This is an updated version of a post that first appeared on July 20, 2015.
Let’s shine a light on a noncommercial broadcaster that truly excels in public service, innovation and fiscal responsibility: Louisville Public Media (LPM) link.
LPM provides an excellent example for all noncom broadcasters because their success is built great programming, wise leadership and putting the needs of listeners and community first – not narrow ideologies and inside agendas.
THE LOUISVILLE STORY
In 1949 the FCC granted a license for a new 10-watt FM station to the Louisville Public Library. WFPL FM 89.3 signed on in February 1950. During the early years WFPL concentrated on educational programming.
|WFPL Began Broadcasting in 1950|
These were tough years for FM broadcasting because the FCC moved all FM stations to a new part of the spectrum making existing receivers obsolete. Most commercial broadcasters gave up on FM.
In 1952, Louisville’s powerhouse WAVA-AM donated its FM license, equipment and tower to Louisville Public Library. The unbuilt station became WFPK FM 91.7. The library was the first organization in the nation to own two FM licenses in the same market. At the time WFPK aired classical music.
In 1976 the University of Louisville signed on WUOL FM 90.1. WUOL also aired classical at that time.
|Gerry Weston, now GM at WICN, Worchester|
In 1987, the Louisville Public Library cut ties to the stations because of budget problems. Manager Gerry Weston led the effort to create a new nonprofit organization to operate the two stations: Kentucky Public Radio.
ENTER LOUISVILLE PUBLIC MEDIA
By 1993 the University of Louisville decided to exit the radio business. WUOL was folded into Kentucky Public Radio, Inc. and operated as the Public Radio Partnership. (Kentucky Public Radio still the legal name of organization.)
In 1996 LPM focused on a unique format for each of the three stations: NPR News 24/7 on WFPL, Triple A on 24/7 WFPK and Classical 24/7 on WUOL.
LPM had a successful $5,000,000 capital campaign and began broadcasting in 2000 from their new broadcast center in the heart of downtown Louisville.
LOUISVILLE PUBLIC MEDIA TODAY
In 2006 Donovan Reynolds became GM. In 2008 the organization’s operating name became Louisville Public Media. LPM puts community needs first and continues to grow.
In tax year 2013, LPM had more than $5,467,000 in gross revenue. Expenses for the year totaled $4,759,000, providing an operating margin of over $700,000.
LPM’s 2013 revenue came from a healthy variety of sources. Pledging brought in around $1,700,000; underwriting was $1,900,000. CPB provided $276,000 – a scant 5% of total.
All three of the stations do well in the Nielsen Audio ratings. According to the Fall 2015 data WFPL had 110,100 weekly cumulative listeners, WFPK had 62,400 and WUOL had 31,700. This is a very healthy cluster of stations. Reynolds and PDs Stacey Owen at WFPK, Daniel Gilliam at WUOL and WFPL Manager Editor Brendan McCarthy, are doing terrific work.