February 25, 2006

This Weekend’s Unanswered Question 1: When Did Working in Public Broadcasting Get so Lucrative?

I caught this at Kausfiles Thursday (HT Instapundit):

The New Road to Riches: Public radio! …Minnesota Public Radio is resisting a state law requiring that it disclose salaries over $100,000 if it wants to keep getting state subsidies:

    (excerpt from unlinked source)
    [State Rep. Marty] Seifert said MPR would rather skip the state money than list its salaries. MPR had received state money in the past, and Seifert said the $500,000 salary of MPR’s chief executive officer William Kling was one of the motivations for his legislation. [Emph. added]

The Mickster didn’t provide a link (tsk tsk), but here’s a different excerpt from an AP story on the topic:

Minnesota Public Radio in dispute over salary disclosure

MARSHALL, Minn. – Minnesota Public Radio, in the middle of one of its regular fund drives for listener contributions, has so far turned down a lot of money from the state of Minnesota.

State Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said MPR has refused $380,000 in state appropriations in the current fiscal biennium. He said Tuesday that MPR’s stance is in response to a new law requiring them to make a public list of the wages of all positions that pay more than $100,000.

….. MPR, like other nonprofits, must disclose many compensation details in federal tax return forms that are available to the public. The forms list names and salaries of the five highest-paid employees and of officers or trustees.

On the 2004 tax return, MPR listed the names and salaries of 13 officers or trustees, 12 of whom earned more than $100,000. Kling received $326,700 in salary, pension and benefits, and incentive compensation at MPR. He earns roughly an additional $218,000 from American Public Media Group, the parent company of MPR.

The top five highest-paid employees earned from $117,845 to $174,040, plus benefits and deferred compensation.

Something tells me the resistance is there because there are many more employees getting paid more than $100K.

It turns out that stratospheric salaries are not unusual in public radio.

A review of the latest available Form 990 tax return of National Public Radio, Inc. in Washington for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2004 indicates that all but one of its 16 officers were paid over $138,000; the one who didn’t got “only” $104,000 for 24 hours of work per week (tax returns for major not-for-profit entities are available to anyone at Guidestar.org after going through a registration process to get a user name and password).

The talent at NPR in Washington did even better that year. Of the five top-paid non-officers (required to be listed on the tax return as noted previously), four of them were paid between $229,000 and $250,000, and now-retired Morning Edition anchor Bob Edwards was paid $477,000. The return also discloses that an astonishing 578 of its 784 employees were paid over $50,000.

I also couldn’t help but notice that NPR in Washington spent exactly $1,000,000 in 2001, 2002, and 2003 on lobbying, presumably to keep the taxpayer money flowing to pay those bloated salaries.

The Form 990 for the WGBH family of broadcasting outlets in Boston identifies ten officers in its fiscal year ended August 31, 2004 who got paid between $106,000 and $250,000, shows a top five non-officer group that got paid between $182,000 and $210,000, and says that 572 of its 1,186 employees were paid over $50,000.

For all the money people in public broadcasting are getting paid, all out of donations from the government (i.e. taxpayers), corporations, and individuals, it’s quite amazing how few nice things public radio reporters have to say about the direction of the current government, how automatically dubious they are about the ethics of corporate officers in the for-profit sector, and how much contempt they seem to have for people who don’t share their elitist viewpoints.

Those pledge drive pleadings are starting to ring a bit hollow, don’t you think?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Wizbang Weekend Carnival participant.

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