Reverse KPFK's General Manager Hire
On May 8, 2015, just a few days before her tenure ended, Pacifica Radio's interim Executive Director Margy Wilkinson announced her hire of the new General Manager for Pacifica station KPFK in Southern California. Station staff, programmers, and listeners who had been enjoying the fresh new leadership of interim GM Anyel Zuberi Fields for the past 10 months, were shocked to find that Wilkinson had chosen former KPFK Local Station Board member Leslie Radford as the new permanent GM.
Zuberi Fields had inherited a station whose books were in disarray and had spent months painstakingly cleaning up house, while at the same time winning the confidence of the station's paid staff and large pool of unpaid programmers and volunteers. His vision for KPFK's financial sustainability while building on a legacy of progressive news and analysis, arts and culture, had buoyed all those involved in the station. After years, it felt like KPFK would not only survive the budgetary woes that all public media outlets are facing, but thrive, with Fields at the helm.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Fields, who is African American, hails from a working class background and served as KPFK's Operations Manager for 8 years before stepping in as interim General Manager in July 2014.
His positive vision for the station galvanized staff and volunteers like never before in recent memory, and brought together factions that often stood on opposite sides of local battles. Under his leadership KPFK successfully reintroduced a sustainer program of donors, and courted "Advocates" for the station who could donate more generously. He implemented a much needed advertising campaign of bench ads around Southern California. He pioneered KPFK's multi-media reach through the acquisition of camera equipment, and cultivated closer relationships with listeners through regular email dispatches. With a skeletal staff he began to make use of the full spectrum of social media outreach to increase KPFK's visibility. Most importantly, Fields saw KPFK's radical and progressive roots as crucial to the political conversations happening around the US as racial injustice, police violence, increasing wealth inequality, and international wars consume our political discourse.
Instead of Zuberi Fields' powerful leadership guiding KPFK into the next era as an influential media outlet, Pacifica replaced him with Radford, a white academic whose only credentials available publicly seem to be teaching communications as an adjunct professor at a local community college, and sitting on the Local Station Board of KPFK for many years. She appears to lack the "3-5 years of management experience in radio or related media required" as mentioned in the job posting. KPFK's staff and programmers were given no opportunity to meet with and question the candidates for the job, as had been the standard practice. Insider politics seems to have won out once more, over common sense and the station's integrity.
We, the undersigned, urge the incoming Pacifica Executive Director John Proffitt, to roll back the GM hire made by his interim predecessor and review the candidates once more. We also urge him to allow staff and programmers to meet and question all candidates and make our recommendation. KPFK deserves no less.
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