Iowa Public Radio Listeners Take Over Funding After State and University Slash Funds

Iowa Public Radio (IPR) is planning a newsroom expansion after raising more than $8 million. The public media network, which is now run independently after IPR took over the licenses of 17 signals from the University of Iowa in March of 2022, initially sought to raise $6.5 million which was surpassed, thanks to the generosity of more than 200 donors.

The network is nearly entirely funded by listener donations after its budget was slashed by state lawmakers and the Iowa Board of Regents discontinued funding the station in 2020.

The station’s first big fundraising effort begins to “lay the foundation for the next 100 years of innovation and excellence,” Executive Director Myrna Johnson said, according to the Iowa Press-Citizen. An additional $2 million will be invested in what Johnson called “journalism excellence,” which will include new partnerships for in-depth and investigative reporting and an expansion of its arts and culture coverage.

“We know that it’s super important to have a strong pipeline to bring more diversity to our team as well as to just ensure we have really strong, strong journalists in the pipeline to come work at IPR and other journalism organizations,” Johnson explained. IPR also plans to invest around $1 million in tech upgrades.

A $3.5 million endowment fund was created before the recent fundraising campaign to help eliminate funding shortages.

Johnson says the financial support shows “a strong commitment to ensuring there’s strong information so that we have strong communities and vibrant communities in our state… It’s just so exciting to see the community really rally around the need for support for journalism and for IPR in particular.”

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