Larry Mantle |

What would the future of public radio hold without federal funding?




Several prominent Republicans have called for public radio’s defunding, following NPR’s decision to fire Juan Williams.  Tuesday morning on AirTalk we asked listeners whether they’d prefer KPCC and NPR keep Corporation for Public Broadcasting federal funding or cut the taxpayer cord.

Early on, our calls were overwhelmingly in favor of the status quo.  The most cited argument was that public radio is distinctly different from commercially-supported media, and that it’s vital to keep NPR part of the media landscape.  Several of those listeners also bristled at the idea that taxpayers shouldn’t fund public radio, given that most Americans don’t listen.  They cited numerous examples of government funded programs that are considered part of the public good, even though most people don’t use them.

However, later in the segment, we started hearing from listeners who thought NPR exhibited bias and should have its funding pulled.  They also expressed confidence that listeners would pick up the slack.

That’s what I’ve wondered – would listeners fill that gap if KPCC lost its federal funding?  It’s only between five and six percent of our budget, but still a significant amount of money.  We’d have to identify some way to raise those dollars, given that we couldn’t cut back our spending without cutting our coverage.

Tuesday morning, I was talking with our CEO, Bill Davis, about what KPCC would be like without federal funding.  Bill wondered if there were any libertarian members of our audience who are both opposed to federal funding and having the means to establish an endowment that would replace those dollars.  That’s a good question.  If you fit that description, please let us know!