Potential loss of funding could impact local NPR broadcasting

The U.S. Senate has proposed a restriction on the usage of funding and grants for National Public Radio. This federal money makes up about 10 percent of the public radio economy and the majority of it is issued through smaller stations where it constitutes about 30-50 percent of their budget.

The federal funding issued to NPR is done so in the form of community service grants through the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, which supports NPR and PBS. These grants are issued to individual, local stations to provide financial support for bringing in national programming.

While individual public radio stations broadcast their own news and music programs, they also broadcast popular NPR programs such as “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered” and “Fresh Air.” The individual stations are able to purchase these syndicated programs through the CPB grants.

The current Senate proposal would restrict the usage of these grants by limiting the number of programs they would be able to access. For 89.3 WLRH in Huntsville, these grants make up an important portion of their budget, said Oliver Stoutner, station manager.

The major concern at this point for WLRH and other stations is that the proposed restriction would increase the pressure on smaller stations that may not have access to NPR programming except through these federal grants. It is possible that if the proposal passes, the smaller, rural stations may receive smaller CPB grants but will not be able to use them freely, or no grants at all.

For UNA students and faculty, the possible loss of local programming would limit their access to a non-televised source of news media.

“I enjoy these programs because they have a more open approach to news,” said UNA graduate student Jim Coby. “As a culture, we’re so used to CNN Headline News and USA Today-style journalism-wham, bam, cram as many stories into as little time as possible. I like having more sides to an issue and more time spent on the issue for my own consideration.”

Although some NPR national programs are not locally broadcast, Coby also said that he is able to download them in a podcast format.

It is still uncertain as to whether or not the proposed restriction will be passed by the Senate.

“We are concerned as to how this will play out,” said Stoutner. “No one really knows at this point. Until a decision is made, the stations will continue to receive their grants.”