KCPT, NewsHour receive $4 million in “transformational” donation

By Dru Sefton and Karen Everhart

A “transformational gift” from an anonymous donor will create a digital news center at KCPT in Kansas City, Mo., as well as provide support for PBS NewsHour through the PBS Foundation.

The gift is of Archer Daniels Midland stock valued at roughly $4 million, KCPT President Kliff Kuehl told Current, of which the PBS Foundation will receive $1 million for NewsHour. PBS President Paula Kerger announced the gift July 10 at a private event with public television attendees at the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference in Atlanta.

The contributor was on KCPT’s list of major donor prospects. Kuehl said Brian Reddington of the PBS Foundation made the first contact and brought him into the conversation. The process of cultivating the grant took five to six weeks.

With its portion of the donation, KCPT will create an interactive digital news center for multimedia and multiplatform projects, “a new service focused on news and public affairs storytelling in the digital age,” it said in its announcement.

Kuehl said he is modeling the KCPT Center for Journalism on KPBS’s news expansion in San Diego. The contribution provides for start-up funding and several years of operations. He expects to develop sustainable revenue streams to keep the center running.

Angee Simmons, a KCPT executive producer, told Current that a new team of journalists — videographers, editors, producers and graphic artists — will work in collaboration with the television production team to provide the region with more comprehensive coverage of civic, cultural and economic issues.

Beth Hoppe, PBS chief programmer, said in a statement that the donation benefits the entire pubcasting system. “High-quality news and public affairs programming is at the heart of the PBS mission,” she noted, “and these gifts signify the value the public places on that service, both nationally and locally.”

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