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7 losing their jobs at WGTE

With local contributions down nearly $100,000 from a year ago, public broadcasting's WGTE is laying off seven employees, general manager Marlon Kiser said yesterday.

Two of the layoffs are permanent and five are temporary, he said. The permanent layoffs entail clerical and courier positions, while the temporary layoffs are in the Education Resource Center. Kiser said two workers will return in mid-July and three will return in late August, coinciding with the start of a new school year.

WGTE - station call letters for both television (Channel 30) and radio (91.3 FM) - has an operating budget of $4.4 million. It relies more on contributions from individual members than it does from the national Corporation for Public Broadcasting and local businesses combined.

WGTE has approximately 19,000 members locally. For the fiscal year, which ends June 30, membership contributions are projected to be $1.58 million. That's a 7.6 percent decrease from the $1,676,000 raised during the 2001-02 fiscal year.

This is the second time in the past year that WGTE has laid off employees. In July, three people were affected. WGTE had 56 employees before this week's layoffs.

WGTE moved into a new $5 million, 40,000-square-foot building in May, 2002. Kaiser said $3.4 million is still owed on the building.

“The building is not part of the issue [of lay-offs]. Our capital campaign was a success,” Kiser said. “Even if we didn't have the expense of interest on the building, we'd still be challenged financially.”

During the past 10 years, WGTE's membership has declined by about 9,000. Its membership has dropped 2,000 since 2001.

Kiser said it's been “a very tough year” for all nonprofit organizations. He blamed it on “donor fatigue, post-9/11, combined with the economy.” PBS stations all over the country are experiencing similar pinches, he said.

WGTE's next pledge drives are Aug. 9-18 (for TV) and Oct. 17-26 (radio).

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