KPFK Staff Letter-1/95
...and a response from Jack O'Dell

TO:  Pacifica Executive Board and Executive Director
FROM: Paid and Unpaid Staff of KPFK
DATE: 1/19/95

We, the undersigned, urgently request that Pacifica's Executive Board and Executive Director immediately rescind the termination of KPFK's Assistant General Manager, Mary Fowler. We are extremely concerned by her unjust termination, and question whether Pacifica is living up to its commitment to justice as put forth in its Mission Statement. With Ms. Fowler's termination, Pacifica serves notice to all its employees and volunteers that loyalty, dedication, and hard work are of little value to the organization.

Mary Fowler has selflessly given the last 10 years of her life to ensuring that KPFK remain one of the two financially healthy stations in this mostly unhealthy radio network. Pacifica has only Mary Fowler to thank for the financial security achieved through seven different management regimes during the last decade. Mary has literally worked seven days a week to ensure that the bookkeeping, administration, and Foundation mandates are met on a weekly basis. The fact that Pacifica has not been able to find a General Manager who can work in a sometimes difficult and conflictive environment should not be held against an employee who has survived through dedication and struggle, and at times has led this station when General Managers have failed to offer direction. To claim that she is being dismissed due to a "management restructuring" is extremely offensive and makes Pacifica no different than other corporate environments where employees' lives and well-being are measured only in terms of "efficiency" and profit margins.

We urgently request that the Executive Board of Pacifica, whom its Executive Director claims is responsible for this highly questionable decision, explain how a body with no day-to-day contact with this station can dismiss an employee who has never been reprimanded or disciplined and who has served Pacifica with integrity and sincerity for a decade. We must all wonder what our worth as employees is to an allegedly progressive organization that seems to view us only as expendable resources. .

We demand a response and immediate action within ten days, or an era of cold and tense relations between this station and Pacifica is on the horizon. We are open to dialogue, but not to the dismissal of Mary Fowler. Please do not leave this problem unresolved. It could spell disaster for yet another Pacifica station.

signed by the paid staff and 40 unpaid staff and volunteers

Pacifica's first response was a telephone call from Mary Tilson of the National office to Jane Graves, KPFK office manager. Tilson wanted to know if the letter, which had been sent certified mail to each Board member, had used postage from the station (it had not.) She also expressed Board members were unhappy to receive these letters at their homes. She also asked Jane if "she still wished to have her name on the letter."

Pacifica's final response was this letter from Jack O'Dell of February 13, 1995

February 13, 1995

Jack O'Dell
Pacifica National Board of Directors
1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

Dear Paid and Unpaid Staff of KPFK,

The Executive Committee of the Pacifica Board of Directors, Executive Director Pat Scott, and the KPFK station Advisory Board has received your thoughtful letter and petition. Your concerns have been discussed at two conference calls. One on Thursday February 1 with the Executive Committee, and the other on Friday, February 2 with Pat Scott and the KPFK station advisory board. The Management team at KPFK has also been consulted.

As you may know, Pat Scott, as Acting Executive Director, has been given oversight of KPFK and has worked closely with the station for over a year. The elimination of the Business Director position was taken after evaluation of the business function at KPFK, after much thought and deliberation, and after consultation with the Executive Committee. There is support for the decision among the members of the KPFK Advisory Board.

We understand and appreciate the concern and loyalty of the paid and unpaid staff at KPFK, for Mary Fowler and for the station itself. This was a difficult decision to make, and was made in the hope that the best interest of the station and its listeners would be served.

I assure you the National Board is very well aware of and values the committment and dedication that is brought to KPFK by all its staff and volunteers. Thank you for your letter.


Jack O'Dell
Pacifica National Board of Directors

cc: Pat Scott, Executive Director

Pacifica Executive Committee
KPFK Management Team
Ruben Lizardo, Chair, KPFK Advisory Board

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