As KPCC continues to reinvent what it means to be a public radio station, The Wrap reports, the station is undergoing some internal growing pains. Radio staffers are still chafing at being led into the new era by print journalism veterans — "I work at a radio station that's trying to be a website that's run by newspaper people," one staffer said, anonymously — and there's still disgruntlement among listeners over the swap of Madeleine Brand for the duo of Alex Cohen and A Martinez and the dropping of Patt Morrison's show. It's all wrapped up in concerns about the station's financial stability, says the Wrap, although editor Russ Stanton says the station has no current funding issues and the story doesn't offer any counter evidence.
In fact, I don't see any real evidence of trouble with money, ratings or the overall direction of KPCC — just anecdotal concerns from a few unnamed staffers and listeners who think the Brand tradeoff was a trade down. The story doesn't deal with the union tensions that some current and former staffers talk about in the wake of January's divisive newsroom campaign and January vote to bring in union representation. Some of the key activists in the union drive have been let go, though other prominent union advocates remain.
Even The Wrap story acknowledges ratings and web traffic are up, and it didn't find any financial crisis. So what the hey?
Here's some of the meat:
Since his arrival, Stanton has lost or cut 14 people from the newsroom and hired 34 others, many of them reporters. The position of longtime program director Craig Curtis, who left in February, will be filled next month; senior news editor Cheryl Devall followed Curtis out the door. Tony Pierce, who had edited KPCC's blogs and assisted in its social media networks, lost his job the same month.
Neither Stanton nor executive editor Melanie Sill, formerly of the Sacramento Bee, had radio experience before coming to KPCC.
"If you're truly trying to do something that's new and different on the radio, is hiring a newspaper person the right person to do that?" one former employee said.
KPCC's overall ratings share, according to Arbitron, has stayed fairly steady over the past year, and weekly cumulative audiences have grown over that same time.
And Stanton says that KPCC has added sustaining members during his tenure, not lost them, and nearly doubled its fundraising take over the last four years -- from $6.75 million in fiscal year 2010 to $10.67 million in fiscal year 2013 from listener support and membership revenue.
According to its most recent financial report for the period ending June 30, 2012, Southern California Public Radio, of which KPCC is part, individual gifts and membership revenue decreased almost 8 percent by about $900,000 from fiscal year 2011, though foundational and governmental support nearly quadrupled to nearly $6 million, bringing SCPR's total take in 2012 above 2011's. The report for the period ending June 30, 2013, which covers the tumultuous past year, is not yet available.
There is this: "Take Two," the show hosted by Cohen and Martinez, has not attracted the national syndication deals that were apparently part of the justification for going two hours in the morning with the pair. For what it's worth, today's segments on the cap and trade controversy with environment reporter Molly Peterson and carbon trading crime with an Interpol official, and an explainer on the details of Obamacare, were very informative.
Previously on LA Observed:
Madeleine Brand joining KCRW for new daily show
KPCC adds investigations producer from 'SoCal Connected'
KPCC adds six shows to nights and weekends, shifts others
KPCC has more staff photographers than Chicago Sun-Times
Program director Craig Curtis leaves KPCC
LA Weekly digs into the turmoil at KPCC
KPCC president to address changes on the air
Photo of Martinez and Cohen: KPCC