A committee charged last January by President David Hodge with exploring alternatives that address technological change and budgetary challenges for WMUB 88.5 FM, the university's NPR station, has issued a final report. The committee recommends the station explore collaborations with regional media.
Due to its location near, but not in, major markets and to its signal strength, the station faces challenges in underwriting and membership. With low funding in those areas, the station receives more university subsidy than most: Miami's subsidy in 2006 covered approximately 62 percent of WMUB's full $1.7 million budget. Of the more than 185 public radio stations licensed to U.S. universities, the average subsidy is approximately 37 percent.
The WMUB Review Committee reviewed the current situation, studied the areas of station mission and audience demographics and sought input from station staff, listeners, regional media representatives and public radio consultants to prepare a series of options and recommendations.
It strongly recommends pursuing developing regional connections with existing noncommercial radio stations and adding significant connections with appropriate Miami academic programs. Starting with developing a regional "public media" model featuring a news network, WMUB would leverage its news staff and strengthen its links to academic programs and the university's teaching mission by developing active partnerships with journalism, communication and interactive media studies. Working with its partners, WMUB could provide enhanced regional news and public/cultural affairs coverage, support a public media Internet site, and develop its new HD side channels.
The committee also recommends that serious consideration be given to creating a local management agreement (LMA). An LMA would entail identifying potential partners (most likely other noncommercial radio stations) and/or a nonprofit entity to run the station(s).
"With top national consultants, solid support from Dr. Hodge, staff input and feedback from listeners who showed avid support for WMUB, we learned a lot about public radio. We think our 'public media' recommendation is a dynamic plan and represents a strong model for the future of WMUB and public media. We think Miami has a real opportunity to help develop that model," said Richard Campbell, journalism director and chair of the committee.
The committee considered four options but recommends against two of them: remaining independent and selling the station license.
The full report is on the Provost's Reports Web page, www.muohio.edu/provost/reports.cfm.