Current’s first study of executive compensation and financial reporting in public media examined the most recent financial documents available for 85 public television and radio stations in the top 25 markets. Radio Research Consortium and TRAC Media provided lists of stations included in the designated market areas. Current narrowed the sample to include radio stations with coverage of at least a portion of the market and television stations licensed to that market.
The seven national organizations represented include CPB and the largest distributors of public media content, as well as Radio Bilingue and Pacifica, which operate stations in the top markets.
Due to differences in the timeliness of financial reporting by public media organizations, Current included top executives identified in each organization’s most recent IRS Form 990 or equivalent filing, which spanned from 2012 to 2014.
TV and radio stations in the top 25 markets
|Executive Name||Licensee Name||City||State||Broadcast Market||Compensation||Station Expenses||Source Form Year||License Type||Radio/TV/Joint|
|Jack Allen||All Classical Portland||Portland||OR||Portland||$170,615||$3,151,928||2013||Community||Radio|
|Kelly McCullough||Arizona PBS||Phoenix||AZ||Phoenix||$177,547||$14,426,310||2015||University||TV|
|Rick Eytcheson||Capital Public Radio||Sacramento||CA||Sacramento-Stockton||$230,922||$8,564,208||2013||University||Radio|
|Torey Malatia||Chicago Public Media||Chicago||IL||Chicago||$303,679||$23,717,463||2013||Community||Radio|
|Jennifer Ridewood||Classical KING FM||Seattle||WA||Seattle-Tacoma||$191,060||$3,257,833||2013||Community||Radio|
|Max Wycisk||Colorado Public Radio||Denver||CO||Denver||$234,057||$11,851,382||2012||Community||Radio|
|Kimberly Johnson||Colorado Public Television||Denver||CO||Denver||$127,818||$3,603,431||2013||Community||TV|
|Jerry Franklin||Connecticut Public Broadcasting||Fairfield||CT||New York||$388,168||$18,264,187||2013||Community||Joint|
|Rich Homberg||Detroit Public Television||Detroit||MI||Detroit||$333,657||$18,666,807||2013||Community||Joint|
|Teya Ryan||Georgia Public Broadcasting||Atlanta||GA||Atlanta||$209,485||$33,843,387||2014||State||Joint|
|Lisa Trapani Shumate||Houston Public Media||Houston||TX||Houston||$269,840||$23,394,757||2014||University||Joint|
|Matt Martin||KALW||San Francisco||CA||San Francisco||$118,293||$2,273,661||2013||School||Radio|
|Ed Ulman||KBTC Public Television||Tacoma||WA||Seattle-Tacoma||$89,000||$5,925,071||2014||University||TV|
|Albert Jerome||KCETLink||Los Angeles||CA||Los Angeles||$186,916||$29,971,162||2013||Community||TV|
|Jennifer Ferro||KCRW||Santa Monica||CA||Los Angeles||$311,523||$17,239,025||2013||University||Radio|
|Dante Betteo||KCSM||San Mateo||CA||San Francisco||$150,668||$4,727,873||2012||University||Joint|
|Bill Lueth||KDFC||San Francisco||CA||San Francisco||$255,852||$4,691,982||2013||University||Radio|
|Mary Anne Alhadeff||KERA||Dallas||TX||Dallas-Ft Worth||$478,564||$20,069,838||2013||Community||Joint|
|Sabrina Fair Thomas||KLCS||Los Angeles||CA||Los Angeles||$133,029||$5,120,884||2013||School||TV|
|John Boland||KQED||San Francisco||CA||San Francisco||$470,383||$67,381,447||2013||Community||Joint|
|Nancy Dobbs||KRCB||Cotati||CA||San Francisco||$95,384||$3,030,711||2013||Community||Joint|
|Brenda Barnes||KUSC||Los Angeles||CA||Los Angeles||$226,012||$10,548,746||2014||University||Radio|
|Alfredo Cruz||KVCR||San Bernardino||CA||Los Angeles||$129,095||$4,130,378||2012||University||Joint|
|Stephen Schram||Michigan Radio||Ann Arbor||MI||Detroit||$229,500||$7,121,776||2014||University||Radio|
|Howard Blumenthal||MiND TV||Philadelphia||PA||Philadelphia||$165,295||$1,657,022||2012||Community||TV|
|Laura Walker||New York Public Radio||New York City||NY||New York||$790,115||$64,642,130||2013||Community||Radio|
|Jack Galmiche||Nine Network||St. Louis||MO||St. Louis||$305,077||$8,869,456||2013||Community||TV|
