The numbers: What top executives are making

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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 NameLicensee NameCityStateBroadcast MarketCompensationStation ExpensesSource Form YearLicense TypeRadio/TV/Joint
Jack AllenAll Classical PortlandPortlandORPortland$170,615$3,151,9282013CommunityRadio
Kelly McCulloughArizona PBSPhoenixAZPhoenix$177,547$14,426,3102015UniversityTV
Rick EytchesonCapital Public RadioSacramentoCASacramento-Stockton$230,922$8,564,2082013UniversityRadio
Torey MalatiaChicago Public MediaChicagoILChicago$303,679$23,717,4632013CommunityRadio
Jennifer RidewoodClassical KING FMSeattleWASeattle-Tacoma$191,060$3,257,8332013CommunityRadio
Max WyciskColorado Public RadioDenverCODenver$234,057$11,851,3822012CommunityRadio
Kimberly JohnsonColorado Public TelevisionDenverCODenver$127,818$3,603,4312013CommunityTV
Jerry FranklinConnecticut Public BroadcastingFairfieldCTNew York$388,168$18,264,1872013CommunityJoint
Rich HombergDetroit Public TelevisionDetroitMIDetroit$333,657$18,666,8072013CommunityJoint
Teya RyanGeorgia Public BroadcastingAtlantaGAAtlanta$209,485$33,843,3872014StateJoint
Lisa Trapani ShumateHouston Public MediaHoustonTXHouston$269,840$23,394,7572014UniversityJoint
Jerrold WarehamideastreamClevelandOHCleveland$354,829$22,224,7212013CommunityJoint
Matt MartinKALWSan FranciscoCASan Francisco$118,293$2,273,6612013SchoolRadio
Ed UlmanKBTC Public TelevisionTacomaWASeattle-Tacoma$89,000$5,925,0712014UniversityTV
Albert JeromeKCETLinkLos AngelesCALos Angeles$186,916$29,971,1622013CommunityTV
Jennifer FerroKCRWSanta MonicaCALos Angeles$311,523$17,239,0252013UniversityRadio
Dante BetteoKCSMSan MateoCASan Francisco$150,668$4,727,8732012UniversityJoint
Maurice BresnahanKCTSSeattleWASeattle-Tacoma$303,723$16,641,4572013CommunityTV
Bill LuethKDFCSan FranciscoCASan Francisco$255,852$4,691,9822013UniversityRadio
Mary Anne AlhadeffKERADallasTXDallas-Ft Worth$478,564$20,069,8382013CommunityJoint
Tom MaraKEXPSeattleWASeattle-Tacoma$197,232$6,109,2172013UniversityRadio
Jim PaluzziKJZZPhoenixAZPhoenix$141,466$11,260,2802014UniversityJoint
Sabrina Fair ThomasKLCSLos AngelesCALos Angeles$133,029$5,120,8842013SchoolTV
Joey CohnKPLUTacomaWASeattle-Tacoma$125,000$8,310,9702014UniversityRadio
John BolandKQEDSan FranciscoCASan Francisco$470,383$67,381,4472013CommunityJoint
Nancy DobbsKRCBCotatiCASan Francisco$95,384$3,030,7112013CommunityJoint
Brenda BarnesKUSCLos AngelesCALos Angeles$226,012$10,548,7462014UniversityRadio
Alfredo CruzKVCRSan BernardinoCALos Angeles$129,095$4,130,3782012UniversityJoint
David LoweKVIESacramentoCASacramento-Stockton$214,389$10,555,0952013CommunityTV
Stephen SchramMichigan RadioAnn ArborMIDetroit$229,500$7,121,7762014UniversityRadio
Howard BlumenthalMiND TVPhiladelphiaPAPhiladelphia$165,295$1,657,0222012CommunityTV
Laura WalkerNew York Public RadioNew York CityNYNew York$790,115$64,642,1302013CommunityRadio
Jack GalmicheNine NetworkSt. LouisMOSt. Louis$305,077$8,869,4562013CommunityTV
John ServidioNJTVCamdenNJNew York$233,641$8,821,7372013CommunityTV
Staci HosteNorthern Public RadioDeKalbILChicago$100,800$3,206,0132014UniversityRadio
James MuhammadNorthwest Indiana Public BroadcastingGaryINChicago$117,000$4,474,2982013CommunityJoint
Steve BassOregon Public BroadcastingPortlandORPortland$394,921$28,867,0442013CommunityJoint
Mel RogersPBS SoCalHuntington BeachCALos Angeles$322,200$14,080,7892013CommunityTV
Milton ClipperPublic Broadcasting AtlantaAtlantaGAAtlanta$304,136$12,734,7762013SchoolJoint
Douglas PriceRocky Mountain PBSDenverCODenver$208,381$15,541,5602013CommunityTV
