The $30,000 Question
We just finished our Spring Membership Drive with hundreds of volunteers, great food from local restaurants and lots of special programming including Parliament-Funkadelic, Neil Young, Negativland (a live on-air mix combining our dj’s with a band member in Seattle), Blackwater author Jeremy Scahill, Greg Palast, Catherine Austin Fitts, Winona LaDuke and Bill McKibben. It’s always amazing to me that you can hear national-quality programming on our local, independent community radio station.
Despite all of this, our drive came up $30,000 short. How is this possible? Membership is driven by listenership, and our listenership peaked three to six years ago. And why has listenership declined? One reason is that the world has changed around us. People spend more time on the web, listening to their iPods, and Sirius and XM radio now come with cable television packages.
Yet, even as more options are available to us, local community organizations are critical to keeping Oregon and Washington great places to live. Without places like KBOO, we could very much wake up one day to find ourselves in Anytown USA without the political and cultural involvement that we enjoy here.
The shortfall is a wakeup call. KBOO can’t afford to do business the same old way and hope for the best. It’s time to get serious about playing to our strengths in on-air programming—and support that effort with outreach, the web, and an easy-to-follow program schedule.
No matter how well we do in promoting the station or reaching out on the web, it’s great programming that matters, so we have to be willing to look at and improve our on-air material. We have a mission to reach unserved and underserved communities, and sometimes people see that mission as being incompatible with reaching more listeners. I believe—and my experience shows me—that we can have exciting mission-driven programming that reaches our audience.
More next month, or visit www.kboo.fm and go to Community, Station Manager’s Report for more. In the meantime, please think about ways that you can let others know about the great work that we’re doing today and how we can get more people to join our extended political, musical and cultural family.