Disc jockeys from Pescadero's community-fueled radio station will convene today with the hope that KPDO's enterprising leader Daniel Roberts will resurface digitally after leaving the country several months ago and explain why he's deserted the station.
"We're trying to figure out what's happening and why he isn't being more forthcoming and transparent," said Catherine Peery, a Pescadero Municipal Advisory Council member who hosts KPDO's financial show, Pescadero Peso.
Roberts moved from San Francisco after 13 years managing Pirate Cat Radio to reinvigorate the dormant KPDO 89.3 FM radio signal last year. The staunch proponent of free speech encouraged dozens of young Pescadero residents to host radio shows and learn about editing and radio broadcasting. During his time on the South Coast, Roberts broadcasted local public meetings and even hosted a fundraiser last fall for a youth radio project.
The mood turned sour around Christmas when Roberts reportedly left Pescadero. Staffers are unclear whether Roberts will call in today via Skype for KPDO's monthly meeting after a three-and-a-half month absence or if staff will once again meet without their director.
A small group of station loyalists has been working to keep KPDO on air in Roberts' absence. Members say they've grown concerned about how the station was run, said station manager Shannon Bowman-Sarkisian. Though not ready to discuss the details until after the staff meeting, Bowman-Sarkisian said the station is going to form a steering committee to ensure better oversight.
The committee, which will ultimately form the board of directors, is one of the first steps in trying to reclaim KPDO as a true community-managed station, she said.
Although Bowman-Sarkisian has been in touch with Roberts through e-mail, staffers last heard formally from Roberts at their January meeting when he Skyped in from England.
Things intensified in mid-February when Roberts' brainchild, Pirate Cat Radio, went off air following uncertainty about who actually owns the San Francisco-based station.
San Francisco Weekly reported last week that Pirate Cat staffers were concerned by the lack of transparency when their $30 monthly dues went to a new investor in December following a partial sale of the station, and then again in January when their dues were deposited in a fund for Pescadero Public Radio Service.
The DJs have questions for Roberts, namely why KPDO's nonprofit Pescadero Public Radio Service would purchase Pirate Cat Radio. The community radio staffers expect answers at today's meeting.
"This is really kind of creepy," said Peery, whose company Peery and Associates partially underwrites KPDO.
Even under the current cloud of uncertainty, Peery said, the station continues to have momentum because its volunteer DJs are dedicated, and the community believes in what the station means to Pescadero.
"We're working to make KPDO more of a community radio station than a Daniel Roberts station," said Bowman-Sarkisian. "It should belong to the community and be a community resource."