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Local public radio station faces possible budget cuts

By JASON MORROW jmorrow@paducahsun.com

With cuts in the federal budget looming, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting could be one of the first to get the ax.

For WKMS-FM in Murray, the cut might be crippling.

During the WKMS Community Advisory Board meeting Monday at the Paducah School of Art and Design, station manager Chad Lampe said nearly 15 percent of their budget comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which totals around $184,000.

"These things have been targeted before and discussed before by way of federal cuts," Lampe said in an interview before the meeting. "They tend to stand the test of time, but this is an unprecedented administration."

A bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in January by Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., that would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit federal funding for the corporation after the 2019 fiscal year.

A national budget cut may not be the only financial problem WKMS could face in the coming months.

Since Murray State University licenses WKMS, it also provides the station with facilities and provides support with six full-time staff positions. With the decline in student enrollment this year, however, Lampe said he wasn't sure if there might be cuts in the budget.

It wouldn't be the first time WKMS was hit with a budget decrease by Murray State. Last year the station lost funding for one full-time position, which totaled about 10 percent of the station's support from the university. Lampe said it was part of a broad sweep of cuts and WKMS wasn't targeted.

"We have strong support from our community, and we have strong support form our university," he said. "(Murray State is) aware of the vital service that we provide."

Lampe remains optimistic about the future for WKMS, saying listener support is better than ever. "All of our data points are trending nicely as far as who's listening," he said.

In the meeting, Lampe asked listeners in the community about their favorite programming and asked for suggestions about what shows to place in what time slot. He then showcased podcasts that were produced by people in the community and will air sometime in April.

He also gave an update on the WKMS music streaming service, which added more than 200 listening hours in February.

"Our goal is to provide things that our audience can't get anywhere else in our region," he said. "It's important that people are aware of us and have this source of programming in the region."

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