The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
Efforts to keep KCSM on television fell $100,000 short of the $1 million effort, but that didn’t stop the San Mateo County Community College District Board from approving the station for another year.
General Manager Marilyn Lawrence secured $900,000 of her $1 million goal to keep the television station running. The effort was enough for elected officials to give the program the go-ahead for next year during a board meeting Wednesday night. Lawrence will continue her effort toward finding funds to fill that gap over the next school year.
“It feels really good to have the support of the board,” she said.
The challenge for elected officials was the budget strain. More than $6 million in cuts were approved for next year. And the district is already faced with more people wanting fewer spaces. Trustee Richard Holober noted the district had 14,000 people on wait lists at some point this year.
“It’s a different world right now. We have to offer academics and job training,” he said, forcing other programs to be self sufficient.
“We love the station. We believe it’s an important community asset. But now it needs to be self sustaining,” he said, adding that Lawrence and her team have worked hard to make that deadline in a short time.
The college district began preparing for massive cuts this year, which included the direction that all ancillary services need to be self-funded, per the district’s direction. KCSM-TV is one of the programs which falls into this category.
Lawrence began raising funds with an initial deadline of presenting the $1 million plan of late February. Efforts were not quite there at the time, and Lawrence was granted one more month to continue her efforts. On Wednesday, she presented a plan just shy of the goal.
Reaching $900,000 was focused on three main options: Offering the public use of the station’s facilities or air access for a price, losing a few people and controlling costs.
KCSM broadcasts a variety of programs including television courses, the numbers for which have dropped in recent years in favor of online classes. Broadcasting, as a program, was on hiatus for a couple of years but returned over a year ago with all new digital gear, said Lawrence.
There are about 30 students enrolled in the advanced course currently working on a 13-part series looking at issues like water, local government and open space. The series debuted last week and will be seen again Saturday afternoon.
In the coming year, Lawrence plans to survey the community online to better understand the desires of the audience and create programming to match the viewers’ interests.