San Francisco's public schools will loan public radio's KALW up to $200,000 to keep the struggling station financially afloat even as the district faces its own financial woes and major cutbacks.
The school board voted unanimously this week to provide an unprecedented line of credit to the 70-year-old station, which operates independently, but is technically owned by the district.
The station has been losing money for three years and now sits about $120,000 in the hole, said KALW general manager Matt Martin. Its annual budget is about $1.4 million, most of which is donated by listeners.
"We have not taken cash (from the district) for nearly 20 years," he said. "That's not what we want here. We want a loan we can pay back with interest."
The district gave the station 18 months to repay the loan's principal and about 1.5 percent in interest.
The FM station first broadcast at the 1939 World's Fair on Treasure Island and was donated to San Francisco Unified in 1941 to train students in the then-emerging field of radio broadcasting.
But in 1992, the station cut financial ties with city schools and set out to survive on donations and grants alone. The district has continued to provide some accounting and other administrative services and a free place to broadcast at Burton High School. In total, the aid is worth about $236,000 annually, according to station financial statements.
Hat tip to NewsAlert.