Reports are circulating that the U.S. House of Representatives could take action as early as next week to eliminate federal funding for public broadcasting. Eliminate it. This year's federal appropriation for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes funding to local public radio and TV stations across the country, is $430 million, with public radio's share of that appropriation amounting to only 32 cents per capita.
Our listeners are generous with WAMU 88.5; your gifts leverage a 6 percent match of federal money, and WAMU receives just under $1 million annually in federal funding. Federal funds pay for critical components of our programming schedule and allow YOUR dollars to be invested in local & regional programming and the infrastructure to keep the station operating. Programs like The Diane Rehm Show, The Kojo Nnamdi Show, Morning Edition, and All Things Considered foster civil discourse and lifelong learning, while shows like Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, Hot Jazz Saturday Night, and Car Talk help you enjoy your time spent listening – and your life – just a bit more.
It's true that federal funding is a relatively small percentage of our operating budget, but should that funding disappear, $1 million is a daunting amount to supplant. WAMU 88.5 could be faced with hard choices about our programming service. Also, many of our colleague stations in rural or economically hard-hit areas depend on federal funding for their very survival.
In creating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1967, Congress determined that "it is in the public interest to encourage the growth and development of public radio and television broadcasting, including the use of such media for instructional, education and cultural purposes." In the 44 years that have followed this Act of Congress, public broadcasting has pursued this mission with extraordinary success.
Every American has a vested interest in the decisions made by our Congress, and all Americans have the right to contact our Representatives and Senators to express our concerns and the perspective from our corner of the country. Should you be as concerned about the future of public broadcasting as I now am, please consider if now is the appropriate time for you to reach out to your own congressional representative. You may learn more at wamu.org. Thank you for your support of WAMU 88.5.