There are no changes to our cuts from the State Budget Agency. At this time, WFIU and WTIU combined are looking at close to $200,000 in cuts. We continue to ask for easement in the rather draconian 50% cut to our state allocation, but so far we have not met with success.
Many listeners and viewers have empathized with our situation. There is no good news in the current fiscal scenario and most agencies and organizations are planning for deep cuts. Of course, many listeners want to know how WFIU plans to handle these cuts. Needless to say, we have tightened belts to just about the last notch and are now quite slim, indeed. Had dieting been our objective, we could claim overwhelming victory. In reality, here is what WFIU has done to date to help cover the gap in funding.
- A change in our monthly guide Directions in Sound both in the type of paper used and in length. We successfully negotiated a lower bid for the guide, as well as for other WFIU print jobs. This is not to be confused with the lack of detail in the classical music listings noted by many listeners. This unfortunate situation is the result of the recording industry’s insistence on NOT publishing information about selections and performers prior to airing. All stations that stream their signal fall under this rule. WFIU streams both HD1 and HD2 signals over www.wfiu.org.
- A cut in training and conference travel. Only personnel who obtain partial scholarships and/or have their expenses reimbursed by national organizations (NPR, PRIMA – Public Radio in Mid America) are traveling these days. On the face this seems like a simple common sense cut, but when you consider that most new technology updating and training happens at conference, the loss of travel flexibility acquires new meaning for an industry that is all about cutting-edge technology.
- A cut in client services in the front desk phone answering area. For many years our person-to-person phone communication was a source of pride. If you call now, you may encounter the pleasant but somewhat pesky phone answering service.
- An across-the-board cut in all back-office station operations.
- Compliance with new university cost-reduction purchasing protocols.
- Automation of on-air hours. In order to cut on announcer costs, we had to automate additional on-air hours.
- Hiring in several key areas is frozen; tasks of existing staff have been reassigned in order to absorb the loss.
- We postponed the purchase of several key equipment items, including a new board and microphones for our recording studio.
- To help raise additional revenue, we will initiate several online giving opportunities throughout the year. We pride ourselves on having just one on-air fund drive each year, and though this is a laudable achievement, it diminishes our ability to “reach new ears” of those who are not listening or responding during the fall fund drive. Online giving opportunities may help make up for this loss.
- Staff have been asked to take voluntary unpaid furloughs.
- In all cost-cutting efforts, there are those little creature comfort details that suffer. Perhaps the cruelest cut of all (at least for some staff) is the reduction in and possible elimination of the coffee budget. We suffered through the loss of the water cooler several years ago when it fell victim to a previous budget cut, but now, the elixir of all 24/7 operations is threatened! Stay tuned…
Here’s what we don’t want to cut:
- Programming that listeners rely on. Included in this is our commitment to broadcast content that increases awareness and reflects culture.
- Public service content, which includes public service announcements and public affairs programming. Cuts in this area affect the core of our public service mission and corrode the reason for our existence.
- Research and innovation in developing substantive program content and new revenue sources for both radio and online. Reduction in these areas could severely limit our position as a media service now and when the economy begins to recover. Fortunately we foresaw technology changes coming sooner than most stations, and planned ahead through individual, grant, and foundation funding earmarked for these initiatives. Examples of projects include: Night Lights programs that serve both local and national audience, are accessed through low-cost distribution means, and now begin to generate a small income for WFIU; a proposed project to leverage the strength of Harmonia’s 180 national markets with online sales of ancillary products; development of incremental income streams generated through partnerships with Amazon and similar mass-market entities. Combined, these sources of small passive revenue streams help WFIU make up for state, university, and federal losses. In academia there is the old saying – “publish or perish.” In radio this translates to “innovate or perish.” We’re innovating!