Atlanta pubcasters’ salaries scrutinized

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Fresh off of public radio pledge-drive season, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines compensation packages of top execs of Georgia’s largest pubcasting stations, Public Broadcasting Atlanta and Georgia Public Broadcasting, the statewide public TV and radio network.

With a raise that recently boosted his compensation to $280,000, WPBA chief Milton Clipper is the highest paid among them, and four members of his executive team made more than $180,000 in fiscal 2009, according to AJC.

GPB’s Teya Ryan receives a base pay of $180,000, but with bonus incentives could earn much as $210,000. Three additional GPB execs earn six-figure salaries.

“In its review, the AJC found that Public Broadcasting Atlanta pays its top executives more than GPB does, although GPB is a statewide system with twice the budget,” writes reporter Richard Halicks. “GPB operates nine TV stations in Georgia and 17 radio stations as well. PBA operates one of each.”

Clipper’s salary has grown from $80,000 in 1994, when he began leading WPBA-TV and WABE-FM, stations owned by the Atlanta Public Schools. WPBA’s annual budget has grown from $3.5 million to roughly $12 million under Clipper’s leadership, according to WPBA lay leader Kevin Ross, and the $1 million operating subsidy once provided by the school system is no longer necessary.

“We feel like the entire community that PBA serves gets tremendous value from Milton and from his senior staff,” says Ross, who as vice-chair of the WPBA board sits on the compensation committee. “We are widely regarded as one of the best operations in public broadcasting around the country.”

Both pubcasting operations use salary surveys to set executive compensation levels.