Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Your "Local" Public Radio Station.

Lost and Found Sound is great. It is the National Public Radio (NPR) show that finds and broadcasts old radio and radio show pieces which have been lost or forgotten.

In keeping with that theme, lost and found, or rather just found, look what I found! These are the Form 990 files (financial documents) for The Classical Public Radio Network otherwise known as CPRN. It is the joint venture (LLC) between Colorado Public Radio and KUSC (in Los Angeles, California) to produce and distribute classical music to its listeners.

Here are the links to the financial documents: Form 990, CPRN 2003, Form 990, CPRN 2004, and Form 990, CPRN 2005. At Colorado Public Radio Blog, we just thought our readers would like to know some more details about their "local, community" radio station.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's your beef here?! NPR content played on CPR is not "local" or "community" oriented, but you don't mind that.

Do you think that CPR and KUSC should not have formed this joint venture?

What is your argument?

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Anon:

I have no "beefs" or "arguments." I am simply supplying information to the public.

I have no opinion about the venture.

JJ

Anonymous said...

sure you do... you imply argument (or stance) when you write, "we just thought our readers would like to know some more details about their 'local,community' radio station", implying that CPR, by entering into this agreement is not "local,community" radio anymore. The quotes around "local, community" make the implication...even the TITLE of the post is alluding to something else going on, like KUSC is somehow invloved in the contect selected for our community boradcasts or something.

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Anon:

Of course, CPR is local. It is, after all, licensed (multiply) throughout the state. Thus, it is also "statewide." To some degree, it is also not local. For those public radio listeners who listen to local (and yes) national talent, it might be important for them to know the degree to which their local station is "beyond" local; that its contractual obligations might focus it elsewhere.

Is KUSC involved in " . . . select[ing] content for Colorado's communities broadcasts?" I don't know. If so, I'd find that interesting. And, I think the public and public radio listeners in Colorado would find that interesting too. Maybe I'll check into that. Thanks for the lead.

JJ

Anonymous said...

indeed! let me know what you find out...

though, i am skeptical that anyone would allow this sort of thing to happen. If it DOES, it might even be bigger than an individual leaving the board.

Jimmy James Jr. said...

CPRB Readers:

Perhaps some of our more astute public radio listeners can shed some light on this subject.

JJ

Cletus said...

I don't know.

Anonymous said:

even the TITLE of the post is alluding to something else going on, like KUSC is somehow invloved in the contect selected for our community boradcasts or something.

What does "our" refer to? Does anonymous work for CPR? If so, perhaps he/she could clarify the CPR position regarding this joint venture.

And speaking of local, what's with "KCFR Presents?" That sounds, or implies, that it is a show that KCFR produces locally. I don't think CPR produces this program at all, it sounds like recycled programming from a source other than KCFR. Like I said, I don't know. Someone with inside information may be able to clarify.

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Cletus:

Good points! "KCFR Presents" (KCFR being part the Colorado Public Radio empire) is not produced by KCFR, CPR, or any other local or statewide acronym.

The documentary-style "show" is simply a mixed bag of other public radio content from National Public Radio or from one of its member stations. For example, "KCFR Presents" recently "broadcasted" a show called "RadioLab."

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/

It is actually "produced" by WYNC in New York. So much for the "presents" part.

But hey, what is a WORD, right? How about "KCFR Distributes?" What does that say about "local" content?

Thanks again for the comments,

JJ

Jimmy James Jr. said...

CPRB Readers:

For those CPRB Readers who may be sensitive to my use of the word "empire" to describe CPR, I am using this definition found online at Dictionary.Com.

"A powerful and important enterprise or holding of large scope that is controlled by a single person, family, or group of associates."

Regards,

JJ

Anonymous said...

"Our" refers to the word "their" in regards to the sentence "their, 'local, community' radio station."

So, I could also say, "Hey! I'd like to know more about our local, community radio station," and all this would imply was that I was a) part of the listening public or b) part of the group of people reading this blog.

Oh, and in keeping with the grammatical discourse above, I'll offer the following:

presents, v.
To bring before the public:present a play.

To offer for observation, examination, or consideration; show or display.

"KCFR Presents" should in no way imply KCFR Produces. So in essence, yeah, KCFR Distributes. But it says it right there! Perhaps you are inferring something where you shouldn't be.

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for participating in "our" blog. You are keeping the discussion lively; which is great! We (all) could use a bit more grammar assistance too, so keep coming back for that.

