If management at KPFK Pacifica Radio were to pick a comparison inspired by recent world events to illustrate the current status of their operation, they probably wouldn’t settle on Greece.

But that’s just the route that Sonali Kolhatkar, Truthdig columnist and host of KPFK’s popular “Uprising” program, took in writing an op-ed column in the Los Angeles Times about the ongoing turmoil at the city’s stalwart progressive radio station.

We’ll let Sonali speak for herself in the piece published Thursday (via the Los Angeles Times):

On Aug. 17, KPFK Pacifica Radio’s newly appointed general manager, Leslie Radford, called a staff meeting at the 56-year-old leftist public radio station. She promptly informed us that in two weeks’ time, all workers would have their salary cut in half for a period of four months. Although the decision was made in violation of our employee union contract, Radford — citing hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt — said her hands were tied.

Those of us on the inside are now wondering whether this already fragile institution can survive yet another austerity measure in a long line of layoffs and reductions. Continuous turnover of upper management over the last decade, coupled with nonexistent long-term financial planning, has turned Southern California’s oldest public radio station into a micro-version of Greece.

And just as ordinary Greeks were made to bear the brunt of a financial crisis that was not of their doing, KPFK’s staff members are facing cuts as a result of debts created by others. All of the decision-making over finances lies with an unwieldy, listener-dominated board that is in turn directing the general manager. Its plan to return us to solvency — if one can even call it a plan — appears to involve nearly constant on-air pledge drives, which of course bring in ever smaller amounts of money as we alienate our audience.

In the L.A. Times article, Kolhatkar mobilizes the same uncompromising voice and sense of justice that draw listeners to her KPFK show to highlight the problems at the station. The headline: “KPFK’s death by democracy.”

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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