during on-air drives has been coming from new members, and something more than that from lapsed donors, which is encouraging in terms of our campaign to double the station's membership over the course of the current fiscal year, the first quarter of which is already "in the books". This is also encouraging because the overall figures for public radio show a decline of about 11% in revenue from new members, reflecting a continuing significant downward trend in listeners to public radio. We need to capitalize on the likely greater interest in public affairs and political issues because of the elections taking place during the course of 2024, both the primaries and the general election. I also once again urge all board members to sign up for calling out to lapsed donors during the remainder of January, since this is a pool of people who have demonstrated interest in and commitment to the station in the recent past.
We are mainly digesting changes that have already been made, with a few minor tweaks and adjustments. Cal State University LA community news report will move to Sundays, first Sunday of the month alternating with Suzi Weissman's Beneath the Surface. Maggie Le Pique's Profiles will move to Fridays at 7 once a month on the first Friday, alternating with Soul Rebel Radio. Thandisizwe Chimurenga has some issues preventing her from providing Rootwork every week, and Dr. Ife Jie has started "Street Sankofa" on the first and second Thursdays of the month at 7 AM.
We are lining up some training for board operators and programmers. We want to move towards more live reads by the board operators as on-air personalities curating the programming, giving a livelier and more personal appeal, and forward promoting and cross promoting other programming. Mark Maxwell will be offering training on remote production, including for live programming. Frank Sterling who ran the apprenticeship program at sister station KPFA will also be making some training material available, and perhaps some instruction on pacing and presentation for programmers. We have a number of other radio professionals who have offered to provide training pro bono, and interim PD Marlena Bond will be coordinating that with interested programmers. We are still discussing the possibility of adding a second stream of programming as an Internet radio station on the website, and are also hoping to make time and space in the broadcast schedule for a DJ tryout slot and a "KPFK Showcase" for mini-series, specials and auditions of new public affairs programming.
Michael Novick, interim General Manager