Western pulls Tristate Funding

Marc Ramirez, News editor

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Western Illinois University will be making $453,920 in cuts specifically to WIUM Tri States Public Radio, a university radio station at 91.3 FM. Personnel expenditures including payroll are provided by these state appropriated funds, but will no longer be provided as of March 1, 2019.

Darcie Shinberger, assistant vice president for advancement and public services, sent out an email late Friday stating the plan for eliminating funding. Next year, TSPR will become a self-supported organization similar to that of WQPT, a Quad Cities Public Broadcasting station in Moline, IL.

Other than money provided by Western, the station is supported by grants, Western Foundation funds and local revenue sources like advertising. However, money currently being provided by the university is the largest source of income for TSPR.

“When WQPT transferred to WIU from Black Hawk College in 2010, WQPT was required to identify and obtain operating funds for the station, including personnel expenditures,” Shinberger said. “Similar to the WQPT partnership with the University, the WIU Foundation will provide nonprofit status for Tri States Public Radio. The radio station will become a self-funded department within the University structure and will be responsible for generating its revenue needs, including personnel expenditures, effective March 1, 2019.“

Tri State has taken cuts in the past but has been able to conform to minimal impact on listeners; however, TSPR General Manager Jonathan Ahl thinks this will.

This portion of the radios revenue goes towards providing nine of the 12 full-time salaries for staff. Unlike that of faculty, TSPR staff does not have the same contractual obligation on the notice of unemployment.

“The timeframe was not explained to us.” Ahl said when speaking with The McDonough County Voice.

When asked by The Voice what would happen if the university had any contractual, funding, or other obligations with TSPR past their current March 1 deadline, Shinberger explained all obligation such as payroll would not be met through the end of the fiscal year.

Ahl and his supervisor Dean Billy Clow have been creating a cost saving proposal over the course of a few weeks to present what would have allowed TSPR to continue functioning while still taking cuts but were unable to present it to administration.

“I was not invited to, or allowed to, attend any meeting concerning Tri States Public Radio other than individual meetings with Dean Clow. So I don’t know what happened,” Ahl said. “We had that ready to go, and my understanding is that it was not considered, nor was it allowed to be presented.” TSPR has been in service for more than 50 years at Western. The station has expanded tremendously serving over 20 counties in western Illinois, southeast Iowa and northeast Missouri.

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