KUAC Drops Program Director
Sam Allen / UAF Sun Star
In an effort to overcome $170,000 in budget cuts, UAF’s public radio station KUAC eliminated the program director position held by Jerry Evans on August 23rd.
“It’s weird because—it was unexpected, but it’s not a surprise,” said Evans who held the position for the last six years and helped make KUAC number one in the radio market for the first time in 50 years.
Before the staffing changes were made KUAC was posed to terminate its membership with Alaska Public Media (APRN), which produces “Alaska News Nightly” and “Talk of Alaska,” in order to save money.
“Ironically, I was the one who argued against losing those programs. I let them know before that step was made, before we lost our statewide news for 20,000 people that we needed to start looking at personnel,” said Evans.
In addition to the budget cuts, KUAC has also been tasked with fund-raising 100,000 dollars for the 2015 fiscal year.
General Manager Keith Martin could not be reached by phone and declined to directly answer questions via email.
KUAC received a $20,000 grant from the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) earlier this month to alleviate budget cuts.
Assembly member John Davies commented on the staff changes at KUAC that the grant would have moved in the direction of keeping Evans by relieving the budget.
KUAC has aired FNSB assembly meetings for nearly 40 years. According to assembly member John Davies, KUAC was looking at eliminating that coverage as apart of budget cuts.
The borough assembly approved $20,000, the estimated amount to continue airing assembly meetings, in a 6-1 vote.
“I think it’s really important to know what the assembly is up to. It’s democracy 101,” said Davies.
Davies said many people listen to the meetings while their driving in their car, working in the garden or sitting by the fire at night.
Assembly member Guy Sattely looked at it through an economic-development point of view. When people are looking for a place to move or start a business they’re looking for an area with good arts and culture and a quality public radio is essential.
Assembly member Lance Roberts cast the lone dissenting vote. He said it’s going to hurt KUAC in the long run.
“Tax payers are not paying the borough to cover for the state or city,” said Roberts.
Roberts says people donating won’t donate anymore because through this grant their tax dollars are already going to KUAC; the radio station won’t have to compete if they get money from the borough and as a result it won’t drive the quality of the programming.
Roberts said it would have been better if the assembly organized a group focused on getting people to donate.
On social media there has been a measurable backlash after Evans was let go, with many people saying they won’t donate or will stop donating to KUAC.
Evans remains positive saying that when one door closes another opens. He is now pursuing other interest he hasn’t had time for. He is working on a screenplay and is brining up three stand-up comedians to the UAF Pub this year through his company Alaskacomedy.com.