The crucial, life-giving fund drive begins Monday October 5th. I don’t have to tell anyone that this is where we live. No fund drive, no station.
The themes are always the same: “We can’t do it without you” and “We’re all in this together.” As I see it, these two assertions are truth. We are nothing without each and every listener. The model is for everyone to “get it” and to kick in. This is a community project. If and when everyone assumes ownership, we are made whole.
We do have a good time on our reaffirming fund drives. They are hard but very gratifying. We love to hear from each one of you. It truly is like how we used to feel when we were going back to camp. There are old friends, good food, and good feelings as we do what we have all done so well as a group. I am always gratified when we hear from both old and new friends. There is nothing that makes me feel better than when someone calls and says that they just got into town and have been listening and can’t believe how lucky they are to have found such an interesting radio station.
We were recently out in Asheville, North Carolina, at the inauguration of the fabulous former President of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Mary Grant. I can’t tell you how many people came up to us to tell us how important WAMC is in their lives. People tell us that they listen to our streaming on their computers or iPhones, no matter where in the world they happen to be.
All this goes to prove that if everyone listening contributed, the drive could be over in minutes. So why doesn’t this happen? I have always contended that people actually love the WAMC fund drives. It is a time to let our hair down and talk to each other; to say whether we like the opera or hate it; to offer political opinions along with the pledges. There is energy and a real time feel during the fund drive that is unique in all of public radio.
I’ve always found it interesting that after making $100,000 a day all week, at the very end of the drive, there have been times when we just can’t get the last few thousand dollars. I have always thought that’s because there are people who so enjoy the drives that they don’t want to see them end. After all, these drives are the ultimate human drama. I’ve done an awful lot of them, probably a hundred or more since we first started to “Save Our Station (SOS)” in 1979. We did it then and we’ve done it ever since. In the meantime, we have been together as President Bush sent troops into Iraq under very dubious pretenses. We were all together when that guy bought a tee-shirt that proclaimed “Peace on Earth,” and was promptly arrested in the very mall where he purchased the shirt.
Then there was the Mario Cuomo valedictory after he lost an election to George Pataki, the very same George Pataki who tried to eliminate WAMC’s share of the small amount of money that the state gives to every public radio station, in a thinly veiled attempt to get even for keeping Mario on the air after he lost the election. In each case, we hung together and kept the great station going.
So, as we approach the October 5th fund drive let us all remember that we are part of a very important group of people who have made a radio station and who will keep it open. I love you all and know that you get it. I am so privileged to be here and I hope that we will keep it going forward. It is only when we turn our backs on something that we cherish that we lose our way.