KDLL loses show, some money in funding cuts

Kenai station’s community-funded status helps it suffer only minor pain from state, federal government cutbacks

Posted: Tuesday, August 29, 2006

As the saying goes, nothing is certain in life but death and taxes. Allen Auxier, station manager at KDLL Pickle Hill Public Broadcasting in Kenai, would add the yearly decrease in federal and state funding of public broadcasting to that list of inevitabilities.

“Neither the state nor the feds are ever going to give us all the money they gave us last year,” Auxier said.

In this year’s installment of this decades-old trend, the Alaska Public Radio Network and Alaska Public Media, the nonprofit company that owns and operates Anchorage’s public television and radio stations, are struggling to align rising expenses with decreasing funding.

That means cuts to jobs and programming.

APRN is cutting “AK,” a two-hour weekly Alaska lifestyle program that is distributed to 23 public radio stations statewide — including KDLL at 91.9 FM.

“We are going to lose ‘AK,’ just because they’re not producing it anymore because of the funding cuts, which is too bad because it’s a really good statewide news magazine,” Auxier said. “I know they’ve been trying to have a little feature from different places around the state. I will miss hearing about those places that otherwise wouldn’t be heard from.”

Auxier said the station is considering replacing “AK,” which airs at 3 p.m. Sundays, with “St. Paul Sundays” a syndicated classical music show from St. Paul, Minn.

Aside from the loss of “AK,” government funding levels won’t have much impact on KDLL, although the central Kenai Peninsula station will indeed see decreased funds.

“Of course. Always,” Auxier said.

But government funding isn’t a big piece of the station’s financial pie — so a little less of not much doesn’t amount to a big deal for KDLL.

The station doesn’t fit the requirements for being in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting government funding net, so it doesn’t receive money directly from the federal government. But since KDLL cooperates with KBBI in Homer, the two stations together are eligible for some government money. For instance, one stipulation for government funding is that a station have five full-time employees. KDLL has just one — Auxier — but KDLL and KBBI combined do have five, so they qualify for some money that way.

“KBBI is able to get an elevated allocation from CPB because they cooperate with KDLL,” Auxier said. “Together we get a little bit of extra funding.”

The two stations get about one-fifth of their funding from the federal government, according to Auxier. That money goes to the state, which then allocates funding to all Alaska public radio and television systems, including KBBI and KDLL.

Another small portion of funding comes from grants, charitable gaming and enhanced public service announcements, where nonprofit groups pay to have a 30-second ad air at prime broadcasting times.

“The rest of our money comes from local membership and program underwriting by companies, corporations and local business,” Auxier said.

Community support is the backbone of KDLL, from underwriting by big corporations like ConocoPhillips and dozens of local small businesses, to its legion of dedicated listeners who put their money where their ears are during membership drives.

That’s the way Auxier likes it.

“I would just as soon not have to worry about government funding,” he said. “I would love to have it all community funded. It’s community radio.”

Since it isn’t completely community-funded, Auxier said he’ll probably seek more underwriting to make up for the decrease in government funding this year. He’s also looking forward to the year’s big fundraisers, including the KDLL Art and Music Festival held on summer solstice every year, and Oktoberfest coming up Sept. 16 at the Kenai Elks Lodge with live music from Anchorage’s Die Alaska Blaskapelle band.

A membership drive also is planned for October. Auxier was tight-lipped about the details, though.

“We’re going to try something completely different this year, but I’m not going to tell you what,” he said.

Apparently there’s only one way to find out: Stay tuned.

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