Stephanie Bergsma and Doug Myrland
  • Stephanie Bergsma and Doug Myrland
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How much do retired executives of KPBS, the San Diego State University–run, tax-funded public broadcasting operation that spins local news in ways seen by critics as benefiting the university’s donors — including the ultimately failed Lilac Hills Ranch project on November’s ballot — get from the state’s pension fund?

Per the Transparent California website, retired KPBS general manager Doug Myrland, who in August 2007 ran afoul of viewers for firing 12 staffers and shutting down popular local programs, is now in lucrative repose, pulling down a tidy $86,217 pension each year. “This process doesn’t need to be ‘transparent.’ We aren’t elected officials — every budget line item and every personnel decision and every bit of information we collect is not everybody else’s business,” said Myrland during the local programming dust-up. “Just because you give a contribution or pay taxes doesn’t give you the right to decide — or even influence — what goes on the air and what doesn’t.” Less than a year later, after continued battering by detractors, Myrland announced his surprise retirement from the university at age 55. At the time was making $218,004 in annual salary and benefits.

Ex-KPBS fundraiser Stephanie Bergsma, who hit up many of the city’s richest individuals and special interests when she worked for SDSU, is also doing well, thanks in part to the state pension fund. “Last week, I went to a charity event in Los Angeles where there were young, supposedly very affluent Hollywood people,” wrote Bergsma on a blog for professional fundraisers. “It was a great party but when it came time for them to raise the paddle or bid on auction items, they didn’t respond. Why? The auctioneer was a local news personality who had no experience, the video featured a mentally ill homeless youth that no one could identify with, and there was no compelling story.”

Bergsma’s annual pension is listed at $41,915. She is reported to live in a posh Del Mar track-view estate in Solana Beach with husband Dwight Hare, a software executive, per an account in Ranch and Coast Magazine. “A curved wood staircase leads from the foyer to the bright living room where sleek, modern furniture forms a neutral backdrop for bursts of color, from plump Marimekko pillows to treasures from the couple’s travels including a century-old silk wall-hanging from India, a Balinese painting, pottery from Santa Fe, and a whimsical wood carving from a Oaxacan artisan.... When not on the road, Bergsma and Hare often entertain in the expansive backyard with its pool and outdoor kitchen. He likes to cook one-pot meals such as gumbo and cassoulet. She swears by Blue Apron, a service that delivers fresh ingredients and inventive recipes right to the front door. When they feel like dining out, Market Restaurant + Bar, Sea & Smoke, and Cucina Enoteca are close at hand.”

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Comments

AlexClarke Nov. 24, 2016 @ 6:31 a.m.

If someone works and as part of their compensation they receive a pension what is wrong with that? $41k or even $86k is not a large pension in relation to what they were making.

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Javajoe25 Nov. 24, 2016 @ 9:48 a.m.

I couldn't agree more with you on this one, Alex. I think these two may have been a tad over served at the salary bar, but all things considered, their pensions seem slim. Some people just have a lot of resentment about folks who get good pensions-- especially those employed in the public sector, where they still have unions and good pay with benefits,and a decent pension package. I have no sympathy for those who decided they didn't want a union, or worse, had one and voted it out. Now they're whining about those "overly generous" public employee pensions. They waved good-bye to the union rep and then watched as the executives salaries went from 20 times theirs to 400 times theirs, and their raises slowed to a crawl while their pensions went into the stock market and pretty much evaporated. Now they point and wail about those who were smart enough to hang on to their union contract and think that if they can't get themselves up, maybe they can at least bring some others down. And the big dogs go laughing all the way to the bank.

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swell Nov. 24, 2016 @ 11:43 a.m.

Still, there's that confusing first paragraph... It seems to suggest that KPBS presents news only when it doesn't offend its advertisers. I might add that certain insiders in the city and county get preferential treatment too. The result is that citizens are not informed, but advertising takes up a huge percent of my radio hour. Myrland and management are responsible for this fraud and don't deserve a penny from donors or taxpayers.

That's why I'm here at the Reader- I expect to see the news that mainstream media is covering up. RIP Gloria Penner, who irritated more scammers than anyone since at KPBS.

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monaghan Nov. 29, 2016 @ 6:37 p.m.

Myrland was responsible for unforgivable chintzy cuts in KPBS programming that persist to the present day: hour-long programs repeated on weekend days, relegating Philadelphia's Terry Gross' interviews of writers and musicians to nighttime, installing stupid quiz-format game shows. Dumbing-down "content" must mean more money available for early KPBS retirees like Myrland himself.

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