Public Radio General Managers Urge Congress To Keep Funding NPR

Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

Nine public radio general managers today issued a joint letter urging Congress to vote down H.R. 1076, the proposal to stop federal funding for NPR.

The letter, being sent to an undisclosed number of House members, is below:

As General Managers of Public Radio stations that serve millions of Americans in communities large and small, urban and rural and; As Producers of local, regional and national content aired by stations throughout the nation committed to telling the evolving story of America, its proud history, and its committed citizens;

We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the House legislation that would prohibit stations from using any Federal funds to pay for national programming and would eliminate CPB's Program Fund.

By prohibiting the use of Federal funds in any national programming, and in particular, by eliminating the CPB Program Fund, millions of Americans will be deprived of critical national and international news, information and cultural programming that cannot be found elsewhere. Local public radio stations will no longer reliably provide the community information and context so necessary to cities and towns challenged by change and faltering economies.

Institutions and projects at risk include:

- Radio Bilingüe's national program service, public radio's principal source of Latino programming.

- Koahnik Public Media' Native Voice 1, public radio's principal source of Native American programming.

- Youth Media, the California-based media network of young audio and video producers and a key source of a youth voice in the mass media.

- The Public Insight Network, American Public media's expanding project to bring citizen experts into public radio journalism.

- Independent producers who depend upon the Program Fund for money to support production of series such as StoryCorps and This I Believe.

- Independent organizations dedicated to innovation, training, and excellence in journalism such as the Public Radio Exchange and the Association of Independents in Radio.

The loss of the CPB Program Fund would cut producers off from a critical source of seed funding, in many cases the only source. Many projects fueled by the fund have gone on to attract large audiences, become financially self-sufficient, and represent the best in American journalism and programming.

Programs such as Radiolab, This American Life, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, The Tavis Smiley Show, Marketplace, and The World were all undertaken with the support of CPB, support that triggered other grants and funding.

Each production is, in essence, a small business in need of modest investment to ramp up on the way to fiscal independence.

Prohibiting local stations from using federal funds to acquire or produce local / national programming will interfere with the operating independence fundamental to the American's public radio system.

Removing our ability to acquire or produce programming would create a cascade effect that could ultimately undermine the entire public radio financial model.

Thousands of jobs will be eliminated and programs and entire services will be cancelled. We will lose listeners, members, and donors and the private money they contribute to keep us healthy and functioning.

These funding restrictions will devastate the public radio economy and eviscerate local stations' ability to attract audience, develop stable local revenue bases and, most importantly, continue to produce local programming including local/regional news.

Sincerely yours,

David Isay, Founder and President, StoryCorps

Jeff Nelson, Managing Director, Public Strategy, Minnesota Public Radio

Torey Malatia, President and CEO, Chicago Public Media

Alisa Miller, President and CEO, Public Radio International (PRI)

Hugo Morales, Executive Director, Radio Bilingüe

Sue Schardt, Executive Director, Association of Independents in Radio, Inc. (AIR)

Jake Shapiro, CEO, Public Radio Exchange (PRX)

Laura Walker, President and CEO, New York Public Radio

Steve Yasko, General Manager, WTMD - Baltimore

Public Radio General Managers & Producers of Public Radio Programming

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