I guess all the shows that Colorado Public Radio "broadcasts" could be called "KCFR Presents" then. So what REALLY distinguishes this program from the rest of the distributed content?

Anonymous, Cletus, anyone, Bueller, anyone?

JJ

Jimmy James Jr. said...

CPRB Readers,

The CPRN financial documents have been quite popular--several downloads so far. If you'd like more of these from other public radio stations, including Colorado Public Radio, please check the site. These items are posted under the title "Did You Ever Wonder?"

JJ

Cletus said...

I won't argue with the technical definition of the word "presents".

However, if a listener like myself hears the name "KCFR Presents" and deduces that it means it is KCFR produced programming, that perception becomes a reality. If you have to describe in a bit a of detail what “KCFR Presents” actually means, I would say the title is not very well thought out, misleading, or is meant to obfuscate.

Or maybe I’m just a dumb hayseed that doesn’t get it, and shouldn’t be listening to public radio in the first place.

Anonymous said...

so, in light of this discussion, contact CPR and suggest a new, non-misleading title.

Does anybody here think CPR does ANYTHING right?!

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Anon,

Great idea! And, for all the CPR staff, managers, officers, and board members who have likely seen the blog so far, and for all the CPR fans, we at CPRB hope that they participate in the discussions--good, bad, and indifferent--on this blog.

Thanks!

JJ

Anonymous said...

MY hope is that this will be a forum to indicate ideas and thoughts about CPR and affiliates and to give constructive criticisms.

So far, the entire thing seems ill-willed and vindictive, so hopefully it moves to the constructive side sooner than later.

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Anon,

It is our hope that this site will, as you say ". . . be a forum to indicate ideas and thoughts about CPR and affiliates and to give constructive criticisms."

For us at CPRB, this also includes entities "other than CPR," which is why CPRB authors and commentators have spent much time and effort circulating this blog to readers in the larger public radio community throughout Colorado.

We are sorry that you opinion of us is that we are "ill-willed" or "vindictive." Frances Koncilja has said in earlier posts that, she loves public radio (generally) and Colorado Public Radio (specifically). This blog is dedicated toward making public radio better. And we here at CPRB believe that we are engaging in "constructive criticism" in order to liven up the discussion about public radio.

Thanks for your comments,

JJ

Anonymous said...

You are certainly engaging in "criticism" but I haven't seen much to indicate that it is constructive.

A lot of what's on here thus far seems to either be simply informative (which is GREAT!) or a rant (which is your prerogative).

Surely you agree that many (most?) of the posts thus far are negative, or leaning that way. A spade's a spade...

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Anonymous,

Please review each and every post. Is it ranting that a former board member raises concerns about the management of a station to which she is (was) associated? Ranting, by definition, can insinuate violence. Do think any posts or comments here are in any way violent? If so, that was not the intention.

Criticism is often poignant; opinions often critical. In that sense, criticism and opinions are often negative. This blog's balance may wax and wane from one direction to another. On balance, I am not sure if (in your mind, in ours, or in anyone else's) it will be 50% and 50% negative; 50% objective or 50% subjective. We expect though, more or less, that it will be lively. And that is why we are soliciting perspectives from across the spectrum of public radio.

Thanks again for you comments. They are certainly germane to the conversation.

JJ

Ruby Hill said...

If you're really interested in comparing and contrasting the budgets and compensation for 501c3 organizations like public radio stations, a very useful resource is Guidestar.org. They allow you to access the IRS 990 forms that all non-profits must file each year.

Also included on the 990 forms are the salaries and benefits for at least the top five individuals earning more than $50,000. The IRS doesn't care if you're paying your staff less than that.

Here's some of the salary info Ruby gleaned off of GuideStar this evening:

In the case of KUVO, there was only one person on the station's payroll that earned more than $50,000 in 2005. By sharp contrast, the other public radio broadcaster in Denver, Colorado Public Radio (CPR), had 17 individuals earning that much or more in 2006. The top six accounted for over $750,000 in salary and benefits. If one includes the classical music announcers heard via the Classical Public Radio Network (based here and in LA and heard in other markets nationwide), the number of individuals earning more than $50,000 jumps to 24 and the salary and benefit number jumps to $1,250,000.

