WPSU faces cuts with 20% less in Penn State funds

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WPSU's studios in State College, Pa.

Cuts to programs and staff are on the table as WPSU in central Pennsylvania faces a 20% reduction in funding from Penn State University, its licensee. 

“We are collecting data on what is most valued by our community,” said GM Isabel Reinert. “Then, we will prioritize what we are able to do or not do with our reduced funding.” 

It’s too soon to know whether there will be layoffs at WPSU, but it is clear that there is no way to deal with the smaller budget without addressing staffing, Reinert said. That could happen through retirements or attrition, however. 

WPSU, which provides radio and television service as part of Penn State Outreach, is expected to get more than $3.8 million from the university in the fiscal year that starts in July. But the following year, that figure will fall to about $3.04 million, a reduction of more than $760,900, according to budget allocations published on the university’s website. 

That would result in a 9% decrease in WPSU’s overall budget. University funding generally makes up somewhere between 30% to 40% of the station’s budget in any given year, Reinert said. 

Reinert said the university has less money for nonacademic areas as it faces budget challenges and emphasizes student success. 

A Spotlight PA story in January said Penn State was planning to cut $94 million for the year starting in July 2025. 

In a WPSU story from January, VP for Penn State Outreach Larry Terry connected the cuts to the station’s funding to focusing on student success.

“They’re trying to invest where they believe they’re going to get the most value for that investment in students,” Terry said. 

Reinert said WPSU contributes to student success in numerous ways. That includes internships as well as video support for student activities such as TEDx talks and a fundraiser for childhood cancer. 

Penn State began radio broadcasting in 1953 thanks to a gift from a prior class that was meant to give students broadcasting experience, according to WPSU’s website. The university later received a permit in 1964 to build a TV transmitter. 

WPSU is looking to do a better job of self-promotion, Reinert said, which could help with fundraising in the face of any additional cuts. 

“We’ve been told there will be future reductions,” she said. “We do not know how much or when.”

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