Potential Federal cuts could imperil community broadcasters

This article is a part of Anthony Rimel’s continuing coverage of Eugene-based community radio station KRVM.  View the first article and second article for more detail about the station.

The music played on KRVM on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. is the broad mix of adult album alternative that most people would expect from a community radio station.  Announcements about Greenhill Humane Society‘s events mix with music by artists like Bob Dylan.  What makes KRVM different from other stations is the voices announcing the songs -because they belong to local high school students.

KRVM, a Eugene area community radio station and full-service, full-time broadcaster, is operated out of Sheldon High School.  While evening and weekend broadcasts are mostly done by adult volunteers, the weekday disc jockeys are students at the school.  The students don’t pick the music, but they learn the basics of radio production and broadcasting.

But community radio stations like KRVM, which is owned by the 4J school district, are at risk of losing federal funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because of proposals in the US congress to end funding for public broadcasting.  House Resolution 1, which has been passed by the Republican controlled House of Representatives, would remove all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Ken Martin, the program director at KRVM, says that the loss of funding “could be the bullet that puts us down.”

“I can’t imagine what our community would be like without it.”

Martin says that public radio stations provide a unique benefit to the community by broadcasting locally oriented music and announcements about community events.  He adds that local programming and Native American content like KRVM’s Indian Time helps to build the community.

“Jivin’” Johnny Etheredge, a former station employee and current volunteer DJ, says that commercial stations don’t provide the local content that community radio does because commercial stations are mostly nationally syndicated with almost no local content.

“You can go across the country and never change the station, and you’ll hear the same 100 songs on a loop.”

Commercial radio stations make their programming decisions at the national level, so they only feature major names.  Stations like KRVM are often the only way for lesser-known artists to get their music on the air.

Oregon Representatives Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer both voted against the measure.

Blumenauer said in an open letter to his congressional peers that “Cutting CPB funding would save Americans less than half a cent a day, but would eliminate for many their one remaining source of locally focused and informed programming, and would take away the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), considered by the public to be the second-best use of taxpayer dollars, outranked only by defense spending.”

According to 17oMillionAmercans.org nearly half of all Americans use public radio at least once a month.  Despite the popularity of public media, some legislators, like Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, still say cuts are a necessity.  DeMint argues in a statement on his website that public broadcasters are popular enough to support themselves on private funding.

However, Bobbie Cirel, development director at KRVM, says that the 20% of the station’s funding that comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be “hard to make up.”

“We still want to keep going, we want to keep educating kids and broadcasting the variety of programming that we bring people and we want to keep expanding our coverage area. “

About anthonyrimel

I graduated from OSU in 2008 with a degree in International Business and I am currently working on a second bachelors degree, this time in Journalism. In the time since I graduated I worked a variety of temporary positions in the corporate world. After a long and windy path I settled into an IT position at SUPERVALU where I worked on a variety of communications projects. I quickly began to realize that I was a lot more interested in the communications side of my job than I was about business or IT. Photography and writing have always been passions of mine so I decided that going back to school wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I’ve had a few people ask me why I want to get into Journalism in times where the industry is struggling as much as it is. Newspapers are dying out, TV viewership and book sales are down and the industry is shedding jobs like mad. While this is certainly true and it does seem like a difficult time to be entering the industry I also see a lot of opportunity out there. This generation of students is the one that gets to go out into the world and be pioneers that will shape the future landscape of media. The old industries are dying out or drastically changing but people are consuming more media than ever. While it is certainly a difficult environment it is also a time of tremendous opportunity. Students today are the ones that are going to be inventing new ways to bring the world it’s news and being involved in that is tremendously exciting to me! I’m here to write about Journalism, talk about my current experiences as a student traveler and observer of the world.
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1 Response to Potential Federal cuts could imperil community broadcasters

  1. Pingback: Jiving with Johnny – a photo essay | Reporting 1 Blog

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