Guest Editorial, August 21-24, 2010
The catch phrase around town now is "locally grown." We’re encouraged to grow more of our own food, or at least consume food others grow locally.
Community radio is another great locally grown product. For thirty years KPCW has nourished our audience with local news and events, great music and live broadcasts from football fields to the Deer Valley stage. KPCW connects Park City to all that’s happening and gives everyone a voice on the station. In fact, that’s our new tagline — "Your Community Voice."
The Park Record put it best in an editorial this July noting our 30th anniversary: "These days it is impossible to imagine the city without KPCW." The Record added, "KPCW’s future is filled with challenges, and more than ever, the station is dependent on your financial support and feedback."
Upon becoming KPCW general manager in May, I asked listeners to contact me with their likes, dislikes and suggestions. I heard from many, and the loud-and-clear message was that KPCW is "our" station and should remain true to its local roots. Toward that end, I extended Randy Barton’s afternoon air time by two hours, giving him more time for local guests and to play "locally grown" music from artists who live among us.
We have other plans to bring the focus back locally. The 9 to 10 a.m. hour used to be devoted to public affairs. We will reclaim the time slot this fall, with five themed programs touching on the lifestyles of Park City the way we play, work, invest, and entertain ourselves. We’ll have more to announce about that shortly.
These changes are meant to bring KPCW back to its roots as your locally grown and supported station. But to be frank, we’re facing tough realities as this recession drags deep into its second year. The underwriting revenue from local businesses has declined by 30 percent. Foundation grants have declined or are no longer offered. And most disheartening to those of us who work here (at salaries below industry averages), the income from pledge drives has plummeted by more than 50 percent in three years. Coupled with underwriting and grant declines, we’ve taken a tremendous hit. And at the same time, NPR has raised our subscription rates 22 percent!
Our once-twelve-person staff is down to eight (and three part timers). They and our many outstanding volunteers keep us on the air, serving our community, fulfilling our mission, but doing so under tremendous financial stress. I’ve cut the operating budget as deep as possible without affecting programming. Still, the current path is unsustainable and has to change this fiscal year.
Next Monday we go on the air with our summer pledge drive. We need your support more than ever. If you’ve stopped giving because of hard times, you have to judge for yourself if you can spare some small amount for the service we provide. If you’ve stopped giving because you’re upset about issues in the past, remember that your contribution supports the future.
KPCW is the nonprofit that supports all other nonprofits. Ask any of more than 100 non-profit leaders in town how they get the word out about their fund-raisers, events and programs and KPCW will be front and center. And while other nonprofits can, regrettably, dial back their services in the current poor fund-raising environment, consider that KPCW is a federally licensed facility. We have a license to protect and we do not have the option of cutting back our mission or our broadcasting.
The sky is not falling, but two years into the global financial crisis, skies are threatening. Our pledge drive next week offers our best hope of getting back to funding levels that will allow us not only to continue to serve you, but serve you better. The staff of KPCW works for you because we have a passion to communicate and serve. We hope you will recognize that effort with your support next week, and all year.
Larry Warren is general manager of KPCW-FM Community Radio.
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Park City leaders next week plan to showcase a City Hall workforce or otherwise restricted housing development in Old Town, highlighting one of what is expected to be a series of significant municipal projects in coming years.