Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Earlier in December KDNK [link] in the Rocky Mountain community of Glenwood Springs, Colorado fired station manager Steve Skinner. Skinner had been GM of KDNK for over eleven years. No reason was given for the termination at the time.

Last week the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent [link] published the details that led to Skinner’s dismissal: KDNK’s finances are deep in the red and revenue is far lower than mid fiscal year projections. According to a member of KDNK’s governing board, the losses could top $67,000 by the end of the fiscal year in June 2017.  Fortunately, KDNK reports it has about $166,000 in reserves, so this is not an existential crisis. But, in time, it could become one.

One reason for KDNK’s shortfall is intense competition for limited listener dollars with Aspen Public Radio KAJX [link] located in nearby (as the eagle flies) Aspen. Both stations air NPR News magazines. During its other broadcast hours KDNK airs a checker-board of specialty programs. KAJX airs an uncluttered schedule of news, info and entertainment. The result of KAJX’s focused programming appears to have cost KDNK listeners and supporters.

KDNK began in the late 1970s and KAJX began in the late 1980s. Both stations began as homegrown efforts.  As time has gone by both stations have expanded their service areas with translators and repeaters. KAJX repeater KCJX puts a city-grade signal into Glenwood Springs. In additional to local signals, KDNK and KAJX also compete with translators for KCFR and KVOD from Denver and KUNC from Greeley. The year round population for both towns combined is less than 80,000. So, the competition is pretty intense.

Over the years KDNK has stayed about the same financial size. In 2015 their revenue was $471,000.  On the other hand, KAJX has kept growing every year. Their most recent annual revenue (2014) was $1,339,000. In some ways the situation is similar to KAZU and the late KUSP in Santa Cruz. However, KDNK is a much better operated station than KUSP.

If KDNK’s revenue downturn continues to fall, their Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) funding may be in jeopardy.  CPB requires a minimum of $300,000 annual local funding to qualify for support. CPB provided KDNK around $120,000 for FY 2016. According to news sources, KDNK's projected revenue for this year is about $30,000 below the required amount.

Local observers say that KDNK's current weaknesses are due to its income issues, employee and volunteer turnover, the lack of audience research and a lack of consensus on strategy for the future of station.

Though KDNK says it does not want to be "like Aspen Public Radio," no one is certain what that actually means. It appears the key question is: What can KDNK do to find more revenue without selling out?

KDNK is hoping the station can tap into online services, make its programming more mobile friendly and leverage large donations and planned giving from current listeners. Of course, many noncom stations say they want to do these things but the actual outcomes vary.

Meanwhile KDNK is search for a new manager. The gig pays $55,000 to $60,000 and the deadline for applications is January 9, 2017. More information is at [link].


As some of you may know, I have been experiencing declining vision since my right eye was injured in a botched surgical procedure in 2003. An increasing amount of my time is now being spent on learning about (and coping with) low vision. Low vision is the term I use to describe life between blindness and normal site. An estimated five million Americans are in the same situation as me.

You can see my blog WELCOME TO LOW VISION at [link]. Thank you for caring.

No comments:

Post a Comment