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  #1  
Old 10-12-2006, 02:04 PM
Subway Prophet Subway Prophet is offline
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Why I stopped giving money to NPR...

Not quite pit-worthy. I can't work myself up to using harsh language on this one. However.

The local NPR station (KERA in Dallas, TX) is having one of their thrice-quarterly fund drives. This may be an exaggeration, I think they might only be twice-quarterly. Anyway, I can't listen to the station now, it seems like 3 out of 4 times I turn it on, they're asking for money. This is incredibly annoying, and puts me off of listening to radio in general for at least a week after the drive is finished.

I used to donate, at least once a year, to both the local NPR and PBS stations, no matter where I was living, until I realized that they'll never stop their fund drives. As far as business models go, I've never understood the logic in holding your audience hostage like this. Obviously, annoying the cash out of your fan base works. They obviously rake in at least enough revenue to operate another 2-3 months, or they'd have stopped long ago. But still it just drives me nuts.

I'm not suggesting that I know of a better method for pubic broadcasting to generate revenue, but obviously there are techniques that work for other organizations. And can you imagine the reaction if other non-profits used this technique?

"Hello, welcome to Shriner's Children's Hospital, we'll be able to help your child, but first let's listen to the director drone on about the hospital's many benefits, then we'll ask for a donation from you - in exchange for a wonderful high quality coffe mug of course - before we'll start looking at your kid. We'll be doing this at least 5 times an hour, so get comfortable."

I like NPR. I really like NPR. (Except for Garrison Keillor; he makes my teeth hurt.) But I really hate their business model. More newsing, less shmoozing, says I.

Arg.

Fume.

[/rant]
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  #2  
Old 10-12-2006, 02:19 PM
Ogre Ogre is offline
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$190 million was cut from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting budget this year. True, $90 million was restored in June, but they're still massively short on fundage. Thus, they beg (and lose listeners because of similar complaints to the OP.)

Still, I don't know. I love NPR, but I'm not sure government money should be spent on public radio. I waffle on this one.
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Old 10-12-2006, 02:29 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is offline
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I hate our local NPR affiliate's pledge drives as much as anyone -- especially the frantic whining/begging of local host Larry Mantle. But I certainly wouldn't stop donating to them because of it. Frankly, I'd like to make sure they keep going until a better model is found. And when I donate, I don't feel guilty at all about turning it off when they start asking for money.

Subway Prophet, I understand what you're getting at. But I don't really see how withholding donations from a service you apparently continue to use is helping to solve the problem, either.
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Old 10-12-2006, 02:29 PM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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While I certainly share your frustration w/ the never ending fund raising, by NPR and PBS, I think we need to consider the impact of loosing these services. I'm also concerned about the increasing commercialization of the two entities and the possible influence it could have on the content of the programming, especially the investigative journalism.
Commercial broadcasting, both TV and radio, are under siege by a very few mega corporations and our congress seems inclined to allow them to take over. Can you imagine Fox being the model of the future for providing all our broadcast news and commentary? A similar situation exists in the print media.
For these reasons alone, I think it's essential that we continue to support public broadcasting.
I hope you'll reconsider your position.
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  #5  
Old 10-12-2006, 02:31 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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I don't not donate because of the incessant fund drives. I don't donate because of the drivel they play*, which only seems to get worse during the fund drives, as if to say "you are not in our demographic! We do not want you as a donator!"

*I don't have a problem with the quality of NPR's programming per se. I'm referring to PBS fund drives, (and the classical music they play on the non-NPR part of the NPR-related classical station (heavy on the romantic and opera, light on Baroque and earlier.))
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Old 10-12-2006, 02:50 PM
Subway Prophet Subway Prophet is offline
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Believe me, if I could give them a large infusion to meet their goals and make them stop yammering, I would. Gladly.

Ludovic brings up another point that's been bugging me - it seems that all the quality programming (measured using my yardstick, of course) is being pulled from the local station. For example, I vastly prefer PRI's The Tavis Smiley Show (which until recently had a late night slot here) over NPR's Farai Chideya's News & Notes (which recently replaced Smiley's slot). I don't know if one costs the station more than then other, but it seems that we're seeing more and more NPR shows and fewer PRI or APM shows.

(Correction: I assumed that Garrison Keillor was NPR - nope, he's APM. Still makes my teeth hurt.)
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Old 10-12-2006, 03:08 PM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subway Prophet
Believe me, if I could give them a large infusion to meet their goals and make them stop yammering, I would. Gladly.

