Dear KALW listeners:
The Trump administration has now put forward its first proposed budget. It calls for deep cuts to many domestic programs, including the elimination of funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the primary means of federal support for public media.
In the U.S., public broadcasting is decentralized. CPB and NPR and PBS don’t own stations -- like KALW, most public broadcasters are independent and locally-controlled.
However, public broadcasting is a system. We share ideas and resources and programming. When local news becomes national news, reporters at stations in one place become resources for listeners everywhere. And we share a commitment to high-quality news, educational and cultural programming that is independent of commercial pressure, and available to everyone.
Today, nearly 1,300 public radio stations and more than 350 public TV stations serve communities in every state. These are institutions of public education and information that make our society better and our democracy stronger. This system is the legacy of 50 years of collective effort beginning in 1967, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, which in turn created the CPB. And that legacy is seriously threatened by the cuts proposed in the Trump budget.
Loss of federal funding would be a significant blow for KALW. Our current grant from CPB is $191,615 - about 8.5% of our annual revenues. In addition, the station relies on the CPB for satellite access, music use rights, and other essential resources.
If federal support were eliminated, we would turn to listeners to make up the difference – and I believe this community would stand up to the challenge and keep KALW growing and strong.
However, there are many stations – most of them in rural and less-affluent parts of this country – that are far more reliant on CPB support than we are. In many of these communities, the local public station is the sole broadcast outlet with the capacity to provide community news and information. Without federal funding, these stations will have to make drastic cuts to their services, and many of them will go off the air altogether.
That would be a huge loss for people who already feel poorly-served by the media. And in a time when our country is divided politically and culturally, it would also be a great loss for our nation.
The potential for the elimination of federal funding for the CPB is real, but it is not inevitable. The Trump blueprint is just the first step in the budgeting process, and we know from experience that most powerful force in defense of public broadcasting is the voice of the people who depend on it.
I encourage you to join the Protect My Public Media campaign – sign the petition opposing the proposed cuts, and spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and in conversations with your friends, family, and coworkers.
Together, we have built public media, and together, we will defend it.
Matt Martin, General Manager