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Chicago Public Media CEO Seeks Donations & Public Support Due To Trump's New Public Radio-Killing Budget

Chicago Public Media (CPM) President and CEO Goli Sheikholeslami sent an email out to all past WBEZ-FM donors and to those on the radio station's mailing list Thursday morning. The email sought donations for WBEZ-FM. While emails asking listeners to donate to public radio stations are fairly commonplace, especially during their periodic pledge drives, this particular email had more of an urgency and a special message behind it.

Last week, President Trump released his controversial proposed budget for America. Under this budget, virtually every governmental agency, with the exception of three, would receive funding cutbacks ranging from mild to severe to total funding stoppages. Funding to public broadcasting and the arts would be cut out entirely, potentially destroying countless public radio stations, public television stations, and journalistic outlets, not to mention libraries, parks, museums, equal rights organizations, the environment, and much more.

Even though all Democrats and many Republicans in Congress oppose much of what this budget has proposed, there is still a good chance it could pass through by a narrow margin, or many parts of it could be passed in a revised version.

Because of that scary situation, CPM's Sheikholeslami (pictured) sent out a message to WBEZ-FM listeners seeking their help -- not just with donations, but in other ways they can help, including signing a petition and reaching out to their elected officials.

Here is the text of Sheikholeslami's memo:
Thank you for being a WBEZ member. You stand among the more than 83,000 people who enable us to be a robust and independent source for news and information in our community. The largest source of our funding is and has always been, direct support from individual listeners like you.

Last week the President's proposed budget blueprint called for ending all federal funding for public broadcasting through a Federal appropriation to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). WBEZ, like many public radio and television stations in large and small communities across the country, receives funding from CPB to assist with the expense of airing programs like Morning Edition and All Things Considered from NPR.

Consider these facts:
- 41 million people listen to public radio stations across the country each week, including almost 1 million here in Chicago.
- Federal funding for public radio is less than $0.30 per year per citizen.
- The cost to fund CPB is 0.01% of the entire federal budget.

In an era where newspapers and other news sources struggle to stay afloat, the American public has had the good fortune since 1967 of being able to rely on CPB funding to support the vital services that local stations like WBEZ provide, particularly in rural and under-resourced communities. While WBEZ remains on solid financial footing today, thanks in large part to the financial contributions of our members, other public radio and television stations across the country are not as fortunate. CPB acts as a critical lifeline in providing many stations with the funding they need to operate.

What happens next? Ultimately, Congress will decide on the budget, and we are hopeful public media has strong support from citizens and legislators on Capitol Hill. But, while we wait for the process to play out here's what you can do today to ensure a positive outcome:

- Contact your Senator or Congressperson and tell them you support CPB funding and rely on WBEZ.
- Make a financial contribution to WBEZ and urge others to do the same.
- Sign an online petition at protectmypublicmedia.org in support of public media.

Millions of Americans depend on their local public radio stations for the fact-based, unbiased, public service journalism they need to stay informed about the news in their communities and the world. In these politically charged times, we need your support to ensure public media's future is preserved for generations to come.

Goli Sheikholeslami
President & CEO
Chicago Public Media
A nearly identical message from Sheikholeslami was posted on the WBEZ.org website today. Public radio and television stations nationwide have been reaching out to their followers in the last week with similar pleas for help, and are expected to continue to do so before it is potentially too late for them.

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