Top

blog

Stories

 

Reader: Colorado Public Radio might survive end of federal funding, but not other stations

In a recent post, a Colorado Public Radio executive said the troubles at National Public Radio hadn't impacted CPR -- and while he conceded that a possible elimination of federal funding being pushed by some politicos would hurt, it wouldn't be fatal. Maybe that's true for CPR, notes one reader, but the story might be different for other outlets.

Confluence Park writes:

Michael -- On the topic of ending Congressional funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) you do a good job of getting inside the head of an exec in ONE CAMP within the public radio community, which represents the state of affairs at many major market public radio stations. CPR, like their big city counterparts, subscribes to a relatively play-it-safe approach to programming and operations. Their highly researched product (research running into the six figure domain) does pay great dividends in terms of business underwriting and listener support dollars. But in the process, some of us think this PROCESS-HEAVY management style curtails the creativity that is possible to generate new programs and/or ideas. EIGHT TO TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS OF DEBT aside, CPR is feeling relatively good about the ending of CPB funding. This is NOT a stance shared by "rough around the edges" rural public stations, and lower-budgeted urban public stations, which unlike the CPR's of the system, operate with far more volunteer energy, spontaneity, and room for creativity. A comparable column on this topic, with ample reader comments, appeared in the Denver Post this past week:

http://www.denverpost.com/hars...

I hope that your familiarity with Grand Junction and the Western Slope will serve you when you decide to shine some light on ANOTHER CAMP in public radio circles. Simply put, here is the bottom line:

The backbone of today's conservatism, rural America, would lose the most with an end to CPB funding. In radio terms, it will be akin to ending Federal support for the 1,000 rural electric coops around the country. When CPB funding ends, some of the more "cavalier" major market public stations will be able to just waltz into rural station hamlets and score another station for their trophy wall.

The concept of LOCALISM, now being touted as the only way top save a dying medium, WILL DIE. To see the future, all you need to do is look at CPR's prime associate station in Grand Junction, KPRN. For nearly 20 years, the storefront of the KPRN studios on Main Street remains a very high profile space downtown, with plenty of radio equipment in the spacious front window. The KPRN space is large enough for several employees, yet only one business underwriting employee works there on a regular basis. When you listen to KPRN, the predominant feature for local cut-ins to CPR programming are for business underwriting spots and pleas for listener support. LOCALISM died the day the once-independent KPRN Board voted 6 to 3 to merge with KCFR to form CPR. The Board vote came due to budget pressures; the kind of pressures that will be felt, tenfold, at all rural stations when CPB funding stops.

An end to CPB funding will mean MAJOR MARKET public stations will be set back, but they will have enough large market business and listener support to "scrape by". Rural, and lower budgeted urban public stations, providing the best hope to generate new ideas and budding talent, DO NOT HAVE THAT LUXURY !!!

For more memorable takes, visit our Comment of the Day archive.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
34 comments
bobchrist488
bobchrist488

great information.Thanks for sharing.bookmark this one.very interesting blog. 

inbound seo toronto
inbound seo toronto

thanks for sharing this useful information, your site is interesting. 

canadian seo company
canadian seo company

Thanks for the post, This was exactly what I needed to see.Good list, keep up the good work 

seo calgary
seo calgary

Nice post.Thank you for sharing some good things!! 

seo services
seo services

Very helpful content, pleased I uncovered this website. Thanks. 

seo packages prices
seo packages prices

  Very very interesting post..I like this one. gotta bookmark this one.

www.seoservicescanada.com
www.seoservicescanada.com

Ensures we measure all your activity and so produce a better profile of you.This is good for use.I like this content.

seo services
seo services

I am pretty much pleased with your good work. You put really very helpful information 

seo company
seo company

Nice post.Thank you for sharing some good things!! 

seo services canada
seo services canada

such a great info! its help me a lot..thanks for sharing! keep it up ya

Six sigma black belt
Six sigma black belt

Nice article and thank you for the thaught.I really liked  the idea of monitoring apps leading to contests.Thanks for sharing.Keep sharing in future too.

Energy Birmingham
Energy Birmingham

Deserving choice for an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks for writing.Keep sharing articles like this in future too.

Confluence Park
Confluence Park

The day of reckoning is upon the true public radio listener. 44 years ago, the concept started.

