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Public Broadcasting 101

By Ken Baker, Radio Kansas Manager

As you travel this fall you may encounter other public radio stations in the midst of their fundraisers. Our fundraisers tend to be later each season to allow listeners more of a chance to respond by mail, and avoid unnecessary days on air. Other stations tend to start earlier, though, so you may get a chance to hear another station seeking funds, and then hear us do the same later. Lucky you!

By law and by design, every public radio station is owned and operated locally, so every station’s budgetary situation is different. Something we all have in common is a diversity of funding sources. Yes, each station gets some government help so that it can offer worthwhile programming that commercial stations simply can’t provide. Each station works with local business and industry to cover some costs. Individual, voluntary supporters like you provide the lion’s share of support, and no station can (or should!) exist unless listeners signal that the programming is serving their needs.

This guidance from the community leads each station to offer different programming. Radio Kansas is a traditional public station, serving a variety of audiences each week. As you travel, you’ll hear other stations that are clearly serving the same people all week long with a steady diet of the same programming. Our goal is to maximize the number of Kansans benefitting each week, not serve fewer folks 24 hours per day. Some listeners relish our variety. Others listeners tell us right out that they listen to “their” programming whenever they can, but we’ll never earn their support because they can’t just listen all the time! This is what has forced a rich tapestry of services off the air in so many markets, but it’s YOUR consistent support that’s kept Radio Kansas special all these years! NPR News, local and syndicated classical, folk, jazz, contemporary instrumental and public radio’s signature comedy shows all have a significant presence in central Kansas because of your ongoing support! Each of these services expands as more people signal their interest with a pledge.

Our on air fundraiser for each show is only as long as it takes to pay the bills! Your pledge on our website right now really does shorten our drive. On two occasions we’ve had no on air drive at all because listeners took care of it “behind the scenes,” by mail and over the phone. Every season the length of the drive is in listener hands. It’s easy to be disappointed in our staff or the volunteers you hear asking for money. Please accept that our motivation is the same as yours—to retain your favorite shows and get back to normal programming! Please—make a pledge today. We’ll be able to tell everyone that our remaining need is that-much-less, and our drive can be that-much-shorter!