Now: Fortunately for public broadcasting lovers, the cuts proposed to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which underwrites at least some of NPR and PBS broadcasts, never occurred.
"The funding from the CPB never decreased too much," says Ben Singleton, current station manager for WNKU who's worked at the station for eight years. "The public was in an uproar (over the cuts). Then: In 1995, the public broadcasting organizations in Greater Cincinnati were facing proposed federal budget cuts, much to the dismay of local station managers and the viewing and listening public. CityBeat rallied the troops and let Jim King (WVXU-FM), Dave Arnold (WNKU-FM), Wayne Goodwin (WCET Channel 48) and Ann Santen (WGUC-FM) sound off about the future of public radio and public broadcasting. King was pessimistic: "I predict the demise of NPR," he said then. But Arnold saw the proposed funding cuts as challenges: "WNKU is the youngest public radio station in the market," he said. "These challenges represent an opportunity for us. ... We have to have a music format that sounds more commercial, although it really isn't. We have to position WNKU to attract new listeners and supporters." (Issue of Aug. 3, 1995)
Now: Fortunately for public broadcasting lovers, the cuts proposed to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which underwrites at least some of NPR and PBS broadcasts, never occurred. "The funding from the CPB never decreased too much," says Ben Singleton, current station manager for WNKU who's worked at the station for eight years. "The public was in an uproar (over the cuts). They launched the 'Save Big Bird' campaign, and the funding stayed consistent."
Not that operating a public radio station is ever an easy endeavor, financially speaking. Singleton says that roughly 60 percent of his operating budget comes from listeners and businesses, while 10 percent comes from the CPB. The remaining tab is picked up by the university. "Since we don't rely on commercial sponsorships," he explains, "it's important for listeners to pay for what they use."
Singleton knows that on-air fund-raising campaigns that break into programming aren't a whole lot of fun for the listener. But he says that they're necessary. "We try to limit the number of times we (campaign on air)," he says. "But since some people only tune in to one program a week, we have to have a full, seven-day funding campaign."
Federal funding questions behind them for the foreseeable future, Singleton and other station managers now have technological advances in radio to thank for sleepless nights and new challenges. "We are concerned," he says. "There are a lot of new things on the horizon. Satellite radio is going to be a big competitor."
Lately, that focus on what's happening in the area has resulted in new programming. "We're very excited about Studio 89," Singleton explains, "Where we feature local bands and acts on Monday nights. We're always looking to provide unique programming."
Sounds like another opportunity waiting to happen.
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