|John Servidio||NJTV||Camden||NJ||New York||$233,641||$8,821,737||2013||Community||TV|
|Staci Hoste||Northern Public Radio||DeKalb||IL||Chicago||$100,800||$3,206,013||2014||University||Radio|
|James Muhammad||Northwest Indiana Public Broadcasting||Gary||IN||Chicago||$117,000||$4,474,298||2013||Community||Joint|
|Steve Bass||Oregon Public Broadcasting||Portland||OR||Portland||$394,921||$28,867,044||2013||Community||Joint|
|Mel Rogers||PBS SoCal||Huntington Beach||CA||Los Angeles||$322,200||$14,080,789||2013||Community||TV|
|Milton Clipper||Public Broadcasting Atlanta||Atlanta||GA||Atlanta||$304,136||$12,734,776||2013||School||Joint|
|Douglas Price||Rocky Mountain PBS||Denver||CO||Denver||$208,381||$15,541,560||2013||Community||TV|
|Bill Davis||Southern California Public Radio||Pasadena||CA||Los Angeles||$441,535||$25,331,069||2013||Community||Radio|
|Tim Eby||St. Louis Public Radio||St. Louis||MO||St Louis||$140,709||$7,879,159||2014||University||Radio|
|James Pagliarini||Twin Cities Public Television||St. Paul||MN||Minneapolis-St Paul||$382,234||$31,268,163||2013||Community||TV|
|Amy Gladstein||WBGO||Newark||NJ||New York||$143,120||$5,170,673||2013||Community||Radio|
|Dan Bindert||WDCB||Glen Ellyn||IL||Chicago||$77,065||$1,658,706||2014||University||Radio|
|Susan Howarth||WEDU PBS||Tampa||FL||Tampa-St Petersburg||$190,365||$7,026,114||2012||Community||TV|
|Trina Cutter||Western Reserve Public Media||Kent||OH||Cleveland||$156,251||$4,424,812||2013||University||TV|
|Sharon Rockefeller||WETA||Washington||DC||Washington DC||$468,536||$71,399,258||2013||Community||Joint|
|John LaBonia||WLRN||Miami||FL||Miami-Ft Lauderdale||$135,586||$15,416,152||2014||School||Joint|
|Neal Shapiro||WNET||New York City||NY||New York||$541,104||$127,094,889||2013||Community||TV|
|Dolores Sukhdeo||WPBT||Miami||FL||Miami-Ft Lauderdale||$189,611||$12,299,181||2013||Community||TV|
|Wally Smith||WPPB||Southampton||NY||New York||$36,000||$1,029,274||2013||Community||Radio|
|Connie Walker||WUNC Radio||Chapel Hill||NC||Raleigh-Durham||$150,014||$7,921,456||2014||University||Radio|
|Gail Zimmerman||WUNC-TV||Chapel Hill||NC||Charlotte||$180,856||$27,453,113||2014||University||TV|
|JoAnn Urofsky||WUSF||Tampa||FL||Tampa-St Petersburg||$145,858||$4,581,663||2014||University||Joint|
|Jon McTaggart||American Public Media Group||$595,528||$19,647,465||2013|
|Patricia de Stacy Harrison||CPB||$434,364||$461,876,075||2013|
|Hugo Morales||Radio Bilingüe||$125,925||$1,151,343||2013|
|Arlene Engelhardt||Pacifica Foundation||$108,253||$7,337,371||2012|
Of course, you realize the typical worker bee in these stations, as well as commercial broadcast stations typically make around $25,000 to $45,000 annually.
Which is ridiculous and unfortunate.
Nonetheless. That’s what it is. Been that way all 44 years I’ve been in radio. TV money isn’t what it used to be, either.
Neither is the talent!
If this list goes viral, I can envision a
substantial – and justifiable – public backlash. Don’t many Pub Radio
stations tell their listeners at Pledge Time “we need your $50 to keep the
lights on”? Many might now say – justifiably – that you need the $50 to help pay your GM their
I’d like to think most public radio donors are smarter than that. This list is largely meaningless without accounting for cost-of-living in the market the person lives in. For example, I know the Boston market very well, having lived there from 1996 to 2007 (and in nearby Providence RI from 2012 to present) and I can tell you that even $490,000 doesn’t go nearly as far as you might think. If you expect your GM to live relatively nearby (as would be prudent) then even a moderate-sized house could easily be WELL over a million dollars in the neighborhoods surrounding WGBH’s Brighton studios. A “cheap” condo (not a house, a condo) would still be $400k or $500k, at least.
