Sequester cuts being felt in college radio


MoneyThe Federal sequestration has brought about budget cuts for University of New Mexico’s KUNM-FM, “New Mexico Public Radio.” The school’s The Daily Lobo reports KUNM lost $12,000 as a result of sequestration, which went into effect 3/1.

According to a message from the congressionally-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting to all its funding recipients, including KUNM, the sequester cuts an estimated 5% of the station’s funding. KUNM GM Richard Towne told the paper that when the station anticipated the cuts in the fall, he made sure it didn’t have to furlough employees or make programming changes: “So we took our spending plans and said, ‘What can we either do without or postpone?’”

Some of these projects included an upgrade to the server room and an automatic door opener to accommodate people with disabilities.

Listeners supported KUNM during its fundraising week April 6-12. A listener who wished to remain anonymous offered to pay half the sequestration losses, or $6,000. Towne said the listener stipulated that other listeners would have to match that donation, which they did in 90 minutes on 4/15.

The fundraising goal was $290,000, but it fell short with a total of $269,659.

The station now has until June to meet its goal by soliciting donations via mail. Towne said funding for public radio has gone up or down 1 percent every year since 1996, but sequestration cuts were a more dramatic reduction than he is used to.

See The Daily Logo story here.

RBR-TVBR observation: It’s good that KUNM anticipated the cuts and was able to keep everyone’s jobs in tact. But one of the things that was cut was a planned server upgrade. The trickle-down effect of sequestration in CPB-funded radio and TV stations will find its way to equipment manufacturers and software vendors—as if the economy hasn’t already done enough damage in that arena.