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KFAI could run out of money next year

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Minneapolis community radio station KFAI could run out of money sometime next year if it doesn't find more funding and cut costs. The board will meet tonight to decide how to fill a more than $100,000 deficit.  

Board president Mary Bensman said they've already taken steps to cut back on staff and put more muscle behind fundraising. 

"Our finances have been in decline gradually over the last seven years -- we've made a few changes to address that, but it hasn't been enough change," Bensman said. "The board determined that this is the point at which we really had to draw our line in the sand and figure out how to get financially stable." 

KFAI is run by a small number of staff members and about 450 volunteers who do everything from host shows to gather news.

Like many radio stations, the member-funded KFAI has seen a drop in listenership as listeners moved online. But the 36-year-old station has also struggled with predictability. Bensman said the station carries about 87 different shows in 18 different languages. Monday's schedule includes shows focusing on Latino rock, South Asian music and a talk show focusing on "nutritional, mental, emotional, spiritual and political health." 

"It doesn't provide the listener with enough predictability in our schedule, so you never know what you're going to get," Bensman said. "For a radio station, a medium that people tend to turn on on a regular basis, they want to know what they're going to hear -- especially in the car."

The station's accountant has said KFAI will run out of money sometime in 2015 if the board doesn't close the deficit. 

"We really don't think it's going to get to that point," Bensman said. "We really do appreciate that we now have our listeners and our members attention about what's going on with us, and there can be no more complacency -- everybody has step up to the challenge." 

The non-commercial KFAI was started in 1978. Its studios were originally located in the belfry of Walker Community United Methodist Church in south Minneapolis and its antenna was on the roof of the Seward Community Co-op. The station is currently based in the Bailey Building in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis.