'We have a very bright future': Nevada Public Radio CEO answers your questions
Mark Vogelzang has spent much of his career building and transforming public radio stations. Mostly in the northeastern part of the country.
He’s worked with some of the most respected people in the industry, including a young Terry Gross, host of “Fresh Air,” at WHYY Philadelphia.
Now, Vogelzang is president and CEO of Nevada Public Radio, and he joins us on Monday to discuss his vision for the station.
On why it’s important to support your local station
It's a very good question. And you're right. From large stations to small stations, anyone can produce national programming and distribute it. Now the question is that instead of 300 radio stations, 300 NPR stations across the country, whether it's Las Vegas, or New York City or L.A. or San Francisco, or Reno and Boise. We all are local community institutions. And I think that's the answer for you in that, even though all of us have lots of choices, to be able to listen to and cultivate and create our own type of listening experience, the same thing goes true for television. But in this case, I would say the local institution of news gathering programs like this simply aren't available elsewhere. And if you're curious and interested in your community, in your state, in your region, the support for and listening to NPR and our member stations across the country where you are locally, is really important.
On broadcasting across the state
I can't immediately recount all of them but probably 15 or so signals, FM signals, traditional over the air signals, in small and large regions all across the state –two signals here in Las Vegas, which includes our classical station. That's a separate station, and also our KCNV, and then also our news station 88.9. From Moapa to Tonopah, all the way up to Ely and Carson City. We've got translators and repeaters and signals that we feed by satellite all across the state.
We do not have absolute signals in places like Winnemucca and the Utah border, etc. We used to have a station in St. George, we hope to come back to St. George with our FM signal for Southern Utah, as well. So that is the vision: to have more people listen across the state and the good thing is, I would say, everybody can stream, even in rural areas, you can stream Nevada Public Radio, and we make that available, free and available to everybody.
On KNPR’s 2018 financial crisis
Nevada Public Radio has been around for 40-plus years. I think we're in our 42nd year, Joe. And that's it. That's a really long tradition and track record. And it was a bit of a shock in 2018. I would say that the financial crisis really had a significant impact on us because we're a trusted public broadcasting community organization. Sometimes– there's a great phrase called “getting out over your skis.” And we got extended over our skis and over our financial ability with our expansion into Reno. Because of that, we had to be restructured. The board got involved, very significantly. Jerry Nadal, who was a board chair at the time, took over as interim CEO and helped us through COVID in a wonderful way. And hats off to Jerry and the board of directors who leaned in, rolled their sleeves up and did their work.
The good news is we've rebounded, we have a very bright future, we're seeing increases in audiences again. But we still have some headwinds, I would say from that financial crisis of 2018. It was pure and simple … we were not managed well, financially. And the board had to get involved, which is a unique problem. And everyone in the country knew about KNPR’s problems.
On perceived biases
That is a challenge for everyone, obviously, because one of the ways to combat that is to actually talk to people in person, and Joe and the team here at State of Nevada, do that every single day, talk to our elected officials, it's a very important thing to do. And, at the same time, the polarization of American media has often been a part of that as well, where we're painted with a broad brush. You're liberal, or you're conservative, or you're fake, or you're real. Somebody will say, “Well, I have my sources, and you have your sources, and we're just going to disagree.” That's not a good thing. So collectively, we need to do a better job of being generous and open to criticism. And I agree with you, we at NPR and NPR news and KNPR, we can do a better job of being open and understand our biases. But at the same time, we also need to be firm about the ideals of journalism and the journalism that expects truth, to be real, and not individual, subjective choices.
On KNPR’s 2022 fall pledge drive
It was a little bit of coincidence, but I did want to be on the air before the radio pledge. We're an important nonprofit and support matters. And I think a lot of people have been on the sidelines during COVID, because their lives have changed, people have moved jobs, new people are in town. But we reach hundreds of 1,000s of people every week on Nevada Public Radio across the state. It is an important cultural institution with our classical music station. But it's also an important journalistic organization with State of Nevada and Desert Companion. So support really does matter. And I like to say to people who have been donors in the past, don't be a stranger, stay in touch, make a gift. Talk to us, tell us what you're interested in.
Have more questions for Nevada Public Radio CEO Mark Vogelzang? Reach him at email@example.com.
Mark Vogelzang, president and CEO, Nevada Public Radio