Join Club

Amid work to right-size its budget, Arlington Independent Media seeks sponsors for free community event next month

The future home of Arlington Independent Media’s podcast and broadcasting studios in Green Valley (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 6:30 p.m. on 08/25/23) Arlington Independent Media is seeking sponsors for a free community event it will host early next month.

Arlington’s public access TV channel, its community radio station and a media training provider is throwing its first-ever “MusicFest.” The event, on Sept. 7, from 5:30-10 p.m. at its Clarendon studios at 2701 Wilson Blvd, will have live music, food and drinks and vendors.

Ahead of the event, the organization is seeking individual donations as well as sponsors, who can get perks such as logo placement, free beer and wine and radio announcements on WERA 96.7 FM for contributing $1,000 to $5,000.

The event comes as the Arlington County Board is encouraging the organization to vary its funding sources. The fundraiser coincides with AIM’s 40th anniversary and will “honor our legacy as Arlington’s premier community media center and to celebrate AIM’s exciting future at the forefront of media arts,” per a letter to supporters.

“Arlington Independent Media has witnessed tremendous growth in 2023,” it continued. “We have been continuing the build-out of our new podcast/broadcasting multimedia studios at our South Arlington location, pioneering our new youth-centered journalism initiative, upgrading our cabling system and reimagining our training and membership programs.”

The new studio, located in Green Valley, is set to have a ribbon-cutting on Oct. 20, AIM CEO Whytni Kernodle says. As for the Youth Journalism Initiative (YJI) vaunted in the letter to prospective sponsors, she says 10 students have come through the program. Another 20 participated in a Youth Journalism Club that AIM hosted with Arlington Public Library and 35 attended a camp intended to prepare them for YJI.

Kernodle, who has made a commitment to racial justice part of her mission as AIM’s leader, says the organization is changing its selection process for training programs to uplift marginalized voices. It is also looking to make membership free so people do not feel excluded based on cost.

Next month’s fundraiser could offset the financial impact of striking membership fees and bigger financial headwinds AIM faces. For instance, a once-reliable funding source — a cable franchise agreement, which provides funding based on local cable TV subscription numbers — become increasingly unpredictable.

After years of trying to lessen AIM’s reliance on tax dollars for operating expenses, the County Board approved a 33% increase its support to the organization in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, giving it $506,579.

Still, the County Board wants AIM to demonstrate it can fundraise and clean up its budget.

The organization’s federal Form 990s are behind schedule and a profit-and-loss document ARLnow reviewed from 2018-2021 shows the organization had lost more than $345,500 between 2018-2020. A copy of AIM’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget, which ARLnow also reviewed, appears to show AIM is working on meeting the Board’s directive.

In all, AIM took in $1.3 million this immediate past fiscal year, which ended in June, up from $564,587 last year. This includes a 30% increase in unrestricted grant funds, a $35,000 increase in revenue from underwriting sponsors, and new revenue from camps and studio fees.

Still, more than half of the $750,000 increase comes from an infusion of “restricted grants” equivalent to the Public, Educational and Government (PEG) funding it logged: $433,054. The sudden infusion, earmarked for capital expenses, came after three fiscal years in which no PEG funds were allocated, per the profit-and-loss statement.

While AIM ended the 2022 fiscal year in the red, losing $86,211, it finished 2023 with a balanced budget. With the uptick in revenue came increased expenses, including an increase in salaries that began in 2022. AIM ended the 2023 fiscal year spending $505,000 on salaries — separate from benefits and payroll taxes.

Last year, that was five full-time and two-part time staff members, Kernodle says. This year, AIM has four full-time and one part-time staff member.

Previously, salaries had been falling since 2018-19, when AIM paid employees nearly $430,000, according to the profit-and-loss statement.

“The most important step I took was finding the right people to create the right team,” Kernodle says. “What was clear in 2021 and is still clear now is that individuals, particularly those 50 and younger, are not willing to work for less than what they deem their value.”

Not everyone takes that view.

ARLnow reviewed emails and spoke with sources familiar with the organization who suggested that the organization’s financial situation, the increase in compensation and conflicts between leadership and members of AIM’s board all contributed to turnover among producers and the board of directors.

Kernodle confirmed the board member and producer turnover, saying three new board members will be appointed this fall. She attributed the turnover, however, to people being uncomfortable with the steps she has taken to right-size AIM.

“Performative leadership is too often the norm and leadership is too often a title and not an act,” she said. “But understanding how equity and inclusion play a part in today’s society is vital for the future of our community because it will lead to dismantling the systemic inequalities still rampant in our community.”

Recent Stories

A stranger tried to lure a Williamsburg Middle School student into her car at Friday’s dismissal, according to police. Arlington County police are so far classifying the incident as “suspicious,”…

A large fire department and police response is on scene at a fatal house fire in McLean, near the Arlington border. The fire was reported around 9:15 a.m. on the…

Last week ARLnow received an interesting reader email. The writer’s suggestion: we should beautify Arlington County by encouraging those with inflatable holiday decorations to keep them inflated at all times,…

Morning Notes

Palestine Rally in Pentagon City — On Saturday afternoon: “Palestine rally at S. Hayes + Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City. Expect delays.” [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter] VHC Details New Facility…

About Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT): Latinas Leading Tomorrow is a dynamic 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young Latina women through education, mentorship, and leadership development. We are committed to fostering a community of future leaders who will make a significant impact to the community.

Job Description: We are seeking a passionate and dedicated Part-time Executive Director to lead our organization into its next phase of growth and impact. The ideal candidate will be a visionary leader who can oversee day-to-day operations, drive fundraising efforts, and cultivate relationships with stakeholders. This is a 1099 position; Remote position with ability to attend DMV events; 8-10 hours a week; $35-40/per hour.

Key Responsibilities:

Oversee program operations, including educational and community initiatives.
Ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, maintaining trust and accountability.
Develop and execute a strategic vision aligned with our mission and values.
Lead fundraising efforts in partnership with the Board Members.
Cultivate relationships with community partners, schools, educators, and donors.
Demonstrate strong leadership skills, fostering a positive organizational culture.
Communicate effectively with diverse stakeholders and make compelling public presentations.
Promote inclusivity and collaboration throughout the organization.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.

Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.

Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.

Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Live Standup Comedy Starring Casey James Salengo (Jimmy Kimmel Live,…

Standup Comedy Starring Casey James Salengo (Comedy Central, Jimmy Kimmel Live)

Friday, December 29

Headliner: Casey James Salengo

Casey James Salengo is a NYC-based comedian who’s been featured on Comedy Central Presents, Jimmy Kimmel Live, This Week at the Cellar,


Subscribe to our mailing list