San Diego State University, its future clouded by a brewing fight for control of Mission Valley’s Qualcomm Stadium site, along with the imminent departure of president Elliot Hirshman for greener financial pastures at Maryland’s Stevenson University, is also worried about funding its public broadcasting empire in the era of president Donald Trump.
“We are a critical part of our community here in San Diego, and any cut in federal funding would damage that,” KPBS general manager Tom Karlo was quoted as saying in a March 18 Union-Tribune account, which added that Karlo had gone all the way to Washington to lobby Congress against the president’s proposal to zero out funding for the federal Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Of his attempt to hit up Republican House member Duncan Hunter, Karlo complained, “It was 1:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday and the door was locked.”
The paper said that in fiscal year 2016 KPBS got about $3.2 million in federal funds, with additional cash being had from “contributions by about 55,000 families, annually bringing in $8 million to $9 million, and corporate donors who supply about another $5 million a year.”
But the U-T failed to mention the KPBS tab picked up each year by California taxpayers in the form of the SDSU operation’s six-figure salary and benefit packages, including Karlo’s cool $309,883. That was way up from the $215,262 in total compensation that the KPBS honcho received back in 2011.
Other SDSU costs for the stations have been rising as well. “Direct financial support received from the University for the years ended June 30, 2016 and 2015 was approximately $2,211,000 and $2,170,000, respectively, and consisted primarily of salaries for management, space rental and utilities,” says the latest KPBS annual financial report, dated last November 22. An additional $5,823,856 was spent by SDSU for KPBS in so-called indirect funding, which the audit says “relates to a portion of the University’s general overhead costs that directly benefit the programs of the Stations. Such items are allocated based upon square footage percentage or prorated costs including administration, maintenance and repairs.”
Besides Karlo, other high-dollar public employees at KPBS, per 2015 State of California pay data posted online by nonprofit Transparent California, include station manager Deanna M Mackey, $199,553, and associate general manager Trina Hester, $182,290.