Illinois public radio is set to lose hundreds of thousands in annual funding from the University of Illinois-Springfield in the coming years.
According to UIS’ planned annual budget, it will cut $400,000 from NPR Illinois’ budget, phasing it out each fiscal year until funding is completely eliminated. The cut deals a major blow to local journalism and WUIS (91.9 FM), which has been a public news source for Illinois since 1975.
In a press release Friday, State Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, called for UIS to revert funding back to NPR Illinois, recognizing its importance as "one of the few remaining media venues that extensively covers state government," per the release.
“I recognize the COVID-19 pandemic has had an economic impact on many universities," Turner said, "but cutting this program from UIS’s budget would do a huge disservice to both area residents and journalism students.”
According to the release, Turner wrote a letter to UIS chancellor Karen Whitney urging her to revert funding back to NPR Illinois, which is currently housed on the university’s grounds. Current plans will allow the station to continue operations at UIS but it will primarily have to rely on private donations to continue to function.
“Over many years, this station has delivered true, fair and unbiased coverage to a multitude of listeners,” Turner said. “It has also given many journalists and interns an opportunity to thrive in the field while reporting on state government. This outlet produces quality journalism, and it needs to continue to operate.”
WUIS began broadcasting as WSSR when UIS was still Sangamon State University in 1975. According to the station’s latest budget report, NPR Illinois received $734,142 in donations from listeners and businesses in 2020. It reported an operating expense of $1.9 million that same year.
This story will be updated.
via The State Journal-Register
July 9, 2021 at 03:20PM