Friday, April 1, 2011

Who Says There's No Money in Radio Anymore?

The debate continues to rage in Congress over ways to reduce Federal spending and by how much. One of the smaller ideas on the table is to eliminate the Federal funding of NPR. The thinking goes something like this: why should taxpayer money be used to fund radio stations; let NPR go out and make it on its own in the marketplace since they offer a superior product to for-profit radio stations. It turns out that NPR has been a pretty lucrative gig for many:
Fresh Air host / executive producer Terry Gross: $245,563 in 2008
This American Life host Ira Glass: earned $170,605 in 2008
Morning Edition host Renee Montagne: $405,140
Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep: $356,499
All Things Considered anchor Robert Siegel: $358,653
Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon: $364,465
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is no slouch in the area of compensation either. According to CPB's 2009 tax forms, President and CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison received $298,884 in reportable compensation and another $70,630 in other compensation from the organization and related organizations that year. But that pales in comparison to the $1.2 million in compensation NPR president emeritus Kevin Klose stuffed in his pockets in 2009.

In 2001, the federal government appropriated $340 million for CPB. Last year it got $420 million. As Congress considers ways to close the $14 trillion deficit, cutting funding for the CPB has even been proposed by President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission. Instead, The President wants to increase CPB's funding to $451 million in his latest budget.

PBS has other sources of income besides the taxpayers. "Sesame Street," for example, made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales from 2003-2006, which along with taxpayer money help pay Sesame Street Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell $956,513 in 2008.

What do you think about about the taxpayer continuing to fund these organizations giving the $14T plus in Federal debt that someone is going to have to pay off sooner or later? Is funding NPR and PBS a vital and legitimate function of government?


  1. Sounds about right for senior government functionaries. Used to be that public service paid crappy wages.

  2. Good question. It illustrates the basic issue. Everything up for cutting benefits somebody. Undoubtedly the salaries are excessive. But this is part of the problem - government programs grow to be excessive.