Unfortunate Transformation of KUT-FM

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 14, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Media Watch: Unwinding the Twine at KUT” [News, Aug. 7]: Remember when KUT was a haven from the commercial onslaught? We've been witnessing an unfortunate transformation there – a nonprofit radio station starting to operate very much like a commercial station. The general manager essentially confirms this in the current public service announcement running to defend the Paul Ray and Larry Monroe cutbacks; "Listenership to our weeknight music programs has been flat." That provokes a key question: Why would a nonprofit radio station need to measure listenership? Isn't it commercial stations that rely on ratings so they can set prices for advertisers? Yes to the latter, and "flat listenership" threatens the recruitment and retainment of advertisers.
    I heard that nearly half of station revenue now comes from business sponsors. As this trend continues we can expect: 1) more individual listeners to decide they can't bring themselves to write a check to a station that plays commercials, 2) more driveway moments interrupted by "Support for KUT comes from Steiner Ranch" spots, and 3) less niche programming like that provided by the likes of Paul Ray and Larry Monroe.
    If you want less of a station that's sounding a lot more like KGSR every day, then demand that KUT veer off the slippery slope toward commercial radio on which it's now sliding. And when you patronize one of KUT's sponsors, ask them this question: “Would you keep up your sponsorship if they didn't play your ads?”
Stu Wilson
   [Editor's note: According to information provided by KUT, "Of total income received in Fiscal Year 2008-09, corporate/business revenue is 40% of overall receipts, and membership contributions are 43% of overall receipts." The remainder comes from "grants, program fees, some small miscellaneous sources … and UT appropriations."]
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