Oregon’s KLCC invests in newsgathering with proceeds from $3M campaign

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Bob Williams/KPCC

KLCC GM Jim Rondeau, at center with staff and campaign co-chairs, speaks during a June 4 event celebrating the $3 million fundraising milestone.

KLCC in Eugene, Ore., is expanding its local news coverage after surpassing its $3 million campaign goal.

The public radio station aims to become a primary news source across more platforms by producing video packages and a daily newsletter, GM Jim Rondeau and Director of Philanthropy Ronnel Curry said in interviews with Current.

KLCC’s newsroom will hire reporters to cover business and education beats as well as a local news fellow to report through a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion. Two hosts recently transitioned from part-time to full-time employment. 

The fundraising campaign, Amplifying Oregon Voices, began in 2019 after Rondeau joined the station and identified a need for local enterprise journalism.

“Our first order of business in … the campaign was to invest in the content, because we really recognize that the role of public media has changed,” Rondeau said.

Public stations were built as alternative news providers to daily newspapers, which traditionally provided most of the enterprise coverage in communities.

As newspapers declined and downsized, that balance “had to change quickly,” he said. “It had to change before people lost the habit of even consuming local news, which has happened in a lot of places.”

KLCC started a new public affairs program, Oregon on the Record, in February 2023 as a once-a-week show. It now airs at 2 p.m. local time Mondays through Thursdays. The show launched during the campaign to show donors where their money was going, Curry said.

“The goal was to build the plane we’re flying,” she said.

Rondeau said KLCC has been able to build its news team by establishing a “Swiss army knife operation” — maximizing the staff’s efficiency and learning new skills during the growth of digital content.

“If you’re the morning host, you may also be the final check on the newsletter that goes out that day and you’re also monitoring whether or not the news on the web is following the same editorial priorities that we are following on the air,” he explained.

The strategy has meant the station doesn’t have to build separate digital, publishing or marketing teams, Rondeau said.

“One of the things that we are very fortunate about is we’ve had a tremendously talented staff,” he said.

KLCC celebrated the $3 million milestone with a June 4 benefit event featuring a conversation with Ailsa Chang of NPR’s All Things Considered. Chang discussed her career move from lawyer to public radio journalist and co-host of NPR’s flagship afternoon newsmagazine.

“It’s just been fabulous,” Curry said of the campaign. “The community has supported KLCC for many, many years and they really stepped up to support our efforts.”

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