Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WTJU and the Dull Surprise

So this morning I did another fund-raising marathon program for WTJU. If you've been following the saga, you'll know that I've had a program under just about every set of circumstances (good and bad) during WTJU's fall fund drive.

This morning I did a jazz show featuring the music of Buddy Rich. So how did I do? Slightly better than I did Saturday evening, but I still raised only a fraction of what I did the week before.

On the plus side, I was in my regular time slot. In theory I should have been talking to the same people that listen to my show throughout the year.

On the minus side, I wasn't playing classical music; the genre normally heard in that time slot.

And the results were disastrous. For the past five days, we've been airing classical music throughout the day, driving away listeners who are used to hearing jazz, folk or rock programming at specific times. Last night we finished classical fund-raising programming, and started jazz.

So in the middle of the week, the station goes completely to jazz. The jazz listeners who would perhaps respond to this programming were nowhere to be found this morning. And why should we expect them to be? First, that time slot has always been classical music, so jazz lovers have learned not to turn on the dial before 9:00AM, when jazz programming normally starts.

As for my regular audience? Well, I think they gave generously Friday morning when I was on (remember, most people maintain the same listening habits Monday through Friday) and were done.

And those that weren't? Well, I'm sure once they heard the Buddy Rich Big Band swinging hard they knew there was no classical music this morning. *Click*

So the classical audience left, and the jazz audience didn't show up. Several of my fellow volunteers were surprised that the show did so poorly since I had been so successful last week. Nothing surprising about it -- for those who understand how radio works.

I did as well as I could -- and I really do appreciate the calls from the few folks who did pledge -- but it's tough to fight reality.

- Ralph

Day 134 of the WJMA Web Watch.


  1. This sounds so ridiculously frustrating to me. Who wants to keep this system in place?

  2. It's inertial. The two most common phrases I hear when I try to discuss this:

    1) We've always done it this way.

    2) Well, that may be how other stations do it, but our listeners are different/unique.

  3. How sustainable is it going forward?

  4. It isn't. The same group of people contribute over and over. And as they age and retire/move away/die, they're not being replaced.

    Most public radio stations place growing the membership base on par with hitting the monetary goal for the drive. 10%-20% growth is considered a good target (depending on the market size and other factors).

    And remember -- a growth in donors doesn't have to have a one-to-one correspondence with a growth in listenership. It can be accomplished by getting the fund-raising message out more effectively.

  5. Must... have... coffee with you to discuss....

  6. I would love it. Any day next week (except Wednesday).

  7. How about Thursday or Friday? I appear to be pretty free both days.

  8. Looks like this week was a wash. What about Thursday, next week?