A Note About Federal Funding for Public Media and KEXP

Gabriel Teodros / photo by Morgen Schuler

By Tom Mara, KEXP Executive Director

Recently, many KEXP listeners have reached out to me to express concern about the future of federal support for public media through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or CPB. This morning, we learned that President Trump’s proposed budget includes the elimination of federal funding for CPB. This past year, KEXP received around 10% of our annual budget from CPB through a Community Service Grant.

In the coming weeks and months, Congress will consider the President’s budget proposal and come up with a spending plan of their own. At this point, we don’t know if that budget will include funding for CPB or not.


As an independent nonprofit, KEXP understands that it’s prudent to receive funding from as many different sources as possible. Of course, when we say that KEXP is listener-powered, we mean it. Individual donors represent the largest percentage of our funding mix. In addition to your support, the KEXP programming you love is also powered by donations from local businesses, local government, foundations and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

KEXP’s Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting helps support our general operations as a public broadcaster. It pays for some basic essentials that help us bring you music programming every day of the year.


This grant also makes possible the creation of original live performance programming that is distributed free of charge to dozens of college stations across the country and around the world. This program, Under the Needle, features the very best of in-studio performances captured by KEXP. It is designed to be shared with student and public stations all over the world who don’t have access to the technology or space required to host these performances, or who would not otherwise be able to feature the types of artists who are drawn to play in our studio.

Particularly important for music-centered stations like KEXP, CPB also helps negotiate music rights and pay music royalties for public broadcasters.

At its core, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting helps stations like ours provide ad-free radio programming that enriches and informs, in a way that just isn’t available elsewhere in the commercial media landscape. For KEXP, this funding ensures that we are able to provide universal free access to music and performance to all communities, regardless of income, geographic location, or any other qualifier.

We will no doubt learn more about the future for public media in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, I encourage you to share your story about how public media impacts your life at by sending me an email at tom@kexp.org.

As always, you can support KEXP and ensure that great music programming will continue to be here for you and your family for years to come by making a gift at kexp.org/donate.

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  1. Kevin
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink


    This is about the best written “info response” I’ve ever read. In the current political environment, it is refreshing, R E F R E S H I N G, to read informative explanations without having to filter through the editorial bias.

    I appreciate the craftful manner in which you demonstrated exactly how much public funding will impact your operating budget, and how that support manifests itself in the programs that KEXP offers. Giving the reader an opportunity to reaffirm the value that your organization provides, as well as an avenue through which he/she can contribute to the ongoing (non-public) listener support, is a great way to end the article.

    Again, please know that your efforts to address the concerns of your valued audience, have not been in vain.

    Respectfully listening from afar,

    Kevin Ammons
    Charleston, SC

  2. Brent Wilcox
    Posted March 22, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink


    I also want to thank you for such an insightful and informative posting about the potential future of funding for the arts. I think it is important to keep in mind that the budget draft just presented to Congress is just that, a draft. There will be myriad amendments to it not only in the House but also the Senate. This is a good time to “write your congressperson” and express our views and concerns.

    Nevertheless, it appears we are in for a time of less funding from the federal level of local and statewide things that are nevertheless important to us. And important to so many people across the nation and the world. It seems that if a majority of these listeners and partakers of the experiences KEXP offers will step up and donate a few dollars then I submit the loss of federal funding will not be the end of the world. We’ll have to see how the budget really pans out.

    As one of the founders of KEXP (as KCMU back in 1972) I continue to be amazed how immense the reach of KEXP is around the country and the world. Little did we know nailing together the plywood studio way back then that the seeds we planted would have such a lasting effect on people, music, and music appreciation.

    Music is important and vital in my life. Yes, I listen to many of the programs the station offers, among other stations, but I also perform in the chorus of the very spendid Spokane Symphony Orchestra.

    We need more music in people’s lives, in all genres and all ages. Thank you for being part of my life even after 45 years!

    Brent Wilcox
    Spokane, WA

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