Navigating Troubled Waters | WAMC

Navigating Troubled Waters

Apr 28, 2020

Well, we continue to keep our heads above water here at WAMC. When I say “we,” I mean it. We have been saying, “We’re all in this together” forever. So now we have a fund drive coming up.  Most of us are at home. We don’t venture out without PPE, masks and gloves, and frankly, we are all pretty scared. One thing that I do know is that an awful lot of folks are listening to WAMC for longer periods of time than ever before. Maybe some of them aren’t driving to work and listening in their cars, but people are listening. We know how many of you are writing to the Panel and, anecdotally, how many people are in touch with each of us.

The problem for WAMC is that certain parts of our income stream are showing signs of slowing down. The good news is that memberships are at an all-time high. People love this radio station and are willing to put something into the locked box. The bad news is that some of our wonderful underwriters are closed up for the pandemic and are really hurting. We love them and thank them for all they have done to keep the station going. It breaks my heart that they are in what I hope proves to be temporary trouble. 

I will tell you what I know, as I always have. The Linda, which produces some of our best programming, is closed and we get that. There are legal guidelines that have been established to keep people safe. Our budget is around $7.5 million dollars and, though the Linda has never made money, now it will cost us money. While these are projections, we expect to lose several hundred thousand dollars from the Linda. The big loss will be on the underwriting side. Here we are projecting more than $500,000 in lost revenue. This makes our hearts fall but we know that there are foundations and businesses that will want to help out because they love the station and feel the need to do something. 

Our wonderful CFO, Jordan Yoxall, advised us to try to obtain some of the available government stimulus funds and did a remarkable job in working with our bank and our accountant, Bill Kahn, to make sure that we qualified. By no means will the money we get from the government begin to cover our losses but it sure is helpful. The program is designed to promote small business staff retention. By extension, we interpret their rules to mean that no one who accepts the money should be saving money on the backs of their workers. WAMC believes in keeping our staff and their families whole. The last thing we want to do is to try to save money by lay-offs, furloughs or forcing our people to take pay cuts. We know that there are enough people depending on WAMC so that if everyone put just a little into our locked box, we would make it. There are some privately held media organizations that are engaging in some of these questionable money-saving activities. That is between them and their consciences. 

We are counting on our members and wonderful listeners to help us get through this. So, as you listen to the Roundtable Panel or the Congressional Corner or the Media Project or the best news operation anywhere, we hope that you will go to wamc.org and play your part by pledging. Without you, we are nothing and we know that.

When we started WAMC, we really had no idea what it would all grow into. My mail box is flooded with testimonials from people who have listened to a lot of public radio but swear that we are the best. We’re counting on you to keep it going in these terrible times. We love you all. You make it worth it.