Iowa Public Radio loses university funding

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Iowa Public Radio will take a budget hit of about 10% as its university licensee ends financial support.

The board of regents of Iowa’s three state universities decided Wednesday to eliminate funding, which amounted to $875,000 in fiscal year 2020.

Financial pressures from the pandemic prompted the cuts as the universities face nearly $200 million in lost revenue and added expenses by the end of the fiscal year in June, Josh Lehman, senior communications director for the board of regents, told Current in an email.

Lehman pointed out that IPR’s strategic plan from FY12–16 included a gradual decline in university support. The reductions were delayed, then resumed in FY20.

“The goal was for a transition to self-sufficiency,” Lehman said. “However, the pandemic has created massive disruptions and financial losses to our public universities. The universities are needing to reallocate resources to support other core functions, primarily providing a top-quality education for our students.”

“While just 10% of our budget, university funding has been critical support that has helped IPR serve citizens in every corner of our state, and its loss will present a financial challenge for us as we plan for FY 21,” IPR Executive Director Myrna Johnson said in a statement.

“Iowans deserve an excellent public radio system, and we hope the universities continue to work with us to ensure this service continues for decades to come,” Johnson added.

IPR spokesperson Gretchen Kasperbauer told Current that the state network is working on its FY21 budget and will be “freezing salaries, not filling open positions, and squeezing as much as we can out of every corner of our budget. We will work hard to protect jobs and services to our listeners to the best of our ability.”

“We don’t expect dollars to return in future years,” Kasperbauer said.

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