For more than two decades, public-radio listeners have grown accustomed to the erudite questioning style of Fresh Air host Terry Gross.
What many people don’t realize is that the program is profitable, although its unclear how much of a windfall it makes for WHYY, the Philadelphia NPR affiliate that broadcasts the show.
“WHYY covered the production costs of Fresh Air for many years. (The program began in the mid-1970s and became a daily NPR show in 1987),” WHYY spokesman Brian Rossiter writes in an email. “In the past few years, as the program’s carriage and underwriting increased, WHYY has seen a return on investment. Due to contractual obligations, I can’t discuss exact figures on the program’s costs and revenues.”
Fresh Air, which airs on more than 500 stations, attracts more than 5 million listeners every week. The show isn’t the only public-radio hit that brings in more money than it costs. Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Car Talk are among the shows that return “a margin to our organization,” NPR says in a statement to DailyFinance. Another fan favorite, This American Life (TAL), also has earned small profit, says Daniel Ash, vice president for strategic communications at Chicago Public Media, which produces the show.
Into the Black
As a whole, NPR — as is common for a nonprofit — usually runs a deficit. According to audited financial statements, NPR’s revenue ran a $8.3 million deficit in the 2010 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. Revenues rose to $184.3 million from $148.7 million a year earlier, while expenses jumped to $192.5 last year from $166.6 million in 2009. But after cutting staff and scaling back benefits in 2008, NPR expects to make a “modest margin” this year, according to spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm.
- What’s Killing NPR (realclearpolitics.com)
- NPR’s Surprisingly Firm Financial Footing (huffingtonpost.com)
- Report: Non-Profit NPR To Make A ‘Modest Margin’ This Year (mediaite.com)