The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 was funded so non-commercial stations could serve unserved audiences, while providing educational and/or cultural programming not available to the public elsewhere. Regarding the need for that kind of system today, we have been in a transition from the days when AM radio was king (and FM was in its programming infancy) and when there were only several tv channels in each market. With today's satellite radio and multiple tv channels available, the essential nature of the Public Broadcasting Act has therefore (I'll be the first to say it) DIMINISHED in importance, but only in larger markets.

I think that most major market Public Radio stations should have been taken off the Government dole a decade ago. Most of them have bought into the homogenized marketing end of broadcasting, hence they don't need additional public assistance aside from their local/regional focus group-driven fund raising efforts. Continued CPB funding for them would be acceptable, if the “big boys” were producing something worthwhile for national distribution. WNYC’s “The Take Away” fills that bill, and there are a few other exceptions, but most large stations only consume the programming available on the satellite.

In Colorado, the extra CPB money provided to Colorado Public Radio/CPR gave them the freedom to make some terrible choices -- They actively pursued the buy-outs of:

-- KCSU (and at the time also CSU properties KTSC, Pueblo and KDUR, Durango) in 1993; -- KUNC for $1.2 Million, more than 10 years ago;-- KUVO for $2 Million in 2001, then $6 Million in 2004, and-- KRCC in the early 2000's, for an unknown amount

in all instances, CPR was rebuffed (in KUNC's case because people like former Beirut hostage Tom Sutherland stepped in to help KUNC remain independent). CPR did, however, obtain COMMUNITY ASSET KPRN, Grand Junction (in a highly orchestrated take-over of the station) in 1991 and stripped all local programming presence -- save for local business underwriting announcements and weather drop-ins...... Since then, CPR bought 1340 AM in Denver and 1490 AM in Boulder, and the 2,000 watt 88.1 FM signal ... all of which were over-priced in a then “buyer's market” --- leaving CPR with 12 million dollars of debt. To me the CPR lip service given to community service, and their financial blunders while under the delirious notion of self-importance, are the best reasons anyone could have to end CPB funding.

The same fun and games are not found at public stations which really need the assistance. They are the Rural Stations, or lower-budgeted urban stations which operate with far more volunteer energy and possess an often “rough around the edges” sound and presence. They could not put together a serious marketing strategy if they wanted to. They are the type of stations which hold the best promise for the up and coming generations to develop programming and the skills needed to produce relevant programming for local and national distribution..... The only way that can happen is if such stations receive CPB funding on a greater scale than today’s pittance, which could be achieved by ending funding for stations with a budget of a Million Dollars or more (or name a figure of your choosing).

There's plenty of gray in Public Radio, in what seems like a black and white situation. I don't expect the people frothing at the mouth in Congress to take the time to sort all of this out. And it's too bad, because even with radio's fading importance I see another chunk of the nation's soul fading away with the loss of CPB...while we wait for everyone to become connected to the next big thing. I still don't see that happening anytime soon, at least for two more Presidential elections.

I'm also skeptical of the time line and the arrival of this BRAVE NEW WORLD to appear for two reasons: 1) with the economy the way it is, and 2) with OWNERSHIP of current and potentially future platforms for distribution winding up in fewer and fewer hands. Again, I don't see Congress addressing this either. They are quite happy with Clear Channel, Infinity, and other soul-less entities owning ALL of the best radio signals in every market. Changing ownership rules would sure make ending CPB a whole lot easier to swallow.

On the points raised in the previous paragraph, I hope you are addressing them in your on-going conversations with the office of the Senator from Colorado.

Crusty
Crusty

I guess Bob Scheinkein really doesn't understand how NPR funding works, does he? Otherwise, he might not be so happy.

+++++

From NPR's Audie Cornish:

"Two percent of NPR's revenue comes through competitive grants from federal agencies — in the commerce and education departments, for example. But [NPR] member station fees make up another 40 percent of revenue. And the House bill would bar stations from using any federal funds for NPR."

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetw...

+++++

So, if NPR member stations cannot us CPB funds to pay NPR for programming, and CPR (as an NPR member station) has its budget reduced by the amount of CPB funds, then not only will CPR have to make up for CPB funds it loses, it will probably also have to pay higher NPR dues in order to make up for dues that other stations cannot afford to pay NPR. And, if NPR's budget is reduced drastically, doesn't it stand to reason that the quantity and quality of NPR programming could be affected; thus affecting CPR too?

