I got a very interesting email from a long time friend in public radio tonight.
Here it is … I’ve elected to not disclose the author, unless he wants to come on here and do it. But his email to me does present some interesting issues that those of us involved in ANY kind of radio should pay attention to — public radio or otherwise. We’re not in radio-Kansas anymore Toto….
Here’s the email:
Chris and friends in the Fort:
I’m not sure if you’ve seen this, but if you haven’t, you should:
Rating Outlook On Colorado Public Radio s Series 2002 Revenue Bonds Revised To Negative
8.2 million dollars in debt. With a bond rating downgrade, all they can seem to do is re-finance their debt.
I hope the impact on community radio stations around the region will be minimal. With the economy in terrible shape, Colorado Public Radio’s (CPR) need to sell their Ruby Hill property (the old KVOD location) in today’s real estate climate, and a years-long attempt (with no takers) to sell-off their 1340 AM signal in today’s radio world (CPR bought 1340 for 4.2 million dollars), there’s no place but DOWN from here for CPR. The downturn goes to the core of operations as CPR staff morale is reportedly down. Recently, staff began meeting with senior management to discuss items such as “benefits”; items that once seemed untouchable. Beware of the possible fallout.
Why should everyone else in the public radio world in Colorado be concerned?
CPR is the largest public radio entity in the Rocky Mountain West, a prestigious distinction which can also translate into something much less attractive when finances start to fall apart. The negative CPR bond rating blowback could make it more difficult for (smaller) public radio entities in the region, when they attempt to secure funding for larger ticket items (capital expenditures for equipment, etc.).
Questions can arise, such as:
– If the region’s largest public radio entity is a financial risk, why should major lenders or investors (of CPR bonds) invest in smaller budgeted stations?
– Aren’t smaller public stations naturally a higher risk than an entity the size of CPR? Or
– can smaller stations present a “mean and lean” proposal that can secure needing funding?
In this financial climate, it behooves smaller community stations to ask these questions and try to answer them honestly. Stations with solid ties to the communities they serve, with loyal local underwriting accounts, have a good start. It’s a key part of this puzzle. Here’s hoping you can move ahead through the financial fog.
So, where DOES that leave the rest of us? Do we have a product that people trust, that they want, that the community we live in needs, that creates a sense of urgency to engage in, and that we can afford?
Worth thinking about in this era of media contraction.