Non-Profit Radio's Salaries Raise Some Eyebrows
November 14th, 2005 @ 5:13pm
John Hollenhorst Reporting
A public-radio executive says he's been unfairly criticized for his high salary and a profitable business deal. But others in the non-profit realm say they're shocked, or at the very least, have had their eyebrows raised.
The Salt Lake Tribune published the numbers--pretty big numbers for salaries and profitable ventures in non-profit public radio. But Blair Feulner says he's worth it because he's returned millions of dollars in value to listeners.
They're on the air in Park City as KPCW, at Library Square in Salt Lake as KCPW. Mostly news, and public affairs, highly informative, supported by listener dollars and business underwriters. Blair Feulner is the man who started it all many years ago.
Blair Feulner, KCPW/KPCW General Manager: "We are the best in the country at what we do. And we have the paperwork to prove it."
Feulner doesn't dispute the Salt Lake Tribune's report on his salary: 150,000-plus per year. Before his wife retired, together they made 280,000 two years ago. She worked there before they got married.
Blair Feulner: "She ran the business side and I ran the programming side. And I believe in equal pay for equal work."
But Salt Lake's other community station managers get a third to a half as much. James Roberts, a board member of KRCL, refused to criticize Feulner, but he's surprised.
James Roberts, KRCL Board: "I've not seen numbers that high at most non-profits, let alone non-profits in Utah."
KCPW board member David Simmons says Feulner's salary was set high for good reasons.
David Simmons, KPCW/KCPW Board Member: "Was both competitive, because we didn't want to lose the guy, and at the same time very fair. And I think we all felt very good about the decision and still feel very good about that decision."
Mayor Rocky Anderson says Feulner and his wife put their life into public radio in the early years for almost nothing.
Rocky Anderson, Mayor of Salt Lake City: "People who do a good job deserve to make good money."
Listeners and contributors will have the final say.
James Roberts, KRCL Board: "You know, ultimately they get to vote with their feet, either stay or not stay, based on whether they think that's fair or not fair."
The biggest eyebrow-raiser is a side deal that netted Feulner and his wife nearly 900,000 dollars. They arranged the purchase of a radio license in Coalvile, which the board later sold at an enormous profit. Because of a prior agreement with the board, the Feulner's got one-fourth of the profit.
SLC Library Boy: This is the radio station I volunteer for. I don't really have an opinion about the salary...all I know is that it is a great radio station.