Ludovic brings up another point that's been bugging me - it seems that all the quality programming (measured using my yardstick, of course) is being pulled from the local station. For example, I vastly prefer PRI's The Tavis Smiley Show (which until recently had a late night slot here) over NPR's Farai Chideya's News & Notes (which recently replaced Smiley's slot). I don't know if one costs the station more than then other, but it seems that we're seeing more and more NPR shows and fewer PRI or APM shows.

(Correction: I assumed that Garrison Keillor was NPR - nope, he's APM. Still makes my teeth hurt.)
If you don't like the programming, write and tell them why. I, just recently, complained about a substitute host. Not only did I receive a personal reply, but she was replaced a couple days later. No I don't think, for even a second, that she was replaced because of my email, but I suspect that I was just one of many who complained. If you're displeased, especially as a financial supporter, speak out, they do listen.
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  #8  
Old 10-12-2006, 03:41 PM
Reloy3 Reloy3 is offline
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My problem with NPR fundraising is that it really isn't "commercial free". The always seerm to have a sponsor, and mention them frequently.
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  #9  
Old 10-12-2006, 03:44 PM
Titus Titus is offline
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*swears*

Wrong tab. If the above reply could be deleted, that would be great.

I used to listen to NPR a lot. As in, all day every day. At first it was interesting, then it got really irritating. The station literally spews snobbery. Is there something wrong with reporting 'normal' art news? Does everything have to be stuff high-ballers from 1920 were talking about?

And honestly, move the mic away from your mouth girl. I don't want to hear the saliva and pizza smacking around in your mouth as you tell me about the horrific political situation in some european country the size of my mom's farm.
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  #10  
Old 10-12-2006, 03:45 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Originally Posted by Titus
. So... what's a very useful item that you would appreciate recieving as a gift, but no one gave you for your wedding?.
You could donate to NPR in their name.
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Old 10-12-2006, 03:46 PM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is offline
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There was an article in the local weekly alternative paper here in Austin about the local NPR station. They said that KUT had better revenue streams than many commercial stations, and turns a profit. Of course that didn't stop them from adding an emergency fund raiser for 'equipment'.
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  #12  
Old 10-12-2006, 03:59 PM
Subway Prophet Subway Prophet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reloy3
My problem with NPR fundraising is that it really isn't "commercial free". The always seerm to have a sponsor, and mention them frequently.
This used to bug me, but numbers I've seen in the past decade or so indicate that the stations get less than half their money from corporate sponsors. I have no idea how much NPR gets from corporate donations, but I'd imagine (for no good reason) it's similarly low.
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Old 10-12-2006, 04:03 PM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is online now
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I find the pledge drives rather annoying also, but I find the minimal commercials the rest of the year make up for it. I would still rather dodge the fundraising (here in MN is seems to be about 4 times a year) then listen to 15+ minutes per hour of commercials for McDonalds and "Desperate Housewives".

Minnesota public radio has tried several way to reduce on-air fund raising, but they always seem to come back to the old style begging for a week. I can only assume that that means it is actually the most successful way for them to raise the money they need. One time, several years ago, they set a goal, and promised to stop the fund raising as soon as they hit that goal. You would think that that would get people rushing for the phone, since they were planning on donating anyway. Apparently it didn't. Next funddrive, we were back to the same old thing. Too bad.
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  #14  
Old 10-12-2006, 04:07 PM
Saltire Saltire is offline
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I work at a PBS station, and believe me, we don't like pledge much either. But we do like it better than most of the alternatives.

The way I explain it to people is that while public broadcasting sells the programs to you by asking you to pay for them if you like them, commercial broadcasting is using programming to gather a valuable audience which they can then sell to their advertizers. Do you prefer to be a consumer or a product?

I don't know the averages for NPR, but PBS stations tend to pledge for 3 to 4 percent of their broadcast time. Commercial TV tends to run ads for 26 percent of every hour.

Also, on the subject of pledge programming being worse than regularly scheduled stuff, trust me, we've tried getting pledges on things like Masterpiece Theater and Nova. In most cases, Dr. Wayne Dyer and old Roy Orbison concerts are vastly more successful in bringing in the dollars. I wish we knew how to change that, but I don't think anyone's figured out how.

