by Tim Owens, Vice-President & General Manager, KDB Radio
It saddens me to let you know that the Santa Barbara Foundation has voted to relinquish its ownership of KDB and to find a new home for the radio station. As Ron Gallo, the President and CEO of the Foundation, explained to the KDB Board recently, “While the station has been a wonderful addition to the Santa Barbara cultural scene for over eighty years, the rising costs of operation coupled with exploding competition from alternative technologies that provide music and information, led the board of the foundation to conclude that there are more efficient and strategic ways for it to support the arts throughout Santa Barbara County.” Ron also pointed out among the reasons leading to this decision was a re-focusing of the Foundation’s priorities, the need to cut operating expenses and the financial exposure that the station presented to the Foundation. In 2012, for instance, KDB didn’t raise enough revenue for operations and ran a deficit of nearly $100,000. Understandably, the Foundation argued that the money being spent to cover that deficit was taking away from other grants.
For 2013, we streamlined our expenses to the point of not affecting our service and were beginning a path to financial self-sufficiency – anticipating that we would finish the year in the black.” But, we were also doing so because the Foundation provided KDB a subsidy of $100,000. (Incidently, the Foundation has been KDB’s biggest donor the past four years.) That subsidy was going away in 2014.
Unfortunately, despite the on-air pleas we made during our fundraising drives and in the letters we sent out about financial support being urgent, fewer than a thousand listeners of KDB’s 20,000 weekly listeners became donors over the past four years. While our advertising sales have been on a gradual increase the past couple of years, taken together the combined donor and ad revenue still wasn’t enough to make KDB financially self-sufficient.
Going forward, as Mr. Gallo states, “The Santa Barbara Foundation is actively seeking the best new ownership for the station and hopes, but can not guarantee, that the new ownership will maintain a classical music format.” The Foundation’s first preference is to find a local buyer who will maintain the integrity of the classical format and information on the arts. They are also looking for buyers outside of our region with the same intentions. And, a broad spectrum of owner/operator options are being entertained. They also hope to complete a deal by the end of this year.
It is worth noting that any proceeds from the sale of the station as Mr. Gallo puts it, “Will be used to support, in perpetuity, the Santa Barbara arts and cultural community, with a distinct emphasis on classical music.”
In the meantime, KDB is still open for business. While we have temporarily suspended our fundraising efforts from listeners and other donors until we know the outcome of the sale, we are still encouraging businesses, non-profits and others to continue advertising with us. The service you have come to expect from KDB will continue into the near future – and we are hopeful, into a much longer and lasting future.
Thank you for this opportunity to let you know about the status of KDB.
Vice President & General Manager
On October 15th, I attended a meeting with the heads of every major arts organization in town, as well as Ron Gallo of the Santa Barbara Foundation, Tim Owens, and Roby and Bob Scott from KDB, where we were told of KDB’s future. We were quite saddened to hear the news, as KDB has been an oasis for classical music in Santa Barbara. Not only has it played the greatest music that has lasted centuries, it has also been a tremendous support to every classical music organization in town. Every Sunday, KDB plays our live performances and even does the occasional live international broadcast, putting Santa Barbara’s musicians on the world-wide map. This is in addition to all the support we receive via advertising and their Cultural Calendar listings, as well as the interviews of local and visiting artists, and the Music Affiliates Hour. If KDB, after being sold, changes format, it would be devastating to our musical community. If any one has any possible solutions, please contact Tim Owens at the email listed above. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone at KDB for all the have done for classical music in Santa Barbara.
Sally Barr, Editor, M!SoSB