At the dawn of the new year, the U.S. Congress approved and the President signed H.R. 8: The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 – averting the so-called “fiscal cliff.” What does this mean for public broadcasting and JPR? Since the legislation includes a two-month delay to sequestration, the mandatory cuts that would be imposed if no compromise could be reached, it delays the estimated 8.2% or $36 million cut to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) that would have gone into effect on January 1 as a result of sequestration. At the local level, JPR has needed to reduce its budget for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2013 by $27,000 to adjust for CPB funding that has been held back from local station grants in order to plan for the possibility of significant funding cuts that could be enacted in March.
In addition to dealing with the postponed sequestration cuts in March, Congress and the President must simultaneously negotiate on whether or not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling as well as grapple with how to finish the FY 2013 appropriations bills. The creation of this budgetary “perfect storm” results from the fact that last year Congress and the President only approved a six-month continuing resolution to fund the federal government until March 27. The outcome of this process will ultimately determine the funding that will be dedicated to support public broadcasting.
Clichés like “kicking the can down the road” to describe the current federal budget circumstance have become rampant in the press. Sometimes I need to remind myself that, although we’re now well into 2013, our government is still negotiating the federal budget year that began on October 1, 2012 and will end this September. At JPR, and I would venture to say at most other organizations and businesses, multi-year budget planning is an essential part of our operations. And, while the current federal budget uncertainty has made it much more difficult, JPR will continue to plan ahead with the goal of developing a sustainable service to the region beyond the current year.
As we look forward, I want to welcome two new JPR staff members. Charlotte Duren returns to JPR as the new Producer of the Jefferson Exchange working with Geoffrey Riley to create an engaging, interactive public affairs program each day on JPR’s News and Information Service. Charlotte is a Southern Oregon University Communications graduate who cut her teeth at JPR and later went on to work in news for Alaska Public Radio and KCPW in Salt Lake City. She replaces Lisa Polito, who took an exciting new job with NPR’s StoryCorps project as a coordinator of one of the StoryCorps mobile oral history trailers. The results of Lisa’s work with continue to be heard on JPR each Friday during StoryCorps segments in Morning Edition. We also welcome Barbara Dellenback to JPR as the new local host of Morning Edition. Barbara comes from a long-time Medford family and has an extensive journalism career in radio news in Oregon, including jobs at KLCC, KUGN and KPNW in Eugene and KINK in Portland.
And, finally, I’d like to thank JPR listeners who came through for us yet again during our end-of-year fundraising campaign, making contributions that resulted in an all-time high for any December and a 20% increase above last year. We are humbled by the generosity of the public radio audience in the State of Jefferson and committed to returning your investment each day with in-depth news, inspired music and smart entertainment programs.