Proposed federal cuts threaten KUT

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The University-operated radio station, KUT, could lose a half a million dollars in federal funding if a proposed spending cuts bill passes the Senate.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill Saturday that would cut $60 billion from the federal budget. If the Senate passes the bill, the government would eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which would result in an estimated $531 million in savings.

The corporation funds public television and radio stations, including National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service.

Funding from the corporation makes up about 7 percent of KUT’s operating budget, or roughly $500,000 a year, said KUT director Stewart Vanderwilt.

“It would have a profound impact on the station if federal funding to KUT was cut,” he said. “It would be very difficult for the station [to] continue to run the way it currently does.”

KUT uses federal funds to purchase programs from NPR such as “Morning Edition” and “Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me!”’ and to hire and pay local reporters and producers who contribute to the station, Vanderwilt said.

“Without those funds we would either have to find ways to replace the money or reduce those costs in a substantial way,” he said.

Vanderwilt said since the station is just learning about the potential cuts, they are still in discussion about what action to take, but hoping for strong community support.

“We are going to inform the community about this potential threat and we hope people will make their interests known,” he said. “If they feel that continued funding is important, we hope they will let their representatives know.”
KUT intern Mario Carrillo said public broadcasting shouldn’t be on the chopping block for funding because it is a unique facet of news reporting.

“I think cuts are a horrible idea because public broadcasting is a great medium,” he said. “I think it’s one of the best mediums we have for storytelling and it’s very different and unique from print or broadcast.”

Carrillo said cutting funds would limit the station’s ability to cover the city as best they can.

Jessica Hamilton, a journalism senior and KUT news copy editor, said any cuts would be disheartening, but those affecting student workers take away from the learning experience.

“The purpose of student workers here is to get hands-on experience and to get your feet wet,” she said. “So if it comes down to it and budget cuts affect student hiring, it would limit and hurt the experience that we have.”
Hamilton said although public broadcasting is in line for budget cuts, she doesn’t feel targeted.

“I don’t think they are attacking us, because it’s all across the board,” she said. “It’s hard times for everyone, and I’m not surprised.”