Bill DavisSouthern California Public RadioPasadenaCALos Angeles$441,535$25,331,0692013CommunityRadio
Tim EbySt. Louis Public RadioSt. LouisMOSt Louis$140,709$7,879,1592014UniversityRadio
James PagliariniTwin Cities Public TelevisionSt. PaulMNMinneapolis-St Paul$382,234$31,268,1632013CommunityTV
Amy GladsteinWBGONewarkNJNew York$143,120$5,170,6732013CommunityRadio
Deborah ProctorWCPERaleighNCRaleigh-Durham$96,776$1,751,1852012CommunityRadio
Dan BindertWDCBGlen EllynILChicago$77,065$1,658,7062014UniversityRadio
Michelle SrbinovichWDETDetroitMIDetroit$98,740$3,646,7692015UniversityRadio
Susan HowarthWEDU PBSTampaFLTampa-St Petersburg$190,365$7,026,1142012CommunityTV
Mary MotherwellWEMUYpsilantiMIDetroit$94,855$1,997,0002014UniversityRadio
DeAnne HamiltonWESAPittsburghPAPittsburgh$172,522$3,205,9592013CommunityRadio
Trina CutterWestern Reserve Public MediaKentOHCleveland$156,251$4,424,8122013UniversityTV
Sharon RockefellerWETAWashingtonDCWashington DC$468,536$71,399,2582013CommunityJoint
Roger SarowWFAECharlotteNCCharlotte$178,384$4,566,8162013UniversityRadio
Jonathan AbbottWGBHBostonMABoston$490,826$179,666,9012013CommunityJoint
William MarrazzoWHYYPhiladelphiaPAPhiladelphia$580,080$29,585,3602013CommunityJoint
Dan SkinnerWKSUKentOHCleveland$119,541$6,496,2602014UniversityRadio
John LaBoniaWLRNMiamiFLMiami-Ft Lauderdale$135,586$15,416,1522014SchoolJoint
Timothy FallonWLVTBethlehemPAPhiladelphia$155,937$5,779,6662013CommunityTV
LaFontaine OliverWMFEOrlandoFLOrlando$82,828$3,535,4722013CommunityRadio
Lackisha FreemanWNCUDurhamNCRaleigh-Durham$75,900$950,6422013UniversityRadio
Neal ShapiroWNETNew York CityNYNew York$541,104$127,094,8892013CommunityTV
Dolores SukhdeoWPBTMiamiFLMiami-Ft Lauderdale$189,611$12,299,1812013CommunityTV
Wally SmithWPPBSouthamptonNYNew York$36,000$1,029,2742013CommunityRadio
Deborah AcklinWQEDPittsburghPAPittsburgh$259,878$13,889,8442012CommunityJoint
Daniel SchmidtWTTWChicagoILChicago$385,252$46,069,7872013CommunityTV
Amy BurkettWTVICharlotteNCCharlotte$178,174$5,355,7622015UniversityTV
Polly AndersonWUCFOrlandoFLOrlando$154,801$4,866,3142014UniversityTV
Patty DomeniconiWUMBBostonMABoston$90,069$2,009,9212014UniversityRadio
Connie WalkerWUNC RadioChapel HillNCRaleigh-Durham$150,014$7,921,4562014UniversityRadio
Gail ZimmermanWUNC-TVChapel HillNCCharlotte$180,856$27,453,1132014UniversityTV
JoAnn UrofskyWUSFTampaFLTampa-St Petersburg$145,858$4,581,6632014UniversityJoint
Roger LaMayWXPNPhiladelphiaPAPhiladelphia$234,000$8,878,4262015UniversityRadio
Ron SchofieldWYCCChicagoILChicago$127,000$6,770,0422014UniversityRadio
Abby GoldsteinWYEPPittsburghPAPittsburgh$112,166$2,171,4962013CommunityRadio

National organizations

NameOrganizationCompensationExpensesSource Year
Jon McTaggartAmerican Public Media Group$595,528$19,647,4652013
Patricia de Stacy HarrisonCPB$434,364$461,876,0752013
Hugo MoralesExecutive Director$125,925$1,151,3432013
Arlene EngelhardtExecutive Director$108,253$7,337,3712012
Gary KnellNPR$756,575$224,456,6972013
Paula KergerPBS$779,954$468,299,6132012
Jake ShapiroPRX$271,161$3,630,1102013

17 thoughts on “The numbers: What top executives are making

  1. 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.

  2. 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
    $400K salary…

    • 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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.

  5. And looks like Brenda Barnes of Classical KUSC in Los angeles got a $112,000 raise to total salary of $338,548 [2015]. 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)

  6. 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.

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