State funding dip prompts job cuts at Prairie Public Broadcasting

Print More

A dropoff in funding from North Dakota has affected 13 positions as well as programming at Prairie Public Broadcasting.

The dual licensee in Fargo lost $400,000 of its previous state outlay of about $850,000 in the biennial budget for fiscal years 2017–19 that was approved in April, said John Harris, station president.

The station’s total annual budget is just over $8 million, according to its 2016 annual financial report.

In response, Prairie Public cut 13 full- and part-time jobs through attrition, reduction in hours and layoffs, Harris said. Nearly all departments were affected. Adjustments have been ongoing at the station since the biennial state budget was approved April 27, he said.

Of the $400,000 reduction, $150,000 was a drop in educational services support from the Department of Public Instruction. “We lost two educational services jobs but still have four people in that department,” Harris said. “We just won’t be able to do as much as we’d like.”

Other losses include a television producer and a videographer, which means less local content, Harris said. “That’s just the new reality,” he said.

Radio Director Bill Thomas said the station is cutting its weekday local classical show from three to two hours, and its host is going from full- to part-time. Staffers’ hours were also cut on the weekday call-in show Main Street.

North Dakota has seen a shrinking budget in recent years due mainly to declining prices in commodities including oil, grain and beef, according to Harris.

However, Harris is “fairly confident that we can make inroads into getting the money restored” once the commodity prices rebound. “I think things will turn around,” he said.