News about Pacifica’s (and PFW) Finances from SaveKPFA

Pacifica: putting the pieces back together
Posted on September 13, 2014 by Save KPFA

Last month, we reported on the dire state of the books at Pacifica, the nonprofit that owns KPFA. Pacifica’s new CFO Raul Salvador and board chair Margy Wilkinson (a member of SaveKPFA) found an operation in disarray, after being locked out of the network’s National Office next door to KPFA for two months by ousted executive Summer Reese. Bookkeeping entries had not been made for nine months, and there were unpaid bills lying in large, unorganized stacks, some of which were slated to be shredded until Wilkinson intervened.

After weeks spent reconstructing financial data, Pacifica’s new staff have now issued the most complete network financial statements since Pacifica’s 2012 audit.

Stiffing pension to pay consultants

There was massive overspending at the National Office, which, according to a report from Pacifica National Finance Committee chair Brian Edwards-Tiekert “produced the largest loss the Pacifica National Office has posted since the height of Pacifica’s civil war in 2001.”

Adding injury to injury: while last year’s leadership was running up large bills with temp agencies, consultants, and law firms, they were skipping payments to the pension fund for Pacifica workers, and holding on to payroll taxes that were supposed to go to the IRS.

The good news: the overspending and deficits appear to have leveled out. So far this year, the network is basically breaking even, and there are more savings on the horizon. If Pacifica is able to restore its eligibility for Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding, it should run a healthy surplus. (CPB funding was suspended in 2013 over compliance issues, cutting the network’s revenues by over $1 million per year). | READ financial report, Excel financial spreadsheets (balance sheets, income statements, consolidated monthly sheet)

Crisis management

The biggest challenge facing Pacifica’s new leadership are the angry creditors they have inherited from the Reese era — several of which have initiated lawsuits.

But there is progress on this front as well: new interim executive director Margy Wilkinson negotiated a 21-month interest-free payment plan with an attorney who had been suing Pacifica over unpaid bills. And in early September, the Pacifica National Board voted to approve a 0% interest loan of $156,000 to cover an unpaid tax bill it inherited and head off further penalties. The loan comes from Aris Anagnos, co-founder of the Los Angeles Peace Center and the Humanitarian Law Project, as well as a long-time supporter of Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles. (You can learn more about Anagnos by listening to this interview with him on KPFK). Anagnos had asked that the discussion of the loan and his name both be made public — to inspire other major supporters to join him in helping Pacifica through its current difficulties.

Now that Pacifica’s financial records are getting cleaned up, Wilkinson reports that it’s getting easier to push back on some claims by creditors. Recently, she talked down a vendor threatening to sue over money Pacifica had already paid.

Still unresolved is the money owed to Pacifica’s pension fund, and lawsuits over unpaid bills, including one from a temp agency Pacifica used heavily last year, and another from Free Speech Radio News, which was forced off the air in mid-2013 after Pacifica stopped making payments for its daily newscast.

3 comments

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  2. Elaine

    Who is/are responsible for all the financial instability that has plagued Pacifica for so many years, and why are those persons still having any influence on the network’s viability? This has been going on far too long, and yet it continues while relentlessly browbeating its listeners to contribute to it’s stations throughout the U.S. This is not only unfair, but seems to denote a type of insanity or narcissism on the part of Pacifica management.

    I love and have been a member of Pacifica and WPFW for almost 20 years, but to hear the same tale of woe 3 and 4 times a year during repeated and repetitious fund-raisers strikes me as a clear indication that Pacifica–the network which controls the stations–is not showing respect for its listeners, nor for its programmers, who work diligently to provide great musical programming and an array of online programs featuring well-respected authors and orators, frequently with no pay at all. It has become more and more difficult for many of us to provide the needed financial support to our local Pacifica radio station(s) because we are ALL affected by the shortages we hear about from the stations many times per day, except that WE are NOT responsible for these never-ending shortages, so WHO IS/ARE the responsible parties and WHY can’t they get their act together and bring their finances into balance?

    These questions have never been aired nor answered for the thousands of listeners who have continued to keep the Pacific network stations afloat.

    I do feel Pacifica has long since ceased to give a damn, since its listeners continue to open our wallets and, thus, life seems to go on for the network.

    It’s time to stop this shameful behavior by Pacifica. Yes, I’d hate to see my favorite station go out of business, but there seems to be no end to the embarrassing begging the programmers are compelled to resort to year in and year out. So what’s it going to be, Pacifica??

    Time to state your case and clearly. It’s time to commit to permanent fiscal responsibility. Thank you.

    A long time listener and contributor: Elaine K. McGinnis

  3. Elaine K. McGinnis

    How very sad that a station providing such outstanding programming can’t get its business matters sorted out after all these years of begging for money. Where has it gone and why is it still in such disarray? I love the station but am concerned about constantly trying to prop up what can only be called a sinking ship. Why not tap into some local Schools of Business and Schools of Communications to find some fresh talent to help resolve this ongoing quagmire??? John Hughes should have been gone. He appears to be part of the ongoing problem, when he should be part of a permanent solution.

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