Spring Letter from the General Manager

Mar 2, 2017

Dear Friends of Public Radio Tulsa, 

First of all, thank you for listening to Public Radio Tulsa; more people are joining you in northeast Oklahoma! In our recent Fall ratings book, both KWGS and KWTU saw major jumps in audience. KWGS grew by nearly 17% to over 82,000 listeners a week, and KWTU grew by 28% to over 31,000 listeners as compared to Fall 2015. Usually, when one station is up, the other shows a decline, but we’ve been seeing growth in both station’s audience over the past 6 months. All told, over 100,000 unique listeners listen to Public Radio Tulsa each week. Thank you again, and keep telling your friends about public radio!

We kicked off our first "Give and Take” event last month to an overwhelming response.  Over 100 listeners crowded into Lefty’s on Greenwood to hear from freshmen legislators Carol Bush and Monroe Nichols.  We’re working now to set up the next Give and Take on Education funding later this month, and will shoot you an email when the details are finalized.

Finally, I want to take a moment to address the future of federal funding for public broadcasting. 

Everywhere I go, I’m approached by friends and acquaintances, with a tentative “How are you doing?”, which quickly evolves to “How is the station doing?”  With the change of Presidential administration, there has been talk of funding cuts to, or “privatization” of, the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. CPB provides the federal funding to both public radio and television stations throughout the country.  This year, Public Radio Tulsa received approximately $140,000 from CPB, or a little over 11% of our total budget. Out of the $400 million allocated for public television and radio stations by CPB, roughly three quarters goes to television and the remaining quarter goes to public radio. So if there were cuts, it would hurt public radio, but would be devastating to public television, especially OETA, which has seen draconian cuts at the state level for several years.

So far, despite rumblings, there has been no overt threat to CPB. There are a couple pieces of good news in all of this:  First, CPB is one of the few government agencies which is ‘forward funded' (this year’s appropriation was approved last year), so this year’s allocation to PRT is safe.  Also encouraging is the statement of Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole, who heads the Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies, which handles funding for CPB, as well as the National Endowment of the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In an interview, Cole said he believes that CPB would withstand a challenge as “there is a strong constituency for public broadcasting in both the House and Senate”.  Cole has been an advocate for public broadcasting and is a member of our sister station KGOU in Norman.

That said, we will follow the activities on Capitol Hill closely. The Administration’s proposed budget for FY18 should be coming soon. I correspond with NPR’s Vice-President for Representation regularly, and I will keep you informed about the status of federal funding for public broadcasting.

Cheers for now,

Rich Fisher
General Manager