Current Online

School probes options for Greeley's KUNC

Originally published in Current, April 19, 1999
By Steve Behrens

Like many other university licensees of public radio stations before it, the University of Northern Colorado is examining how to make its station self-supporting.

"The question is, what can we do to enhance the independence of KUNC and reduce its dependence on taxpayer dollars which were allocated to us for the education of students," says Kay Norton, the university counsel. University President Hank Brown, a former U.S. senator who came to the university last summer, recently assigned Norton to look into the issue.

Though public radio is a "worthy enterprise, it is not part of the primary mission of the university," Norton says.

She expects the university will have some budget decisions to make by July, but may not have a long-term plan.

The university is reviewing its budget to reallocate funds to faculty salaries and bring them up to the level of comparable schools.

The 100,000-watt FM station last year received more than a third of its budget from the university--$241,000 in cash plus in-kind support valued at $147,000, according to Station Manager Neil Best. He denied rumors that the station was up for sale. "I know the sky is changing, but I'm not willing to say the sky is falling."

Best says he believes the station could operate without direct support from the university if it can have three or four years to phase in new revenue sources. KUNC is about to begin a major-giving solicitation effort, for instance.

Pursuing the possibility of partnerships, the university has talked with the University of Colorado, not far away in Boulder, and with Colorado Public Radio in Denver, according to Best.

KUNC adjusting to loss of licensee cash

Originally published in Current, Aug. 21, 2000
By Mike Janssen

KUNC in Greeley, Colo., is drawing only in-kind support from the University of Northern Colorado this fiscal year. That's a big change from just two years ago, when the university's funding comprised over a third of the station's budget.

"It's just been an overall team effort," says Station Manager Neil Best. "The key has been that we recognized the university changed the funding situation for a number of entities on campus. It wasn't, 'Get KUNC.' It was a decision about priorities in higher education."

UNC's main priority was raising faculty salaries. Last year it pared $95,000 from the $241,000 cash support it previously gave KUNC. This year, the university cut the rest of the cash support, leaving in-kind support valued at $150,000, according to CPB.

KUNC took the hit by raising corporate underwriting and listener support. The station has also cut corners in some places. For example, Best skipped attending this year's Public Radio Conference, and his news director sat out his counterparts' recent conference in Washington, D.C. But KUNC has also managed to spring for some new equipment to make its signal sound better. "In some places, we have tightened the belt," Best says. "At the same time, we've managed to have a very successful year."

The station is not planning to break from its licensee entirely, despite its newfound financial independence. Best cites the in-kind services and says KUNC still enjoys a good relationship with the school. "They see us as a valuable part of the university community," he says. "It's just that they believe we can fund ourselves."



. To Current's home page
. Later news: KUNC partisans compete to buy station from university, 2001.

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