Here we are, just a few short weeks after the historic WAMC fund drive. Between the locked box that raised half of the money before the on-air drive started and three and a half days of actual fund drive, we ended up with a million dollars in the bank.
I recently met someone who told me that she knew I am not really as nervous as I say I am about the upcoming February 2nd fund drive. I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve done about a hundred fund drives and I worry before each and every one of them. I lose sleep; I break out into inexplicable sweats; I have nightmares. It is always up to my Roselle to remind me how people love the station, how much they depend on it and how they would never let it fail. You know that nightmare we have about the exam in the college class we never even knew we were registered for? This one is that we have a fund drive and the phones don’t ring and the on-line pledges don’t come in. Roselle always puts her hand on my neck and assures me that everything is going to be fine. And, of course, she has always been right.
Here are my fearless predictions for the coming year. Remember the rules. These can be things that I don’t want to see happen and so I hope to put the whammy on them by predicting them. They can also be things that I do want to happen, so I predict them in order to help make them happen. Then, there are those predictions that I really do think will happen. I leave it to you, dear readers, to figure out which is which.
Toward the end of every year, we all seem to receive a slew of solicitation letters. Let’s not kid ourselves. People wait until the last minute to decide where to send their tax-deductible contributions. They have a great many choices. There are genuine charities that really deserve their money. There are churches and synagogues, temples and mosques. There are environmental organizations and educational institutions, hospitals and more. And then, dear friends, there are the WAMC stations. If you don’t use the radio station, perhaps this is a time to tune out. But if you do, let’s deal with the reality of what, as a communal group, we are up against.
We are about to embark on one of the most telling fund drives of all. The truth is that we are only as good as our last fund drive. We have to raise a million dollars. Some of this money is already in the locked box and we are grateful for everyone who has already done something. There is a relatively tiny bit of money in our First Amendment Fund to be used at the discretion of the Board of Trustees if someone or something threatens our right to do our job. But otherwise, we live from fund drive to fund drive. Failure, of course, is not an option.
At the beginning of October comes the next fund drive. Before you groan, please try to remember how much these drives mean to the continuation of the station that you listen to and depend on. Sooner or later, someone has to pay the piper. The only way that we can be sure that WAMC remains in its present form – with the freedom to say what we want, preserve balance, and operate as we have been doing - is for each person to do what they can. When that happens, when everyone pitches in, the station flourishes. I was recently at Tanglewood and several folks came up to say hello. They proudly announced that they loved the station and were members. Obviously, I thanked them with everything I had in me. That’s because when someone tells me that they understand, I am incredibly, personally and humbly grateful. I know that every day people tune in and often stay tuned in. They often tell me of things that I haven’t heard and I am grateful for that, too.
As the summer comes to an end and we are threatened with yet another horrendous ice age winter, we should take a moment to think about everything that WAMC does to help with our extended weather forecasts that have no peers anywhere. People need to know about tornadoes and nor’easters and snow and ice. In fact, we have no higher priority here at WAMC than keeping you informed about what’s coming your way. But it is more than just information. It’s David Guistina in the morning telling you what to expect and then suggesting what you might want to do about it. Even if it’s a simple suggestion that you watch out for the black ice or bundle up you know that you have a real friend when you need one.
If there’s one thing I know about our WAMC listeners, it’s that you’re there for us when we need you. Over 30 years worth of fund drives have proven that. You know that when we ask, it’s because we truly can’t do it without you. Sometimes we find people who really love the station and can afford to do more, and such is the case now.
I recently had the real pleasure of spending some time at the WAMC studios with Garrison Keillor who is, of course, an immense star. He’s very tall and shows some wear and tear around the edges. He has tremendous intellect and he is sardonically funny. As you know he has the “Writer’s Almanac” every day and I love the show, it’s so interesting; a little bit of history, a little bit of poetry and he always provokes thought. Every once in a while he likes to push the envelope and if it involves something naughty it can present radio problems for us but so far we’re still breathing. You know those poets, always crossing boundaries.