Naked City

A Leaner, Meaner KLRU

With corporate media feeling pressure from the recent economic downturn, nonprofit media has endured an even tighter squeeze. On Nov. 9, KLRU-TV distributed eight pink slips to its employees as part of its "reorganization." "In light of what has been happening to a lot of nonprofits, not only here in Austin but around the country, [we] need to be able to respond a little quicker to some things," said Station Manager John McCarroll. "Of course, a part of that is economic."

Asked if the PBS affiliate is having cash flow problems, McCarroll said two of the station's national underwriters for Austin City Limits went out of business midway into the season, requiring the station to absorb the costs out of its operating budget. One of the underwriters was Agillion; the other was an anonymous underwriter that KLRU refused to name.

A KLRU press release on the reorganization said the station eliminated its internal print shop and will now use contract labor to fulfill information technology and administrative needs. The station is also canning staffers such as Austin City Limits publicist Pat Cosgrove and others who have worked "on projects which have been substantially completed." As for Cosgrove, McCarroll says his responsibility had been handling ticket distribution to shows. "We only have two more tapings left [for the current season]," McCarroll said, adding that those will finish on Dec. 7. KLRU might contract with Cosgrove in the future, he added.

"I think what we're trying to do, for example, is respond quicker to things like Sept. 11," McCarroll said. KLRU has been "inundated" with nonprofit organizations that want the station to conduct and broadcast town hall meetings on particular topics. "We're just trying to be able to do those quicker, and we're responding to what people are asking us to do."

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