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Snails Don’t Help HPR Fundraiser

Missed goal means extension to try and make up the difference

Protected tree snails kept Hawaii Public Radio’s signal from reaching Oahu’s North Shore and the island of Kaua’i during HPR’s fall fundraiser. Now, HPR has missed its goal and plans to extend the fund drive.

The fall fundraiser is key to public stations. Many don’t have two a year and if they do, the fall fundraiser usually raises the most money.

Radio World reported that after a storm knocked HPR’s transmitter on Mount Ka’ala off the air, its generator ran out of fuel. HPR engineers couldn’t get up the mountain quickly for repair because of mating tree snails, which are a protected species.

HPR President/GM Michael Titterton isn’t blaming the snails entirely, saying on the HPR website “We’ve had an unbroken record of success for the last 15 years, so it was inevitable that, at some point, we would be in this position.” Other public radio stations too, are facing harder fund drives, he notes, saying there seems to be listener fatigue from bad news “from weather to wars.”

The cost of programming, from NPR, American Public Media, Public Radio International and other programming sources has also been increasing, due to the fact that the price is determined by listenership figures, according to Titterton. “NPR programming alone (including “Morning Edition” and “Fresh Air”) costs over half a million dollars a year. The station’s annual budget is almost $4.5 million, with 93% of the income derived from individual listeners and business underwriters.”

HPR does not receive government funding, and is not affiliated with PBS Hawaii.

HPR is some $200,000 away from its $1.03 million goal and plans to reopen the phones lines Oct. 15.