‘Supported by listeners like you’

Faced with funding uncertainty, KLCC asks the community for help

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Sterling Gonzalez / The Torch
KLCC Program director Terry Gildea reviews the evening program with keynote speakers Tom Goldman and Jane Greenhalgh. Tom Goldman is a NPR Sports correspondent known for “Basketball: A Ticket Off the Reservation” that details the life of basketball players on reservations and Jane Greenhalgh is the Senior Producer for the NPR Science Desk known for “#15Girls,” a story written to explain how certain cultures treat 15-year-old girls.

On May 31, the KLCC Public Radio Foundation held their second-annual fundraising dinner at the Downtown Athletic Club in Eugene. The dinner brought together journalists, community leaders and longtime financial backers to celebrate over 50 years of Eugene public radio.

The event also featured an interview with Tom Goldman and Jane Greenhalgh – two Portland-based journalists who have worked with National Public Radio for well over twenty years – facilitated by KLCC program director Terry Gildea. Goldman and Greenhalgh, who are married, each shared behind-the-scenes insight into their favorite stories, including Goldman’s profile of late fitness guru Jack Lalanne and Greenhalgh’s reporting on a Kentucky woman who discovered she was being price-gouged by her hospital and insurance company.

KLCC also took time to recognize some of their own reporters and staff members – including News Director Rachel McDonald, reporter Tiffany Eckert and intern Alec Cowan – for excellence in reporting by gifting the staff new digital voice recorders.

Radio stations like KLCC are considered “non-commercial entities” by the Federal Communications Commission and operate as non-profit organizations. NPR-affiliate stations don’t broadcast advertisements and are largely funded by individual donations and subscription services. However, a small portion of NPR’s annual budget – 11 percent, in KLCC’s case – comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation that grants federal funding to public radio and television stations. In February, President Donald Trump’s budget proposal threatened to eliminate federal funding for the CPB, prompting radio stations like KLCC to explore alternate avenues for fundraising. By launching a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, the station gained access to grants and public funding it could not otherwise obtain due to strict FCC regulations.

As a result, the station has been able to boost funding in the past two years. According to foundation president Morgan Munro, last year’s event raised over $125,000, almost 50 percent of the total contribution KLCC received from the CPB. Though official fundraising numbers from the event have not been made public as of this writing, the flurry of multi-thousand dollar contributions made during the donation drive suggests that the station raised at least as much this year.

Despite the public threats to federal funding, Greenhalgh stressed the importance of individual contributions to public radio stations to keep them afloat

“Without your support, Tom and I couldn’t do what we do,” Greenhalgh said, adding that “KLCC continues that great tradition of reporting [NPR] is known for.”

Goldman took a harder stance, criticizing the president’s crusade against media organizations like NPR and other outlets and warning the audience about the impact President Trump’s threats against news organizations could have on communities across the country.

“Journalism is under attack like never before,” Goldman said. “Our local stations are the future. They give NPR a real boost, and we can do our part to support local journalism.”

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