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WBUR budgetary needs

Some folks are asking me what WBUR is spending $18 million annually on.  I 
have some informed speculation on that...

1: OnPoint - this show is costing them a lot of money ($15000 per week I 
hear - $780k annually), but also is getting them a LOT of ratings.  It's 
made WBUR into serious competition against Brudnoy on WBZ.   A lot of the 
money spend on the show is no doubt Tom Ashbrook's salary which must've 
been hefty to lure him to WBUR (remember Chris Lydon was getting something 
like $200k/yr in salary, I'll bet Ashbrook's not quite that high but not 
that far from it).  Jack Beatty also is getting a pretty penny too I'd 
imagine.  Figure in a couple of producers, a tech director, and a show 
director and you're talking real money there.

2: WRNI - BUR has poured a lot of money into WRNI trying to get a more 
viable signal with middling results. WRNI has tried to get more 
underwriting to help pay for itself but in this economic scene it's been 
tough.  Whenever I listen to WRNI whilst driving down to CT to visit the 
'rents I hear precious little underwriting in the breaks.  I hope that WRNI 
is getting enough ROI for them - I really like the concept.

3: NPR fees - have gone up big time in the past few years.  Hence why 
there's more BBC and less NPR shows on WBUR these days.

4: War coverage - WBUR spent a fortune having Dick Gordon doing the 
Connection live from Iraq.  Personally, I thought it was a nice concept, 
but probably not worth the outrageous cost.   And now they're trying to 
send him there again.  Yikes!   There have been a lot of other war coverage 
costs, too (Iraq and Afghanistan)...WBUR's telco bill for satellite phones, 
ISDN and regular POTS is something like $900,000.

5: Fundraising costs - the old adage of that you gotta spend money to make 
money is true, but I think they might be going overboard with all the 
contests and Citizens of the World things they do these days.  I wonder 
what the ROI really is on those things...maybe they're justified but I 
can't help but think it seems so extravagant that some donors are turned 
off by it.

6: Upper management salaries - always a favorite target of mine, but not 
all that valid a target.  The upper management circle at WBUR is well paid 
to be yes men to Queen Jane.  I'm sure Jane is well paid too.  But by the 
same token, I'll bet it's not all that extreme.  Six figures for most of 
them?  Almost certainly, but I'll bet not all that far into six figures. Is 
that really so extreme compared to the commercial world?   Also consider 
that WBUR really isn't a "public radio" station in the traditional sense 
anymore...they're almost a content depot already, and public radio news 
stations/networks are re-defining the concept of "public radio" into 
something more commercial-like but without a lot of the more offensive 
aspects of modern commercial news (IMHO).   What was an obscene amount of 
money ten years ago is the norm today.

7: Web development - WBUR has a huge web department compared to many 
stations.  Here I have to hand it to them - they started out a day late and 
a dollar short but since then they've embraced the potential of the web 
with a venegance.  It's still a work in progress, but as radio broadcast 
migrates to a more interactive paradigm (HD Radio and the Tomorrow Radio 
project) WBUR will be well-positioned to take full advantage of it.

Aaron "Bishop" Read             aread@speakeasy.net
FriedBagels Consulting          AOL-IM: readaaron
http://www.friedbagels.com      Boston, MA