Recession Has Station Head Sweeping Studio Floors

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Ed Sweeney is the president of radio station KCPW in Salt Lake City, and he's even harder at work these days. Ripples from the economic crisis made Sweeney lay off two of his 12 employees and look for new ways to cut costs.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Times are tough all over: layoffs, furloughs, people doubling up on duties and finding new sources of revenue.

(Soundbite of ad)

Unidentified Woman: Spring cleaning? Clear your clutter and help KCPW by donating your lightly used goods for our first annual rummage sale. All proceeds from the sale…

SIMON: The president of KCPW in Salt Lake City is Ed Sweeney, who's now cleaning the station studios to save about $400 a month. KCPW, by the way, is a public radio station licensed to a group called Wasatch Public Media.

Ed Sweeney joins us from what I'm sure is his spanking clean studios in Salt Lake City. Ed, thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. ED SWEENEY (President, KCPW): My pleasure. I cleaned them this morning so…

SIMON: Want to give us any cleaning tips, Ed?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SWEENEY: Well, you know, I wish people wouldn't use Post-Its. They screw the whole thing up. They stick to the garbage cans.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SWEENEY: And you know people's eating habits.

SIMON: Now, you had to, as I understand it, recently lay off two employees, which doesn't sound like a lot in and of itself, but you had just 12 at that station.

Mr. SWEENEY: That's correct. It was a difficult decision because we have a small staff, and when you're that small to lose one or lose two is very difficult. It's tough to lay off people. I mean you guys have had to do it. Others have had to do it. It's not easy.

SIMON: How are the ratings? How are your audience numbers?

Mr. SWEENEY: The ratings are great. That's the irony, is that our ratings are almost up a hundred percent from spring of '08 when we were buying the station. And they're up about 50 percent from winter '08. You have more people listening but it's more difficult to raise dollars. So it's a almost a Catch-22.

SIMON: Yeah. So after the rummage sale, I'm trying to think of what other -have you thought about other revenue…

Mr. SWEENEY: Well, what we've done is, we're located at Library Square in Salt Lake. It's a beautiful space. We face out, our studios, to the space and we're opening a small public radio store, KCPW Store, where we'll sell, you know, memorabilia. And right next to it we're also creating what's called a Membership Lounge. And we'll make it nice and comfy, and it looks out onto the plaza. It's sort of like the Crown Room at the Delta Airlines.

We don't alcohol, but you got to meet the people. You can't just rely on them listening to you on the radio. So we're creating opportunities for our listeners and supporters to come visit us.

SIMON: When's the lounge open?

Mr. SWEENEY: It will start in June.

SIMON: When that lounge opens in June, would you call us up some Saturday morning so we can talk to the people there and tell them how much we appreciate them?

Mr. SWEENEY: I would be delighted. Right after I clean the office.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SWEENEY: I will give you a call. And now I have to clean the lounge.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SWEENEY: It never ends. But…

SIMON: You are the total broadcaster, Ed Sweeney.

Mr. SWEENEY: Well, I don't know. I'll do what I have to do in order to survive.

SIMON: Well, Ed, thank you so much. Good luck to you.

Mr. SWEENEY: Thank you, sir.

SIMON: Ed Sweeney, president and CEO of Wasatch Public Media. They are the nonprofit owners of station KCPW in Salt Lake City.

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