At least the list includes station expenses, which is a blunt tool for roughly determining revenue at best, but it does give you an idea of the overall size of the enterprise. If you’ve got a GM who’s out there schmoozing with major donors all day every day and pulling in a few million a year from it, I don’t see the problem with them being well-paid for it.
Not to pick on WGBH too much, but for the sake of argument, let’s say the average worker is paid around $70k/yr (remember: it’s expensive as hell to live there, 1 bed apartments average rent is $2000/mo, so $70k is not “well-paid” in the Boston area, it’s “high entry level” or “low mid-range”). That’s still a 7:1 ratio of CEO pay to worker pay. That’s not too bad, really. It’s a little higher than what most US workers think is “ideal” (6.7:1) but faaaaar below what the ratio actually IS for most CEO’s (354:1)
And it should be pointed out that pubcasting pledge drives stay away from “give us money or we’ll go off the air” pitches (and its cousin, “call now or we won’t go back to ‘Morning Edition'”) unless they are genuinely in deep financial trouble. They’ve all learned that that approach runs the risk of crying wolf once too often.
The thing is that a certain sector of the public media audience will object to anything and everything and use it as a reason not to support, usually citing more direct government support through taxing of commercial broadcasters or a BBC-style license fee, conveniently forgetting that unless the political atmosphere in this country makes an enormous change, that will never happen.
Aaron Read you work for public radio. You are nothing but an apologist for that industry.
Actually, salaries are easily and WIDELY available online at Charity Navigator or GuideStar.
That is not accurate. That is only true for stations that file IRS 990 forms. State licensees and University Licensees generally do not file 990s at the station level, or in some cases at all.
If the station is a State or state university licensee, then its even easier to find with a little bit of effort. Yes, you need to be a non-profit organization to file a 990, so I am accurate.
1) You’re not quite right about that, see link dccajun provided. 2) Taking information from many different sources and putting it together in an easy-to-consume form is literally what journalists do, and they do it for a reason.
Keep it rolling. Here’s the salary for WXXI (like #51 or so), 11.5 mill expenses in 2014 according to their 990 : CEO/President gets 393,196.00
reporter range 38,000 – 42,000.
Why you are showing compensation and expenses in these table? Is there some relationship between them that you are trying to convey? What are you trying to say?
I didn’t write this article, but expenses seem to me to be as good a metric as any of how big an organization is. It makes sense to me that executives at big organizations would get paid more than executives at small ones. More responsibility.
Also worth considering: Being a public radio GM is like being a public radio engineer; you don’t WORK at a job like that, you LIVE it. You are “on” at all hours of the day or night. It’s a lot like being a college president, where you’re less a person and more a figurehead that’s the human stand-in for an entire institution. A lot of your personal life by definition gets consumed by the job. There is no “being off the clock”. So again, for a GM that does that job well? I have no issue with them being well-paid for it.
Mind you, this a slippery slope indeed. I know plenty of college presidents who take this concept and basically execute a shakedown on the college as a result. It’s a lot like being the CEO of a major corporation. You’re no longer being paid because of your skillset…you’re being paid because of who you know (and thus who you can get money from). That almost invariably sets off an “arms race” and before you know it, you’ve got institutional leaders who’re getting seven- and eight-figure salaries while their job performance is no different (if not WORSE) than a lot of people being paid far less. Fortunately you don’t see that happening much in public broadcasting, at least not yet.
And looks like Brenda Barnes of Classical KUSC in Los angeles got a $112,000 raise to total salary of $338,548 . Not bad and I don’t know if that’s excessive for a non-profit station doing the begging for money pledges at least 3 times a year. Perhaps equitable for that position and locale considering the very hight cost of living in that market.
I’m actually surprised that none of the hosts come up in the higher salaries listed in above link (i.e, that apparent;y they all get below $178,000)
I don’t want my NPR to be operated at a quality level comparable to say; the V.A. Consequently I approve of pay that is competitive with private sector. If we want to set maximum limits on public AND private sector that works for me. I would set them at a reasonable multiple of the average line worker.