Here are a few frequently asked questions about KPBS, San Diego’s main public broadcasting operation, which I wrote about today in this story:

Q: How much does it cost to run the station each year?

A: KPBS has a $19.3 million budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, which began on July 1.

Its budget has remained fairly stable over the past eight years, hitting a low of $16.3 million in 2000-2001 and a high of $21.8 million in 2003-2004.

Q: How much of its budget is funded by taxpayers?A: Federal funds make up about 13 percent of KPBS’s budget, about $2.6 million.

San Diego State University provides $2.5 million worth of “in- kind” support, such as janitorial and maintenance services. (In this case, “in-kind” means the station gets services, not cash.)

Q: Is KPBS having more trouble raising donations recently?

A: Yes. During a weeklong pledge drive in October, KPBS-FM raised $388,000, compared to $445,420 the year before. The number of memberships grew, however, according to a station spokeswoman.

KPBS-TV’s pledge drive from Nov. 28 to Dec. 14 raised $450,710, $90,000 lower than the goal.

Q: Does KPBS spend a lot of money to raise money?

A: According to its 2008-2009 budget, the station will spend $4.9 million of its $19.3 million income on “membership/marketing,” “business development” and “development,” areas all related to fundraising.

Q: Will KPBS-FM ever create a classical-music-only station?

A: It’s possible, but not very likely. The station would have to spend many millions to buy access to another frequency, since it doesn’t have plans to abandon its news-information format on 89.5 FM.

However, KPBS-FM does offer 24-hour classical music on a subchannel that’s available to listeners with HD radios.

Q: Will KPBS-FM switch to news instead of classical music at night?

The new general manager may have to deal with this question, said John Decker, program director of KPBS-FM. “We’re a news station but we play classical music at night. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: Is overnight news to going to add to our audience and our profile?”

Q: What’s with the musical group Celtic Woman, self-help spiritual guru Wayne Dyer and all those other celebrities and artists who pop up during KPBS-TV pledge drives?

A: Dyer & Co. are on the air during pledge periods because they bring in lots of money and make viewers happy, said former general manager Doug Myrland.

“The people who love Celtic Woman are not a whole different group than those who are watching ‘Masterpiece Theater’ or ‘Nova’ or ‘Nature,’” Myrland said. “Some people think everything on PBS should be high brow, not middle brow. But there are a lot of middle-brow fans in the audience. That’s what that’s all about.”

Not everyone is thrilled about the pledge-drive shows, however. In 2006, PBS ombudsman Michael Getler wrote that Dyer detractors had “a sense that PBS might be seen as lending its prestige to Dyer’s spiritual views and aligning itself with his teachings.”


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