By the way, I work in the mailroom and do some desktop publishing here, and I don't have anything to do with scheduling pledge drives. The above are my own opinions based on spending time with those that do program the drives, but there's probably lots of things in play there that I have no knowledge of. Don't mistake my opinion for the official word from PBS or my member station.
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  #15  
Old 10-12-2006, 04:35 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Originally Posted by Saltire
In most cases, Dr. Wayne Dyer and old Roy Orbison concerts are vastly more successful in bringing in the dollars.
Speaking of which, I will not contribute to a station that engages in spreading ignorance, especially in the guise of something extra-special I ostensibly want to see .
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  #16  
Old 10-12-2006, 04:38 PM
Agonist Agonist is offline
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As to a (partial) solution to annoying pledge drives, KQED in San Francisco regularly does a "quiet drive": at the end of each program they make some simple announcement along the lines of "We're having our [annual/quarterly/whatever] pledge drive right now. Please donate to keep us in business." The first time they had it, it was received with cheers and was wildly successful. Now, people have gotten used to it, so the enthusiasm (and therefore participation) is less. I think they often run a regular fund drive the week after the quiet drive if they don't make their goal.

(Feel free to correct me on this info. It's been many years since I lived in San Francisco, and it may have changed.)
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  #17  
Old 10-12-2006, 04:41 PM
taxi78cab taxi78cab is offline
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More of the NPR affiliates need to talk to the folks at WAMC in Albany, NY. The fund drive is actually MORE fun than their usual programming, and I'm guessing in no small part because of this, it's over within a week, usually 5-6 days. I believe they do this 3 times a year.

No, it's not as large a station as some of the others, but that also means the number of listeners and donors is similarly smaller. And yet they still do it that quickly. I miss them.

(Yeah, I know some people hate the head guy at WAMC - I'm not leaving out his name to protect his privacy or anything... I just can't spell it - but you have to admit that he's a heck of a lot more effective at this stuff than most people.)
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Old 10-12-2006, 04:44 PM
Carol the Impaler Carol the Impaler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic
Speaking of which, I will not contribute to a station that engages in spreading ignorance, especially in the guise of something extra-special I ostensibly want to see .
Not to highjack, but I've never heard this. Tell me more about this ignorance spreading? Just curious (as a side note, I turn his shit off when it's on, but that's because I find him annoying).
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  #19  
Old 10-12-2006, 05:06 PM
garygnu garygnu is offline
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My local station started a new thing this time around. They started taking donations ahead of time on-line, and reduced the number of pledge days based on the money taken in in the weeks leading up to the live drive.
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  #20  
Old 10-12-2006, 09:06 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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Originally Posted by garygnu
My local station started a new thing this time around. They started taking donations ahead of time on-line, and reduced the number of pledge days based on the money taken in in the weeks leading up to the live drive.
Indiana Public Radio does this, too. In addition, their style of pledge-drive talk is much better than that of WFYI in Indianapolis. Instead of the whining and pleading, they are all, "We're professionals here. Our news coverage wins awards every year. We give you what you want, and nobody else does. We don't like these pledge drives, either, but we have to pay for this programming. You listen; do your part."

Dignity, that's the difference.
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Old 10-12-2006, 11:49 PM
Runs With Scissors Runs With Scissors is offline
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Right!

I tell ya...good, free radio is SO hard to find.
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  #22  
Old 10-13-2006, 05:12 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Why I won't give money to my local NPR station.
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  #23  
Old 10-13-2006, 07:10 AM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Originally Posted by niblet_head
Not to highjack, but I've never heard this. Tell me more about this ignorance spreading? Just curious (as a side note, I turn his shit off when it's on, but that's because I find him annoying).
I also don't listen to him enough to know for certain, but the few times he's been on and I've been too lazy to change the channel I've been subjected to woo-woo spirituality of the worst kind. Unsupported blanket statements about the nature of life without the excuse of a longstanding religious tradition (or the aesthetic benefits watching a religious service can have regardless of actual belief.)

