Comment of the Day

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:

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 !!!

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts