As an occasional listener of “Public Radio” and an occasional watcher of “Public Television”, I am very familiar with the bi-annual pledge drive, that time in which all public stations must go to the public and beg for funds to continue to exist. It’s really somewhat amazing that in these days of hundreds of cable channels, Public TV and radio stations must still operate on such an odd business model.
I confess that I’ve always kind of enjoyed Public TV pledge drives. Back in Indiana, the pledge drive was usually the occasion for Doctor Who marathons or other special programming. (One time, they even ran a Star Trek marathon of the best original episodes.) During the pledge breaks they would talk about the programming and discuss interesting trivia. With their banks of phones, themed donation gifts and guest stars, the whole enterprise seemed a bit like a science fiction convention.
On the other hand, I find public radio pledge drives to be absolutely unbearable. They interrupt the regular programming (for me that’s usually Morning Edition or All Things Considered) and say the same things, over and over and over again. They can’t really spice up the pitch in any meaningful way so they’re reduced to repeating “pledge now” and telling you how much public radio adds to your life. I can’t stand it.
The pledge drive goes on for an agonizing five days and every morning more people call in to make their pledge. Usually the stations meets their financial goal on the last day.
So, here’s an idea for all of you who are pledging to public radio. I think it’s a win-win proposition. First, thanks for supporting the programming. Second, since you know you’re going to make your pledge eventually, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE just get it over with and make your pledge ON THE FIRST DAY! Wouldn’t that be fun? That way, they’ll meet their goal, you’ll feel your sense of satisfaction and purpose, and the stupid thing will be over so I can go back to hearing their liberal, commie, pinko version of the news.