In short, it was the type of talk that Dopers would scream "CITE" every other sentence. For instance, he says that "when you change the way you're looking at things, the things you're looking at change." I wondered how he was going to connect this to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle to at least provide a modicum of scientific background to the claim, however misplaced. But no, he seems to just hang it out there as a sort of optimistic turdnugget.
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  #24  
Old 10-13-2006, 11:15 AM
GingerOfTheNorth GingerOfTheNorth is offline
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I don't listen to NPR for two reasons:

First, Baltimore has a wonderful classical station which is run by Baltimore City Community College. They fund-raise for two days per year. http://www.wbjc.com/

Secondly, while in the car I listen to CBC on Sirius Satellite. Public broadcasting for North America, paid for by Canadian tax dollars. Yes, we pay for the Sirius service, but it is not solely for CBC.
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  #25  
Old 10-13-2006, 12:49 PM
Slypork Slypork is offline
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Perpetually
Begging
Stations

Need
Pledge
Revenue

I will pay for what I want to see and hear. I pay for cable TV and satellite radio. If I donít find I am getting value for my dollar, I wonít buy it.
My kids used to like PBS for the kidís shows but most of those shows are now available on cable channels at various times so there is no limitation on viewing. My wife used to watch the cooking shows, but we get the food network. I used to watch Nova but now I have the Science Channel.
NPR bores me. The stories they report on can be found in various periodicals and I can do without the reenactments and sound effects.
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  #26  
Old 10-13-2006, 03:37 PM
Slypork Slypork is offline
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A little update on how well NPR is doing.
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  #27  
Old 10-13-2006, 04:32 PM
Subway Prophet Subway Prophet is offline
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Lest I give anyone the wrong impression, let me just state clearly: I think NPR (and public boradcasting in general) has some really good quality programs and some very professional and enjoyable people working on them. I really enjoy Weekend Edition with Scott Simon, and Diane Rehm is one of the best interviewers I've ever listened to, even with the speech impediment.

The local NPR station employed one of my all-time favorite radio personalities, Glenn Mitchell, until his death last year. His two hours a day, five days a week were never boring, and half of his Friday broadcast was a Straight Dope-ish call-in called "Anything You Ever Wanted To Know". Even now, after they've reformatted his time slot and replaced half of it with BBC America, the station still keeps the "Anything You Ever Wanted To Know" format.

Especially here in North Texas, where every other station has the same damn Clearchannel format, where all the morning shows employ the same phlemmy-laugh sophmore dropouts, and all the commentary is so right-wing it makes me want to puke (even the classical music station - bleh) ... the local NPR station is like a breath of fresh air. After moving here, it's about the only radio I can listen to without twitching.

I'm not even put off by the fundraising itself. It's just the presentation. It's the suddenly-chummy producers and the executive donut box holders yammering on the air about the benefits of membership and the quality of the programming and so on, for 15-20 minutes at a stretch, sans script, sans personality, sans direction, using the word "um" far more times than necessary, taking up more than half the air time of the show they're interrupting... it makes me scream. Yes, I understand you want more money. Yes, I know you have a goal to meet this hour. Yes, I know that what you're begging for on-air is your job. I get all that. I don't need a reminder of this every time I turn on the radio (literally!) from 7 AM to 10 PM. It's insulting.

I want to support them. But I feel that if I give them money, then I'm only helping prove for them that their annoying-the-crap-out-of-the-audience tactic works.

Wow. Maybe I should've put this in the pit. Sorry folks, it's off my chest now.
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  #28  
Old 10-13-2006, 05:49 PM
DirkGntly DirkGntly is offline
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You know...I watch PBS on most Saturdays to catch the woodworking and home improvement shows. Unfortunately, since the local PBS station has a fund drive every 12 weeks or so, I am forever missing the 2nd part of one of Norm Abram's projects (DAMMIT!) because they pre-empt their regular programs...

...I think they are basically saying, "Pay up, or this dreck that you're watching now, instead of the good stuff you usually watch is all you're going to get!" Personally, I think it would be more effective if they kept playing the stuff I like to watch, and put the pledge pleads at the regular breaks, instead of like they do it now...(and yes, I do donate to my local station).
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  #29  
Old 10-13-2006, 08:21 PM
sj2 sj2 is offline
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Wow. I just gave 75 bucks this morning...but I really, really wanted that KUOW tumbler! I think the fact that NPR has kept me company while night-nursing my son since his birth in July is really the reason I gave this time. Although, after midnight programming is the BBC so my little boy may just have a British accent...that or he will have Ira Glass's accent.

