Volunteer History

KRMA/Rocky Mountain PBS Has Had Three Major Capital Campaigns

By Anne Marshall Christner for the Station's Archived Memories (SAM) Project

In order to raise unusually large funding for special projects, KRMA/Rocky Mountain PBS has held three capital campaigns during its history:

  • First, to purchase a transmitter and studio in 1954 when the station was just getting started; 
  • Then, to buy or build and equip a building when the Council for Educational Television learned in 1985 that Channel Six would have to vacate the 1261 Glenarm location by 1992; and 
  • Finally, to pay for equipment necessary for the federally-mandated conversion to digital TV transmission.

1954 Campaign
The initial campaign in 1954 sought $250,000 in order to be on the air by January 1955, and apparently was short-lived. Capital needs were assured through a bond issued by the Denver Public Schools Board of Education and the Adult Education Fund of the Ford Foundation. This enabled the station to begin broadcasting on January 30, 1956.

1985-1992 Capital Campaign
The need for the second capital campaign was first cited in the April 10, 1985 meeting minutes for the KRMA governing council. Initially, members discussed the feasibility of conducting a capital campaign for what was likely to be a sizable sum. They also questioned the ability of Denver Public Schools to continue funding the station. (Denver Public Schools eventually transferred the license for the station to the Council for Public Television, Channel 6, Inc. on May 1, 1987.)

The topic of a capital campaign was next cited in Board minutes in July 1988 when the Development Committee recommended they find professional assistance in running such a campaign. Then in December 1988, the Board of Directors hired Development Management Associates of Los Angeles, CA to do a feasibility study. By April 1989, Development Management Associates had submitted a proposal for helping manage a capital campaign. Their proposal was accepted in May, and a Board committee was formed to work with the consultants; the committee was composed of Paul Barre, Lane Earnest, Trudy Fowler, Don Johnson, Ann Love, Carle Stenmark, Larry Wickbaugh, and consultant Mona Hobson.

The initial goal for the capital campaign was $14 million, which was later expanded. The general strategy was to begin by working to procure large gifts – i.e., $1 million or more – and move to smaller gifts later on. And, Development Management Associates argued that the most important message to be conveyed is that KRMA was no longer part of Denver Public Schools, so there was a much greater need for the community to be involved and invested in the future of the station. Moreover, they said that the campaign should seek funds statewide.

A list of developments during the campaign follows:

  • The Council formed three subcommittees in August 1989 – i.e., one to develop the case for a capital campaign, one to work on publicity and public relations, and one to generate a list of potential donors. (Ann Love served as chair of the first subcommittee, and was succeeded in February 1990 by Barbara Grogan.)
  • In November 1989, Walter Imhoff accepted the position as chair of the Select Planning Committee of the Capital Campaign. 
  • By February 1990, Bob Schenkein was appointed chair of the Public Relations and Marketing subcommittee, and Harry Lewis was named chair of a new subcommittee on Research and Evaluation. 
  • Development Management Associates began a continuing onsite presence as of August 1990 in order to: 1) manage prospect research, identification, and evaluation; 2) train staff and volunteers; 3) supervise printed material; and 4) administer expenditures. 
  • In December 1990, Fred Deering assumed the chairmanship of the Capital Campaign Committee. Members of the committee were listed in April 1991 as Fred Deering, Jim Baldwin, Thomas Gibson, Peter Grant, Walter Imhoff, Don Johnson, Richard Kirk, Harry Lewis, Ann Love, Will Nicholson, Jr., and Carle Stenmark.
  • By April 1991, the Adolf Coors Foundation had pledged $1 million. Donald O'Connor and Sue Rodgers Anschutz were asked to be on the Pacesetter Gift Committee.
  • By July 1991, the campaign had additional pledges totaling $264,275 from the Boettcher, Anschutz, Gates, and Schramm Foundations. 
  • The Council learned in August 1991 that the station had won a competitive grant worth almost $848,000 for the new transmitter and antenna. The funder was the Public Telecommunication Facilities Program (U.S. Department of Commerce), whose intent was to fund facilities for various nonprofit organizations that planned to bring educational and cultural programs to the American public. 
  • By November 1991, gifts to the capital campaign totaled $3,338,230.
  • In December 1991, the Gates Family Foundation pledged $250,000 for immediate release, and another $250,000 over the next five years – $50,000 per year – if the campaign raised $950,000.
  • In a July 28, 1992 press release, Donald Johnson, station president and general manager, publicly announced the capital campaign and said that they had already raised almost half of the $14.8 million goal from "key foundations, corporations, and individuals." This announcement took place at a special reception for more than 200 community leaders. 
  • The 1985-1992 Capital Campaign eventually raised $15.5 million. This sum, along with a reduced price for the Channel 9 KUSA studio at 1089 Bannock Street, enabled the station to move to its own facility and add new and improved equipment.

2000-2005 Capital Campaign
The third capital campaign was first mentioned in station documents in October 2000. The article announced that Trudy Fowler, long-time volunteer and former staff member at KRMA, would chair a Rocky Mountain PBS capital campaign to raise the necessary funds for converting to digital television (DTV). The goal was for $14.9 million, with the governing board contributing $7 million from its reserves accumulated over the years.

In October 2000, the Gates Family Foundation issued a $500,000 challenge grant (a 1-to-1 match) so Rocky Mountain PBS could purchase the equipment necessary to reach all viewers in the state – not just those living in the urban areas.

The Governing Board Minutes from a meeting in January 2002 included a report from Trudy Fowler. At that point in time, the amount raised for this campaign totaled $10,802,035. She asked for help in making contact with corporations with whom she had no entrée.

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded a $1 million grant in August 2002 to help pay for a new transmission tower. (The money would not be released until the station got zoning approval for the new tower on Mt. Morrison in March 2004.)

A grant from the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) announced in October 2002 would allow KTSC in Colorado Springs/Pueblo and KRMJ on the Western Slope to have digital signals by May 2003. At this point in time, the DTV campaign had reached 77 percent of its goal.

The funds raised were always intended to include KRMA in Denver and sister stations KTSC, KRMJ, and KRMU in Durango. All four stations were on the air with digital television by May 2005.

This Month in the History of Rocky Mountain PBS

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