Monday, October 22, 2007

WTJU and the 10%

It's fundraising time across the public radio system once again. Most non-commercial stations do two fund drives a year, one in the spring and one in the fall, and WTJU is no exception.

While most stations have one or more development professionals on the payroll to coordinate the campaign, WTJU relies on its almost all-volunteer staff to organize and mount their fund drives.

Traditionally, WTJU does a Marathon featuring a genre of music as the vehicle for their fundraising efforts. This week, it's all classical. Next week it will be all jazz. The spring drive will feature all folk and all rock programming.

I don't think I'm telling tales out of school when I say our volunteers uniformly produce an amazing array of special programming for these Marathons that is a joy to listen to -- and are almost completely ineffectual at raising money for the station.

There are some fundamental concepts about radio that most stations incorporate into their fund drive presentations -- concepts that recognize how people listen. WTJU's merry band of amateurs ignores most of the precepts -- primarily out of ignorance -- which prevents the station from realizing its fundraising goals.

Studies have shown that only about 10% of a station's audience will pledge their support. And since WTJU doesn't do a good job get its message out, its response rate is even lower.

If you're a listener to WTJU, either over the air or through the Internet stream, there are some things you need to know. You may not get this message listening to the Marathon, because it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. But it is important.

  1. WTJU really needs your help. About half of the station's operating budget has to come from the community. Underwriting takes care of some of that, but the bulk of it ($50,000 for this drive) has to come from the listeners.
  2. Your pledge is very important. Some of our announcers, bless their hearts, get excited when someone calls in with a $10.00 pledge. But let's get real. Most of our listeners are professionals with a fair amount of disposable income. A $100 pledge should be the least you should consider giving. After all, 500 people x $100 pledges = fund raising over in record time.
  3. WTJU needs the funds not just to survive, but to thrive. Some of our announcers have only a vague idea of what the money goes for, so they'll offer up goofy examples such as buying CDs for the library. Well, if that were true, then a $20.00 pledge wouldn't be out of line. But the money we have to raise has to do more. It's the money raised from the community that pays for replacement equipment (which can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars). Any improvements to WTJU's signal or service comes out of that money as well. And any efforts we want to make to grow our audience come out of that under-funded pot, too.

So here's the deal: if you listen to WTJU, please make a pledge -- especially if you've never pledged before. You can do it online through And when you make that pledge, make it more than chump change. Think about what the station is worth to you, and pledge accordingly -- it should, at least, be more than you spend on coffee for a week.

I'll be going on the air a few times myself over the next two weeks to do my part, but I can only compensate so much for the eccentricity of a WTJU Marathon. If you a listener, now's the time to become part of that 10% that keeps WTJU going to the benefit of all. We need your help. Even if we don't always say it on the air.

- Ralph

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