KBBI’s Concert on the Lawn won’t happen this summer

KBBI’s annual outdoor music festival Concert on the Lawn (COTL) turned 35 this past summer. The concert began as a one day thank you event to Homer following KBBI’s annual summer membership drive. A couple of flatbed trailers off Main Street, some microphones and speakers, Gary Thomas’ spaghetti and the show was on. 

Over the years the concert grew into a two-day event with vendors, a real stage, and a new location at Karen Hornaday Park. COTL was awaited each year as the highlight of the summer, offering folks an opportunity to take a break from summer work to visit with friends and listen to good music.

Much of what made COTL special, and possible, has changed over the years. There are now many entertainment, educational, sports and outdoor activities vying for attention. Concert on the Lawn is no longer THE place to meet your friends and listen to music. We now gather at the Homer Farmer’s Market or Salmonstock. We attend music, theater and other events at numerous locations throughout the week. 

And weather, never controllable and always a factor in COTL’s success, has become more challenging because the current COTL model requires commitment to a date five to six months in advance — well before a reliable forecast is available.

Over the years, COTL became a fundraiser for KBBI, but we have seen a steady trend of declining revenue as expenses continue to grow. We have never factored staff time into COTL expenses, but the staff shoulders the responsibility for producing the event; today with half the number of employees we had in the 1980s, we produce an event that is twice as long and involved.

After careful analysis and consideration of accounting and attendance information and numerous discussions at the staff level, and with the approval of KBBI’s Board of Directors and Community Advisory Board, I have decided KBBI will not produce Concert on the Lawn this summer. 

As the general manager, I, along with the Board of Directors, have a responsibility to keep the station in financial good health so we can sustain operations in the future. We need to focus on public radio services that no other non-profit organizations can provide, and we need to prioritize staff time and efforts to serve our local communities. 

During this year without Concert on the Lawn, we will use the significant energy and time that this project requires to explore new opportunities to benefit our communities. We will continue to enhance current services and continue moving KBBI forward as technology and our communities evolve.  

 I’d like to thank the great many volunteers, musicians and staff members who have helped make Concert on the Lawn a memorable event year after year. We hope that all those who care about KBBI and our communities will share their ideas and thoughts about Concert on the Lawn through the KBBI Community Advisory Board.  

Your input will be important as we consider the long-term future of this event. An email link to submit comments to CAB is on our website at www.kbbi.org. It’s in the “About Us” tab, or go directly to cab@kbbi.org. Thanks, everyone.

David S. Anderson is the general manager of KBBI.