This note isn’t meant to be political. My purpose isn’t to criticize or cajole…to kindle contempt or commendation. It’s purely to inform.
The zeroing-out of CPB appears on page 11 of the budget (officially: America First – A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again by the Office of Management and Budget).*
For the past six years, CPB’s funding has been relatively flat, hovering between $421 - $445 million. $15.6 million of that (roughly 3.5%) was split amongst public radio stations, including WCBE. Our portion of that pool was $90,195 last year (roughly 6% of our budget).
As you know when listening to WCBE’s on-air fundraisers, we operate on a razor-thin edge. Losing that money would cascade into some rather radical changes at WCBE, heralded by the whittling away of our local programs. Due to economies of scale, it’s far less expensive to be an automated pass-through of national shows than to create unique local programming.
But…will we lose that money? Congress, not the President, crafts and approves the final Federal budget. Attacks on public broadcasting are nothing new; they stretch back to the 1970s.** Every time, Congress relented and continued that funding. Personally (this is my opinion, not fact), I believe both politics and the media landscape have changed, and the funding for CPB will be eliminated this time.
So…will we lose that money, part 2. Personally (my opinion, again), I believe listeners will make up that funding gap. Why? Because (back to fact) the portion of WCBE’s listeners who donate has been lower than the national average since we started on-air fundraising 30 years ago. Only about 5% of WCBE listeners give; other stations are closer to 10%...even more in philanthropically-exceptional communities. That gives WCBE lots of wiggle room. If just a few percent more listeners donate, we’ll make up that gap readily.
That’s why our current Warp Drive (and the regular on-air Spring fundraiser which might follow) are so important.
While the Federal cuts don’t go into effect until 1 October, these March/April efforts are our last chance to raise local funds before then – the last fundraising that carries us into that new fiscal year. We have to start paying the 2018 programming bills over the summer, long before the fall fund drive season. Additionally, our budget for 2018 is required to be set this May, and it’s based largely on how our two main fundraisers perform. ***
In short, waiting to raise the lost Federal funds until October is too late.
What can you do? First, don’t wait. If you’ve not yet donated to WCBE, the time is now. Your gift is more critical than ever before. It’s easy to give online at wcbe.org. Or pop a check in the mail to The WCBE Fund at 540 Jack Gibbs Boulevard, Columbus, OH, 43215-1720.
And second, spread the word. Let your friends know how critical – how truly vital – donations are at this tipping-point. Send along our wcbe.org link to make it easy.
Our promise in the Warp Drive promos and eblasts still holds. If we can raise the needed funds now, in March, we’ll cancel our usual on-air fundraiser (scheduled for March 30 – April 7) and keep your shows interruption-free from our normal begging!
We’re not panicking over the Federal budget cuts. Not yet, anyway. There are still two weeks and change left in the Warp Drive. That’s two weeks for your donation at wcbe.org to come through, two weeks for you to spread the word to other listeners, two weeks for listeners who’ve never given in the past to join you in keeping 90.5FM on the air for all of central Ohio.
Your donation now tells us that WCBE is an important service. Important enough to survive without that Federal funding. Important enough to keep it local.
Thanks for reading this through…and for your support!