In all likelihood, this Congressional measure probably will not pass. However, it would have been a more informative story if professional propagandist Bob Scheinkein had managed to mention some actual facts in his conversation with Michael Roberts. So much for the honesty, depth, breath, fairness and balance of public radio, eh? Please, public radio, don't confuse your listeners with ACTUAL FACTS!

davebarnes
davebarnes

"it will be akin to ending Federal support for the 1,000 rural electric coops around the country"

Why do we have taxpayer dollars to support rural electric co-ops?

Crusty
Crusty

Even tiny KGNU won something. Maybe it's a function of CPR not submitting items for awards from shows other than from Colorado Matters? I mean, CPR does newscasts right? Public Affairs shows, right? How is it that a NEWS station cannot win those awards. I know they don't do a regular public affairs show, but don't they do specials from time to time? Don't they do the public service announcements or their (public radio) equivalents? Do they do community service campaigns or their (public radio) equivalents? They have contents. I know, because they are popular during pledge drives. What about those? They also promote; abeit, most of it is SELF promotion. Awards there? Anyone? I guess they could compete in the personality category, but since Ryan Warner is the public voice (face) of CPR, then maybe they can't win that one. And, CPR probably cannot win advertiser awards, NOT because they don't have advertising, but because their underwriting spots are boring -- both by regulation and by design. CPR dumped their plan for a talk show, so they will never win that one. Dan Drayer probably could have nailed that one down for CPR, but alas, he has moved on. CPR could NEVER win a sports report because most public radio types think sports reporting is a waste of time -- unless, of course, a Colorado professional team makes the playoffs. Then, they hop on the wagon. I am at a loss for why CPR cannot win an award for a feature. But perhaps since they have so few actual reporters, that is outside their wheelhouse. *Note to CPR Staff: "wheelhouse" is a sports term; specifically, baseball. Now, I know that KVOD has dayparted shows. Why haven't their classical music shows won any awards? Again, is anyone at CPR submitting show examples for review? What about and image marketing award? Could someone suggest the CPR website? I mean, it's kinda busy with stuff, and not terribly interesting in its design, but compared to most dog shit commercial websites, it looks like a piece of modern art. Sure, I am hard on CPR. But, with that budget, that debt, that staff, that history of doing news, and that amount of staff, what have they EVER won in terms of awards.Seriously, does all of that QUANTITY net any objective measure of QUALITY? What do public radio types pride themselves about? What do they use to persuade listeners to give. Don't they tell listeners that it's about depth, and breadth and context? If so, they besides repeating NPR and CPR's sheer mass, what does it offer Colorado -- besides statewide and local distribution of content MOST of their listeners can get from the Internet?

Crusty
Crusty

@Schwetty Balls,

Meanwhile, KUNC – one of the smaller NPR outlets in the Denver metro area that does BOTH news and music on ONE station – receives 4 MAJOR MARKET NEWS awards from the Colorado Broadcasters Association.

http://www.coloradobroadcaster...

1. 2nd Place – 8 am newscast2. 1st Place – Best News Feature Report or Series: Sergeant Lynch’s War – Grace Hood3. 2nd Place – Best News Feature Report or Series: Athletes in Tandem – Grace Hood4. 1st Place – Best Single Event News Coverage: Boulder Wildfire Most Destructive in State’s History.

What does Colorado Public Radio – the Colorado public radio blowtorch – net? ZERO! NADA! BUPKIS!

But wait! if you include the Special Olympics category reserved for PUBLIC RADIO ONLY (ALL MARKETS), CPR nets 4 awards, just like KUNC. Hooray! Everybody wins! Even CPR!

1. 1st Place – Best Mini-Documentary of Series: Biography of a Bill2. 2nd Place – Dollars for Docs3. 1st Place – Colorado Matters “Deaf Jazz Singer Mandy Harey” & “Outgoing House Speaker”4. 2nd Place – Colorado Matters “Fourmile Canyon Fire”

Seriously, if any listener heard EVERY part of that never-ending, multi-part “Biography of a Bill” Colorado Public Radio did (besides the hapless souls at CPR), then you have my condolences. Seriously, I think they may have 5 or 6 more parts in the can to use this year – so watch out during pledge drive.

