All the News That’s Fit

An interesting report just came out — the Radio Television Digital News Association/Hofstra University Annual Survey of TV and radio salaries — and it just might cause a bit of consternation at our public radio stations. It has to do with the salaries paid news directors and reporters on the airwaves. In some cases, they seem to be a bit out of line.

At KUT in Austin, for one, the suits brought in Emily Donahue to be news director and her husband, Dave Brown, from L.A. at a premium: Emily for $81,000 a year and Dave for $84,000 (as a deejay, he was paid more than any of the existing deejays, many of whom were subsequently downsized following a management plea of poverty). These numbers were for 2008-2009, as seen in the open records bought and paid for by Austin Airwaves and saveKUTaustin. KUT, you see, doesn’t release its finances, despite receiving taxpayer funding and public donations, hiding behind its UT overlords. This information had to be pried free.

You can see from the following pages how these salaries compare nationwide, both in the average paid and the maximum paid, as well as the amount paid in different size markets (click on them to enlarge):

If numbers are available from your public radio station, consider yourself among the lucky enlightened. You might take a look and see how salaries compare there.

It might also be interesting to note if your public radio station is involved in NPR’s Argo Project, its attempt to “consolidate” local public stations into a news network — aided, of course, by some seed money provided by your taxpayer dollars supplied by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. KUT has spent a considerable amount of money on upgrading its local news to show that it’s a team player. And as Jeff Boudreau pointed out, both WGBH and WBUR show up prominently here, in a story about some of these willing participants — WBUR (bought up by ‘GBH) doing a show called “CommonHealth” and WGBH doing “Climatide.”

Are these stations throwing money at the problem because they feel becoming news hounds best serves the public interest? Or are they just being good dogs?

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