Oriana Saportas: Community activist, former KPFA Local Election Supervisor, former board member Berkeley Community Media, current board member Media Alliance, member Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net)
I served as the KPFA local election supervisor in 2010. I’m originally from Colombia, and moved to the United States in 1996. I graduated college from Florida Atlantic University with a BA in Communications and a minor in film and video production. In 2001, I moved to California to work as an intern/ organizer for Los Angeles D-Congressman Xavier Becerra’s mayoral race.
Most of my professional life has been dedicated to community and labor organizing, working with groups such as ACORN, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers (UHW), and ACCE most recently. I’m running for the board at KPFA because I’m interested in nonprofit governance and horizontal structures of governance through elected boards, specifically as they can be applied to media institutions.
I believe in the importance and critical role of independent media to help advance the social justice movement’s agenda. I think that for a real participatory democracy to happen we first need to work on defining how our disenfranchised communities can better communicate with each other. We need to develop more alternative models of communication, such as KPFA, which can work outside the corporate media, the government, the political process, and the Internet.
I’m interested in running for the board because I want to assist in the decision-making process at KPFA and assist KPFA in connecting with the nonprofit activist community.
I am running with United for Community Radio because I believe in their vision for community and independent media as it relates to bringing about social change.
As I run for the board, I will be looking into finding strategic solutions to the internal political fighting within KPFA and figuring out ways that we can all work together to make KPFA a real 21st century community center radio station.
Questions and Answers
1. In what ways is KPFA moving in a positive direction, that you would want to continue or perhaps improve?
KPFA is always moving in a positive direction as it has always maintained its radical and independent programming. This is something that needs to continue.
2. In what ways is KPFA moving in a negative direction, that you would want to stop or change? What changes would you work for?
I wouldn’t say KPFA is moving in a negative direction but I think there is always room for improvement. Since we are talking about a radio station, it is inevitable to discuss programming so I will start by talking about that.
I think KPFA’s programming could be a little more dynamic, not so much as to the content of the programming itself, but more as to its context and how the programming grid is structured and packaged. I believe KPFA has the potential of reaching to a broader audience and increasing listeners by engaging the younger generations as well as lower income communities and workers who belong to unions.
We can do this by engaging people around a social movement agenda that not only includes activism but also music and the arts, and by adjusting the programming grid to fit those community’s needs, where everyone who fits with the KPFA mission can have a voice and a slot, and therefore community.
I think KPFA needs to work on audience development strategies through the implementation of a well structured and professional Program Council that is able to assist KPFA journalists by helping educating, organize, and mobilize the community in what becomes a binary and organic process between listeners / constituency and citizen journalists / producers.
In regards to KPFA management, I believe that KPFA’s unpaid staff, which makes up 60% or more of its programming, needs more access to training opportunities and incentives such as stipends or even a salary. There should still be unpaid staff at the station but I believe that every show programmer should get paid.
I would work to help implement an interesting Program Council that can work well with the Local Station Board and station’s staff. I would work to assist KPFA’s General Manager and Program Director to come up with creative ideas on how to bring more money to the station.
3. What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission?
I bring to the Local Station Board my experience as a community / labor organizer and media activist. I’m also looking to pursue an MBA or MPA focused on nonprofit management and want to do more research on participatory structures of governance for media institutions.
I have been a board member at Berkeley Community Media, public access TV, and currently serve on the board at Media Alliance in Oakland. I’m also part of the MAG-Net, Media Action Grassroots Network, and have a passion for media advocacy and media activism.
As a queer woman I’m also very connected to the LGBT community of the Bay Area. I’m bicultural with a Colombian / Middle Eastern Jewish background and fluent in Spanish.
4. What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced?
Besides developing a realistic and financial responsible plan, I think KPFA needs to think outside the box and not only rely on individual listener contributions but also work on building coalitions with other organizations and nonprofits in the Bay Area to bring organizational memberships to the station and developing partnerships to obtain grant funding.