At least School House Rock’s version of “I’m Just a Bill” was creative and interesting. And it was just three minutes long, written in 1975! Does the “C” in “CPR” stand for “Civics?” Here is a link to School House Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Jeez, CPR must not think very highly of their mostly rich, most white, mostly educated audience that it thinks they require an explanation of legislative basics. Or maybe their audience research shows that in order to appeal to younger listeners (and future subscribers) they need to explain 7th grade social studies. I’m not sure about that. But I do know that the CPR producers absolutely LOVE “day-in-the-life” stories told in pathetically ponderous public radio prose. So, you can expect a lot more of this from CPR in the future.

Yearly Budget: $10 millionCombined Debt: $13 million4 measly the Colorado Broadcasters Association Awards: PatheticNot having to listen to CPR: Priceless

Schwetty Balls
Schwetty Balls

Obviously, it takes a great deal of organizational bloat to produce a 30 minute program five days a week.

CPR produces nothing I want to hear. I don't even listen to them to get their delivery of NPR or BBC programming. I can stream NPR and BBC on the Internet. No need to get bombarded by pledge drives.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Confluence Park, another fascinating post -- and a deserving choice for an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks for writing.

Confluence Park
Confluence Park

The way I understand the intent of House Republicans, stations can pay NPR with non-federal dollars (local business underwriting, listener-support dollars, State or Local Government dollars, private foundations, etc.). Larger market stations have that flexibility, because they have more potential businesses, listeners, etc., than small market stations.

Smaller-budgeted stations, which depend far more on CPB dollars to operate, will have a difficult time paying NPR for programs, unless NPR cuts them a break. That isn't likely, given the make-up of the NPR Board (where major market stations are represented very well). Sad to say, but some of the major market players stand to benefit from smaller station problems like this, especially if they are looking for more rural stations for their trophy wall.

Hopefully, this legislation will NOT become law...but not before various players in the public radio system show their real colors on questions of diversity, civility, LOCALISM, etc.

Confluence Park
Confluence Park

Without Federal support, rural America would still be stepped in 19th century drudgery -- U.S.-funded highways, and electricity across the "fruited plain" would be something the younger generations would no longer take for granted. Private utilities left rural electricification off their radar; there just aren't enough customers-per-mile to make it work for them and their stockholders. The REA system is one of the more successful NEW DEAL programs. It was created at the insistence of a young Texas Congressman named Lyndon Johnson in 1936.

As an aside: The REA system of electric coops provides electricity for ALL MAJOR SKI LIFTS across the Western U.S. While towns like Jackson, Aspen, Telluride and Steamboat had their own municipal power companies to provide electricity in towns, their grids did not extend to adjacent forest land areas on the outskirts for the ski slopes. FEDERALLY-SUBSIDIZED SKI SLOPES has a strange ring to it, eh?

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Crusty, thanks for noting KUNC's awards; I hadn't gotten around to posting them. Strong take as well.

Confluence Park
Confluence Park

one correction. It was a "seller's market" when CPR sinked its' teeth into all of that debt. They paid 4.2 million for 1340 AM, and today they can't interest a buyer at $800,000.

Crusty
Crusty

Re: "Smaller-budgeted stations, which depend far more on CPB dollars to operate, will have a difficult time paying NPR for programs, unless NPR cuts them a break. That isn't likely, given the make-up of the NPR Board (where major market stations are represented very well)."

Response: It isn't likely for reasons OTHER than Board membership . Large percentages of revenue that the CPB grants to smaller NPR stations gets channeled DIRECTLY back to NPR to pay for NPR programming. Where NPR has been coy all along, by suggesting they could do without CPB funding, is in transparently accounting the recycled revenue they receive INDIRECTLY from the CPB, as Audie Cornish's report reveals. Would Ron Schiller had been so cavalier suggesting NPR could survive without CPB funding if he really understood how much direct AND indirect fuding NPR receives? I doubt it. Would Bob Schenkein been so upbeat about CPR's financial position (setting aside his silence about CPR's $13 million debt hole) if he understood that a zero-out NPR line item in the CPB budget could decrease CPR's direct revenue by $700K (give or take) AND drive up the cost of acquiring programming from NPR? Somebody had better give Bob the Bozo a class about assets and liabilities AND accounts payable and accounts receivable, if this clown is going to serve as the mouthpiece the public radio blowtorch. And, I thought Sean Nethery was a boob. This guy makes Herr Nethery sound like a friggin' genius.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Interesting perspective, Crusty. Thanks for sharing it.

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...