Alaska’s KUAC, APRN reach agreement to help station with budget shortfall

By Sean Meehan

Joint licensee KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Alaska Public Radio Network have agreed on a three-month extension that will allow the station to continue airing APRN content while it addresses a $170,000 funding shortfall.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks, which owns KUAC, announced July 1 that it would cut the station’s funding by that amount to offset its own $12 million budget shortfall. The reduction amounts to about 6 percent of KUAC’s total budget.

APRN helps stations in Alaska share content and offers the programs Talk of Alaska and Alaska News Nightly, both of which air on KUAC. The agreement between KUAC and APRN allows the station to continue running APRN content without paying dues until November 30.

“We understand the difficulties KUAC faces in reconciling tough university budget cuts, and KUAC isn’t the first APRN member station to face a hardship,” said Steve Lindbeck, c.e.o. of Alaska Public Media, in a statement on KUAC’s website. “APRN will suspend KUAC dues payments for three months to give time for other options to be considered.”

KUAC got additional help Thursday with the approval of a $20,000 grant from the Fairbanks North Star Borough. “I think it’s very important to have a well-rounded community, and I think public broadcasting is a very important part of that,” said assemblymember Guy Sattley, according to newsminer.com. “This is a good year to help out a little bit.”

In the meantime, the station is continuing to look for ways to trim its budget. Prior to the announced budget cuts, the station had already tasked its development department with increasing corporate and philanthropic support by $100,000 to keep up with costs.

“Effectively, the development department is down $270,000,” Martin said. “In a community of 100,000 people, that’s a pretty big request.”

The station saved about $34,000 by cutting a full-time position to part-time but hasn’t decided on further reductions.

“The next steps at the moment are just to continue to review the budget and see how we can address the cuts,” Martin said. “The biggest part here is to minimize the impact on air, which is something we’re trying very hard to do.”

Digital Editor Mike Janssen contributed to this story.

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