KUHA Houston Cuts Airstaff Amidst Fundraising Woes

Classical 91.7 KUHA Houston 88.7 KUHF Layoffs CutsA poor fundraising campaign is being blamed for Classical 91.7 KUHA Houston’s decision to lay off four on-air hosts and a handful of off-air personnel today.

CultureMap Houston reports that the cuts were made after a nine day fundraising campaign that ended last Friday left KUHA $74,000 short of its $200,000 goal while sister NPR News/Talk 88.7 KUHF fell $200,000 short of its $1 million goal.

On-air hosts Bob Stevenson, Elaine Kennedy, Chris Johnson and Chris Hathaway were all dismissed today and replaced by American Public Media’s “Classical 24” Network. The local arts and music program “The Front Row” was also cancelled with the cuts.

KUHF agreed to purchase then KTRU from Rice University for $9.5 Million in 2010. It began operating the station as All-Classical KUHA in May 2011.

  1. Joseph_Gallant says

    Sadly, this isn’t surprising for KUHA-91.7, since public radio stations that program music formats usually don’t get the amount of money from listener donations like news/information stations such as KUHF-88.7.

    However, I was surprised that even the news/in formation formatted KUHF fell well short of its fundraising goal.

  2. MattParker says

    I suspect we will be seeing more stories like this. What’s been happening to commercial radio is also happening to public radio. Fewer people listen. People who listen listen less. Listeners are less satisfied.
    What other businesses call the “customer satisfaction index” or “happy customer index” is dropping for public radio.
    For music formats (classical, jazz and alternative), there are better ways to get “your music” today. For talk formats (news and information), public radio has been altering its content to draw younger demos and to appeal to corporate advertisers – I mean “underwriters.” It’s not really drawing younger demos by dumbing down news content and running long features on hip-hop performers but it is alienating long-standing baby boomer listeners who were always public radio’s core audience. They also have started skewing rightward in pursuit of corporate money and to avoid charges of “liberal bias.”
    Public radio has long been able to keep dissatisfied listeners by being the only game in town. No more commercial classical or jazz stations. Commercial radio has abandoned long-form news. But, thanks to new media, listeners have non-broadcast options.
    On top of everything those pledge drives have never been effective, except at alienating listeners. They resemble nothing as much as a Jerry Lewis telethon. But public radio insists on doing them and on setting arbitrary goals they won’t reach (and then blaming the audience).

  3. johndavis says

    Well, it should be said that UH disputes and denies the leaked fundraising figures that CultureMap reported.

    I suspect there’s some politics going on here more than anything else.

    …and Matt, I wouldn’t say that KUHF is dumbing down its content for a younger audience. They are slowly rolling out a local midday show that’s far from dumb, and they own the drive times 25-54, so they have to be doing something right.

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