Ruby looked at the 990's for some other public broadcasters too. In no case did Ruby find the disparity in salaries and benefits as dramatic as those between KUVO and CPR. WGBH's salaries were somewhat higher than CPR's but not significantly so. Those that were listed were primarily for the TV station. Any of those salaries would be totally defensible given that they are paid to producers of some of the best programs that PBS has to offer. Like NOVA, This Old House, etc. KCRW's salaries were either the same or lower than CPR's which Ruby found surprising given the number of programs that KCRW produces in-house. Minnesota Public Radio's salaries were on par with or perhaps slightly higher than what CPR paid but once again MPR produces far more original content than does CPR. Other than a daily interview show, CPR produces no original content. Ruby believes the Classical Public Radio Network final production work still takes place at Boise State Radio and not in Denver unless things have changed.

Ruby think it's fair to say from these examples that by and large public broadcasters are relatively cost conscious and extract as much value as possible from each and every dollar they have at their disposal. Some of the salaries are far too low considering the demands and responsibilities the job requires. Others, while less than what might be available in the commercial sector, are at least livable. It's only when one enters the realm of CPR do the salaries get out of whack.

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Ruby Hill,

Thanks for the post. Please see the CPRB post titled "Did You Ever Wonder?" There, we have posted all the Form 990s (from GuildeStar.Org) that we could find regarding public radio stations in Colorado ONLY. Just so you know, not ALL public radio stations (especially the smaller, 'community" ones) have their documents posted with GuideStar.

Your comparisons are also correct; there are great disparities between the top "salaried and benefitted" staff members among Colorado public radio stations, and some parity among those large statewide, regional, and somewhat "national" member stations (both in radio and in television).

Additionally, it is fair (to some degree) to compare these public radio "networks" as a separate group, even though in some instances it is NOT and apples-to-apples comparison (WGBH is TV, WBUR is radio, CPR is radio, etc.).

If salaries were compared to total budget, and then (perhaps) compared to total unique programming produced by entity (for example) it might reveal (as you say) that CPR has high salaries and low original output. To be fair however; CPRN should probably be compared to a similar "classical radio service" like Minnesota Public Radio's "Classical-24," and then perhaps compare those numbers to the number of clients and the amount paid by each station which subscribes to the service. That comparison might be revealing to gauge the efficiency of each service. Of course, it may not indicate the quality of each service--as that is one of the big selling points for CPRN and C-24. *Also, we have been told that CPR and CPRN no longer coordinate classical programming with Boise State University (BSU).

At CPRB, we agree--many public radio salaries are quite low. And many staff members who work in Colorado public radio, actually work for "free" (as volunteers), or for wages and salaries substantially lower that the national average. That said, I wonder why (like many other industries) that public radio workers are not unionized. I am not certain if that is even possible for these workers; however, I am just thinking out loud.

However, it seems clear to us at CPRN (and perhaps to you, RH) that a statewide network like Colorado Public Radio sure produces a dearth of "original" programming if just half of CPRN programming is credited to CPR (the other half going to KUSC in Los Angles, California). What else "original" is left besides? One hour of classical music programming from Colorado Spotlight per day? Broadcasts from the CSO? A scant 30 minutes of Colorado Matters (does 1/2 hour actually make it sound like more)? Top of the hour newscasts; ripped-and-read from the AP Wire (according to Frances Koncilja)?

The “KCFR News Initiative,” in our opinion, requires an injection of “creativity;” not one of more “process” like The Public Insight Network (PIN). KCPR News should be creating some strategic partnerships in preparation for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, for example. They should be trying to arrange some broadcasts with Colorado's colleges, universities and think tanks (like The Aspen Institute) when news-worthy notables come to town. The University of Denver, for example, sponsors round-tables, debates, and discussions about news, politics, and public policy quite regularly. And, they should cooperate with other Colorado public radio stations that lack the financial and market power that CPR has. Of course, I could go on, but you get the point.

At Colorado Public Radio Blog, we believe that the "KCPR News Initiative" completely lacks qualified management and fundamentally requires visionary leadership. And, Colorado Public Radio could certainly learn a lot from some of the truly creative stations, some stations that Ruby Hill mentions here and some to which I have listened: KCRW, WBUR, WBEZ, KUOW, WAMU et al. It seems that clear that Colorado Public Radio more than possesses adequate resources, but that these resources are not being mustered efficiently or effectively to produce the type of content that statewide networks--like Minnesota Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Radio--receive. If CPR is really a statewide network, then listeners--AND SUBSCRIBERS--should demand more than just a state-wide REPEATER for NPR, BBC, and PRI news and entertainment. If that is all we get for the money, then CPR should be entirely automated and babysat by engineers and technicians; not managers who get paid more than $100K per year.

Thanks for the research and the thoughtful post, Ruby.

JJ