Two Alaska public media organizations started sharing an executive director this month and are pondering further collaboration as state funds dwindle.
Anchorage-based nonprofit Alaska Public Broadcasting Inc. provides business services to public broadcasters in the state as well as staffing for the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission, the entity that allocates state funding for public media. APBI also manages the state-owned Alaska Rural Communication System, a TV service to 192 locations.
CoastAlaska is a collaboration of public broadcasters in Sitka, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell and Juneau. It provides financial management, fundraising, engineering, editorial leadership and regional news content.
APBI and CoastAlaska have entered into a joint venture. Three members from each organization will work with a shared executive director to align the two “in a time of shrinking state funds,” according to a press release.
The new executive director is Mollie Kabler, who formerly led CoastAlaska. Former APBI executive director Jamie Waste left the organization in October.
Funding for public radio in the state fell from more than $3.3 million in fiscal year 2015 to around $2 million for FY18, according to Kabler. Support for Alaska’s four public TV stations is also down, from $825,900 in FY13 to $633,300 for FY18.
CPB, which is supporting mergers and collaborations, “said they were interested in working with us if we could show financial savings,” Kabler said. “The problem is, even if we collaborate we’re so comparatively low on funding now that there’s little savings we can show. We’re combining mainly to try and find synergy and grow our capacity.”
No immediate changes to either organization are expected, the announcement said.