Friday, November 6, 2015


UPDATE: 4pm CT 11/06/15

Two kind readers sent me links to download CPB’s 2013 document Recommendations for Changes to Radio CSG Program Policies [link]. This document lays out CPB’s plans for station cuts such as KZMU, Moab.
The story is more complex than what I first reported.  According to my sources, there is no Diss List. But, as I reported, there are changes in the minimum NFFS that will affect small stations.  NFFS is only one of the factors CPB uses to evaluate stations that receive Community Service Grants (CSG). Criteria also includes the type of station including Minority Audience Service Stations (MASS) and Rural Audience Service Stations.
Rather than a list, CPB has several formulas. Here is a chart that provides an overview of the changes:

There is much more in Recommendations for Changes to Radio CSG Program Policies that will appear in near future. Thank you folks who sent the information


From Tom Thomas of the Station Resource Group (SRG):

I read your posting about the rising levels of non-federal financial support (NFFS) that CPB will require for public radio stations it supports with Community Service Grants.

Your note and the accompanying tables misses the mark on several points in ways that will likely cause needless alarm for some stations and blunt CPB’s message to others.

First, there is no “diss list,” as you put it. CPB adopted a multi-year phase-in of higher minimum NFFS levels for some categories of stations. Stations that currently receive CSGs but do not meet these higher criteria will be subject to a multi-year phase-out of their support. There are many steps that stations at risk might take to avoid that outcome over the next several years. Stations that lose their support are eligible to regain it if they qualify in the future. Station budgets are fluid things.

Second, there is not a one-size-fits-all minimum NFFS level. For example, CPB supports a dozen stations in very rural areas that qualify as “sole service” stations – there is no other broadcast radio or television service available to their coverage areas. There is NO financial requirement for these stations. When they document their situation, CPB writes a check for $100,000. WVLS in Dunmore, WV, one of the stations in your table, fits this model. If the sole service station also qualifies as a minority station, which two-thirds of them do, they get $150,000.

Another example, stations that meet certain criteria as both rural and minority services currently have a minimum NFFS of $100,000. That will not change under the revised CPB policies. I counted 17 stations in your table that CPB considers both rural and minority. CPB supports a total of about 35 stations in this category, many of them operated by Native American tribes and groups.  A couple are close to the minimum NFSS, but most significantly exceed it. In recognition of the special circumstances many of these stations face, CPB has not only kept in place the lower financial requirement, but also continued to match their local support at a rate that is 75% greater than the match for non-rural, non-minority stations.

Third, some stations will be expected to meet a higher minimum than you mention in your piece. Stations that do not qualify as rural services, which previously had a minimum NFFS requirement of $200,000, will see their requirement rise to $500,000 by 2018. Just as there are some stations in rural communities like KZMU that have a significant uphill climb to meet their new requirements, about a dozen stations with more densely populated coverage areas also have some serious fundraising work ahead of them.

We have collectively grown the size, reach, diversity, and impact of the CPB-supported public radio system by careful calibration of the funding criteria and continuing evaluation of the results. These new standards emerged from the latest iteration of this process, a comprehensive CSG review in 2012-2013. The full report and recommendations over the review committee can be found on CPB’s website:

An early decision that has shaped today’s public radio system was that it would be foolish for CPB to write a check to every noncommercial, educational radio station, of which there are several thousand, and instead make more meaningful investments in what has become several hundred. Wherever the line gets drawn, there will be some stations on the “wrong” side, including some that I have worked for and with and cheer on in their efforts.

From Sally Kane at NFCB:

Thanks for covering the CSG issue for our community stations. Almost all the stations on your list are NFCB members. 

One thing I noticed is that you have a quite a number of Native stations on the list and those should come off because they are exempt form the threshold metrics and the increase to 300 K due to their MASS and RASS status. 

The ones that are around 250 to 320 K have been aware of this for about three years now and an impressive number of them are rallying and likely going to make the threshold in FY 17. It's very confusing how the lag time with numbers at CPB is a full year as a number of these stations are really increasing their NFFS and FY 12 wouldn't show that. Thats when the changes first came down.

The report below contains this new information. 

Noncom media blogs are buzzing about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s notification of KZMU, Moab, Utah, that the station will lose its CPB funding next year. The Moab Times recently published [link] an article about KZMU and the impact of CPB’s cuts.

For those readers not familiar with the lingo, “NFFS” is the total amount of support a station receives from sources other than CPB. This is an important metric because it shows the station’s track record of gaining listener support. Some observers feel universities have an unfair advantage because they can claim lots of in-kind institutional funding.

I tried to find information about the cuts at CPB’s website and found nothing. I sent a message to CPB and will update this column if/when I hear back from them.

New lists of affected stations will be posted when I receive them.


Many of the stations are NFCB members.  I just listened to a very nice interview on of Kane on KZMU [link].  She was in Moab to help KZMU establish a “friend’s group” to diversify the stations local funding sources.


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  2. KGPR, Great Falls, Montana is losing its CSG support.