Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: An e-mail this week summed up a lot of feelings as the visitor wondered how I could cover KPFA when they have announced that they will most likely begin curtailing online listening shortly? I do not know how I can and I honestly have not listened despite being in their broadcast listening area this week and next. I can tell you that KPFK in general and Margaret Prescod specifically (host of Sojourner Truth) are not attempting to run off listeners. In fact, Ms. Prescod has been stressing on air not only the online streams and the podcasts but that their archived broadcasts go up two hours after a program airs. Possibly that stems from the station not spinning tunes for twelve hours a day?

But the announcement from KPFA that I noticed in my last report, the one I suspected most visitors e-mailing had not seen, did not go over well: "KPFA may have to limit the amount of online listeners we have." I also received e-mails from two songwriters who shared their opinion that, public radio or not, royalty rates needed to be fair. One, noting how often his songs have been played on KPFA, wanted to back up my point that you do not play twelve hours of music unless you see it as "cheap programming." His comments were blistering and if he wants them shared here in full, he need only e-mail again to give me permission.

But a half day devoted to riding the gravy train of the work of others appears to be coming to an end, July 15th is the cut off, and I assume we will shortly see stream limitations, programming blocking, or sign ups if you donate.

As someone who normally has to listen to KPFA online, I share the attitude of many e-mailers, community members and visitors, that the message sent was received. That is why you will see no link for the station in this report. A station that does not want listeners is not a station I will be linking to. In a perfect world, the rise in royalty rates would cause KPFA to stop playing it on the cheap, either pay artists the royalties they deserve or stop padding out half a broadcast day with 'programs' that spin records. We really did not tend to think of those as programs 'back in the day.' We thought of those as musical shifts. ___ worked the late night shift or worked the morning shift or whatever. It was a music radio station and you might have your favorite shift but you did not mistake it for a program even if had a theme.

Visitor Megan, not our own Megan, wanted to share that the "tantrum" they threw sent a loud message to her. She wondered where "community radio" got off devoting twelve hours a day to spinning tunes "when they cannot cover the illegal war?" That is a good point. That is a very strong point. Megan's referring to the fact that there is no program, not even a weekly one, that has Iraq as the focus. She also notes all the issues and actions in the Bay Area that do not get covered "and I do blame the hours and hours devoted to playing records for that. My own hope is that this increase will force KPFA to start creating community programming."

A hope I had shared; however, the due date is Monday and word comes down that some sort of an agreement will be reached. The payment amounts will rise but not as much as expected is what the business press has been reporting this weekend.

If the rate is low enough, KPFA may not have to address the fact that half a day, Monday through Friday, they are doing nothing but spinning tunes while avoiding creating programs that address local concerns and the Iraq war. Zach shared his fear that if the Bully Boy declares war on Iran, the way KPFA's coverage currently exists, Iraq will fall right off their news radar.