Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Marathons, Music, and Money

It's about that time of year again. Non-commercial radio stations all across the country are coming to their listeners, had in hand, to ask for their financial support.

We've all heard the pitches, and I suspect we've all ignored them (I know I did for years). But here's the thing. It's not an exaggeration when stations say they can't survive without direct listener contributions. Unlike other countries, which fund their public broadcasters, America's official stance is sink or swim.

And that's certainly the case here at WTJU. Our fall fund-raising marathon is coming up on October 23, and we will be looking to you, gentle listener, for a financial contribution.

I understand there's a perception that WTJU really doesn't need the money. After all, isn't it owned by the University of Virginia? (They do hold the license) Don't they pay for everything? (Partially. About half of the station's operating costs are covered by UVa). Don't public radio stations get huge government handouts? (Hardly. Our share of money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is only a few thousand dollars) What about all those underwriting announcements WTJU airs? Doesn't that pay the bills? (Partially, but we'd have to do pretty much non-stop underwriting announcements occasionally interrupted by a song or two to cover everything)

So it comes back to you, the listener. About half of our operating budget has to be raised from the community. A small part is covered by community-minded businesses through underwriting, but the bulk of it rests with you.

Will you call in with a pledge this time? Or go to our website and do so?

Ask yourself how important WTJU is to you, and pledge accordingly. Personally, I'm looking for a lot of big boy and big girl pledges this time around -- $100 and higher.

For the quality of music we provide day in and day out, I don't think that's unreasonable.

And here's something to consider: if every single listener pledged $100 this fund drive would be over before it started -- and so would the next one. But not everyone will pledge.

What about you? Will you help keep WTJU going?

- Ralph

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