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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

SDPB Faces Budget Cuts? Let's Hear from the Office

[Warning: Heavily redacted, due to a friend's request and the apparent absence of First Amendment rights for state employees.]

Last night Jim Clark celebrated the ninth anniversary of his program, Jazz Nightly, on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Today I learn from Mr. Epp [edit] that our legislature may rain on Uncle Jimmo's tenth year by only partially funding our statewide public broadcaster.

Why does this matter? [Permit me to describe] SDPB's community-building function best:

When it comes to creating a culture that is uniquely South Dakota, SDPB is it. Commercial radio and TV are just fountains for national content that rarely includes talent from this part of the country. Shows like "No Cover, No Minimum" showcase regional talent on a statewide broadcast network, for free [words I now claim as my own]

Legislators, SDPB is an investment, not an expense. It is the only broadcast source for classical music and jazz and extended news programming. It is one of the few broadcast media outlets that brings any focus to South Dakota artists and events. And lately, Paul Guggenheimer's noon program been bringing us the best conversations on the dial.

Yes, the Legislature faces a hard task in balancing the state budget. But let's not let them make SDPB an easy target. Let's keep an eye on that budget process and protect one of South Dakota's finest educational and cultural resources.

To learn more, go to savesdpb.org.

See also David Montgomery's investigation of the possible cuts at the Capitol.


  1. Cory squared:

    It's been 37 years of listening for me; 1973, KESD, Pugsley Hall, Tim Hinkley; but, I confess that Joani and I only send money to Yellowstone Public Radio, ypradio.org now.

    SDPB's link to the Legislature is the strength of the Statehouse Report, and mandates to fund the Emergency Alert System and the Amber Alert System.

    Cory K. Be mindful that SDPB is one big classroom; big egos can make for cramped space.

  2. I love SDPB. I listen to it all the time. Better yet, South Dakota Public Radio occasionally invites me on as a guest. My mother loves that.

    But for Heaven's sake, guys, the state is 40 million bucks in the hole. How many people are you willing to fire to keep SDPB in the black?

  3. SDPB might consider the same funding path the postal service is contemplating. As a cost saving measure, simply provide services five days a week, from 9 to 5, no evening, Saturday or Sunday programming. The largest expense SDPB has is salaries.

  4. Well, Ken, I'll start by firing any legislators who vote to slash SDPB's funding. That won't save money, but it will save the Republic. ;-)

    Fire people? Why not simply balance the budget through increased taxation?

    Actually, Ken does make a good point that we have to set priorities. If we lay all of the useful programs the state has on the table, we might get to the end of the list and realize we don't have any better choices than to cut useful services like SDPB.

    But is anyone else bothered that we have not even two weeks of the session left, and we still haven't seen a full budget from our Legislature that would allow us to pick through details like this, have a substantial public debate, and look for ways to avoid such cuts?

  5. Well, I faithfully supported SDPB until the very tasteless cartoon it recently ran, and when their next request for funding came, I sent back the request with the statement that as long as they used this type of content, I would no longer support them. Not that they would miss the yearly amount I sent them anyway, but I never heard back from them explaining their reasoning etc in an attempt to keep my support. If they complain about needing money, maybe they should monitor what they view as "funny" and realize that it is not funny to many of their contributors. Personally I would cancel all the state support at this point.

    Linda M

  6. "Why not simply balance the budget through increased taxation? "

    Spoken like a true lib (progressive). Why not simply look for ways to save money currently being spent on no bid contracts, state employee travel, new furniture, excess and redundant state employees? There is waste and redundancy in state gov't and programs. Start there instead of on the backs of the taxpayers!

    Linda M

  7. "Well, I faithfully supported SDPB until the very tasteless cartoon it recently ran, and when their next request for funding came, I sent back the request with the statement that as long as they used this type of content, I would no longer support them."

    What tasteless cartoon was that? The ill-fated Click and Clack garage cartoons is about a;ll I remember.

  8. Cory: Prepare yourself for a shock. I think you are right about the need for more tax revenues. Most states tax too much. There is a pretty good argument that South Dakota taxes too little for the demands its citizens make on their state government.

    But we agree on the need to prioritize. Increased revenues won't solve the problem, they will only make solutions less painful.

  9. "Why not simply balance the budget through increased taxation?"

    Cory, I suspect that you ask that question in a rhetorical sort of way, as a counterpoint to "Why not simply balance the budget by firing people until expenditures fall to match revenues?"

    I listen to the radio a lot, and only two stations around here have any appeal to me at all: KBHU ("The Buzz") and SDPB.

    I would never recommend the firing of any one person, yet I can see the rationale behind across-the-board cuts. To twist Stalin's cynical observation: "One firing constitutes a tragedy; a hundred firings constitutes a statistic."

    We have no easy solution here. I would venture to suggest, however, that in times when businesses and individuals must make sacrifices, it is not unreasonable to demand that the government do the same.

    Why not just raise taxes? Because the people don't want it. Why not just fire people? Because it's cold and inhumane.

    Phooey. We can't win.

  10. Maybe we can't win, Stan (actually, that's exactly what the Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us, right? :-) ), but we can certainly put up a fight. Were I a legislator, I would certainly sit down with my colleagues to work on priorities. But I would come to the table first ready to make a passionte case for SDPB, especially to balance the public broadcasting opponents who would portray SDPB as nothing but a waste of money.


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