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Editorial: KANW studios a good investment; but not free

It’s good news that Albuquerque Public Schools’ KANW-FM radio station has finally moved into its renovated studios at Central New Mexico Community College’s main campus.

As the state’s oldest FM station and longtime National Public Radio affiliate, it has filled an important niche in New Mexico broadcasting since it first signed on in 1951, and does a remarkable job of highlighting New Mexican musicians.

But while celebrating the $712,500 renovation on Wednesday, Michael Brasher, the station’s longtime general manager, said something that should give every taxpayer pause: “We serve New Mexico. Rich and poor, rural and urban, the diverse population of the state of New Mexico, and we do it for free.”

For free? Perhaps the former Bernalillo County commissioner and current member of the state Board of Finance has been in charge of taxpayers’ money so long that he’s forgotten that nothing – including APS, CNM and KANW – is “free,” even if listeners don’t have to ante up direclty.

Granted, KANM has a dedicated cadre of volunteers who help keep the station on the air, and it relies on the generosity of donors and underwriters for much of its budget.

But KANW is also funded by federal grants, which is taxpayer money, and APS pays its utility bills, which also comes from taxpayers. While we celebrate the renovations with KANM and its listeners, it’s important that public servants keep in mind that their definition of “free” isn’t shared by everyone.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.