As you may know, several months ago, Nevada Public Radio found itself in a dire situation. Due to years of fundraising shortfalls and fiscal irresponsibility, our financial condition was in such a bad state that closing our doors was a very real possibility. We were $2 million in the red, with unpaid debts — from power bills to programming fees — stretching back for years. In the face of this crisis, our Board of Directors immediately began taking steps to save the organization.
Thanks to the leadership of our Board and Interim CEO Jerry Nadal, Nevada Public Radio has survived — for now. Our fall pledge drive welcomed 1,500 new members, and together with a groundswell of support from sustaining members, corporate partners, and challenge sponsors, we achieved an impressive fall campaign total of $579,933. Thank you to everyone who helped Nevada Public Radio through one of its most challenging chapters. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not there yet.
I’m sure many of our readers and listeners are wondering how we got into this situation — and what we’re doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Going forward, this public media organization will embrace the same spirit of transparency that guides our mission and makes NPR such a trusted news brand. To that end, let me share with you more about our last few months.
The forensic investigation into our past accounting practices, and our efforts to establish a complete and accurate financial picture of the organization, is ongoing. I will share the results of those efforts at a later date, but at the very least, we will have complete, accurate, and reliable books and records once this process is completed. In the interim, we have taken and continue to take prudent yet aggressive steps to ensure that Nevada Public Radio can live within its means, while fulfilling its mission to inform, educate, and inspire its diverse audiences. As just some examples of the steps we’ve taken since August, we have:
• Shut down our music-discovery station based in Reno, NV89, and are exploring the sale of our Northern Nevada and Utah broadcast assets.
• Cut redundant, unnecessary, and wasteful expenditures on various vendors and service providers. In some cases, we’re negotiating down debts to some of these providers.
• Made cost-saving adjustments to a range of internal line items, from staff health insurance and retirement plans to freelance budgets.
• Prepared to file a court request to free up endowment funds to pay off some of our outstanding debts to National Public Radio, American Public Media, and other program providers.
• Reduced the publication frequency of Desert Companion magazine in 2020 from monthly to a bimonthly schedule, plus two special issues.
These are just a few of the changes we’re making to ensure that Nevada Public Radio has a thriving future as a vital source of news, information, culture, and civil dialogue.
As 2019 began, none of us at Nevada Public Radio could have possibly anticipated the challenges we were about to face, or how close our organization would come to a shutdown. Nevertheless, I am so proud and fortunate to have witnessed firsthand the incredible efforts of our Board, the entire staff of Nevada Public Radio, and most importantly, our community, all of whom came together at just the right time to avert disaster. It is that collective effort that makes me optimistic about our future as we head into our 40th anniversary in 2020. It will be a future of journalistic excellence, fiscal responsibility, and innovative methods of fundraising. What won’t ever change is the fact that we couldn’t do any of it without all of you.
Anthony J. Pearl
Nevada Public Radio Board of Directors