by Scott Hall
"Programming on KAXE is made possible by our listener-members, our largest source of funding..." We say it out loud, on the air, every day. The three main sources of income for KAXE are listeners, local businesses, and federal and state money. Most of the federal money comes through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and is based in great part on the amount of support listeners and local businesses give to KAXE. It seems like an odd business model, but it seems odd mainly because it's so visible. It's a line item clear to see in our annual budget, and even in the name: public broadcasting. However, public money is a big part of every private business plan too - in the tax code, utilities, transportation, and so on. But in the private sector it's mostly out of sight. For all small businesses, public and private, it's always a hustle to make it work.
The flap over NPR's firing of news analyst Juan Williams has intensified calls from conservatives to cut federal funding for the CPB, even though very little CPB money goes directly to NPR. Cutting CPB funding would
hurt radio and TV stations much more than NPR.
* * *
"Reagan proved deficits don't matter." - Vice-President Dick Cheney to Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill in 2002
There are plenty of reasons to doubt if the hysterical rhetoric over the deficit before the election was warranted. Deficits do matter and we should be concerned about the federal deficit, but retiring Senator Judd Gregg, Republican from New Hampshire, says if Congress takes the hysteria seriously it could cause great harm. Gregg is a member of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility. In an interview with Steve Inskeep last Tuesday on Morning Edition, he said it will take 15 to 30 years to bring the deficit down, and to do so in five years or less would be "harmful to the economy and people" and cause "significant economic disruption" to our economic recovery. Gregg said there is no question that the deficit will go up more before it comes down and there will be no surplus in the foreseeable future. This is a far cry from the election rhetoric on the deficit. I doubt if there are many Democrats - even Blue Dogs - who would disagree with Gregg. Opponents of public broadcasting will use the deficit scare to renew their efforts to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. KAXE's manager, Maggie Montgomery, estimates that each Minnesotan pays about 7.3 cents a year for KAXE's piece of the public broadcasting pie. To see what money for public broadcast buys read the rest of Maggie's analysis.
* from "Radio Nowhere" by Bruce Springsteen
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