Seriously, I dread the pledge drive. You can tell that our local hosts are not thrilled with the vamping they are forced to do, but they do a good job at it, really. Plus I find the best-of-the-best reruns pretty interesting too. In all, NPR is the only place I find interesting stories. I learn things and I am happy to give a little for it. That, and I want to look ultra-cool with my KUOW tumbler!
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  #30  
Old 10-14-2006, 09:52 AM
Subway Prophet Subway Prophet is offline
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Originally Posted by sj2
I want to look ultra-cool with my KUOW tumbler!
You might want to shop around for one that spells KNOW properly. It's a common typo, what with the U and the N keys so close together...
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  #31  
Old 10-14-2006, 12:31 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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I don't listen to it enough to feel pressure to donate, but it's on at work quite a bit. The other day just depressed me. They were doing their pledge drive, and the hosts had on a "special guest" who just happened to be a representative of a local mortgage company, there to explain to us grateful viewers why now is a really really really good time to refinance your mortage. I hate advertising, and I hate product placement. This was the most blatant example I've heard yet on NPR.
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Old 10-15-2006, 04:52 PM
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Public Broadcasting funding is basically welfare. If there is a market for the kind of programming that they provide, then they should be able to sell commercial air time. Government funding for
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  #33  
Old 04-30-2012, 04:14 PM
Earthbjorn Earthbjorn is offline
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Bottom Line: Commercials, Pledges, or Subscriptions?

Sure the pledge drive is annoying. Personally I don't mind having a drive and telling us how many donations you need, how much money you need etc. What I hate is the "guilt trip" segments that they do from time to time. Look, treat me like an adult. Just give me the facts and let me decide. Don't try to guilt me into it. That tactic really seems to go against what NPR stands for.

For that matter, I am even more annoyed after listening to the pledge drives, upon learning that they receive Federal Budget money. Another thing that really goes against what NPR stands for.

However, as annoying as the pledge drives are, I much prefer them to other radio stations commercials. Sometimes tv commercial can actually be entertaining, but radio commercials are always annoying. They talk real fast, and are very pushy with their tone, and you really notice the volume and tone change from you regular music or talk show. I will gladly take NPR's pledge drives over commericals.

Is there a better way? Why not use subscriptions. This would be similar to pledge drives but instead of a week of intense begging once a season, they would just talk about their subscription options maybe twice an hour. It could be q quick 30 second plug or a longer 3 minute explanation. They seem to prefer the sustaining memberships over the lump sum donations anyway.

Also, give us some statistics such as average number of subscribers and average subscription cost. (People that want to pay more can sign up for more expensive subscriptions.)
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  #34  
Old 04-30-2012, 04:44 PM
Telemark Telemark is online now
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Just a note, this thread is 6 years old and some of the original contributors haven't been around here in a while.
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  #35  
Old 04-30-2012, 08:39 PM
cosmosdan cosmosdan is offline
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Juatr noticed somebody raised a very old thread.

Comment removed

Last edited by cosmosdan; 04-30-2012 at 08:43 PM..
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  #36  
Old 04-30-2012, 08:52 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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I don't listen to it enough to feel pressure to donate, but it's on at work quite a bit. The other day just depressed me. They were doing their pledge drive, and the hosts had on a "special guest" who just happened to be a representative of a local mortgage company, there to explain to us grateful viewers why now is a really really really good time to refinance your mortage. I hate advertising, and I hate product placement. This was the most blatant example I've heard yet on NPR.
I now have absolutely no memory of this event.
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  #37  
Old 04-30-2012, 09:12 PM
Emtar KronJonDerSohn Emtar KronJonDerSohn is offline
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I understand they need funds, but what I hate is that for an entire week they talk constantly about how they're in a modern streamlined pledge drive and they're only going to beg you for money one hour a day for three days!

I just keep them as a preset when I'm channel surfing, and get the shows I really care about on podcast.
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  #38  
Old 05-01-2012, 09:39 AM
postcards postcards is offline
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Originally Posted by Subway Prophet View Post
...As far as business models go, I've never understood the logic in holding your audience hostage like this...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltire View Post
...I don't know the averages for NPR, but PBS stations tend to pledge for 3 to 4 percent of their broadcast time. Commercial TV tends to run ads for 26 percent of every hour.
This. Commercial radio 'holds you hostage' every ten minutes or so. Public radio, three times a year.

I gave up commercial radio years ago. And where I live (NYC metro) there are enough public radio stations in the area that they stagger their drives during the year, so it's easy to find one that's not begging when one gets too annoying.
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  #39  
Old 05-01-2012, 09:53 AM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Originally Posted by postcards View Post
This. Commercial radio 'holds you hostage' every ten minutes or so. Public radio, three times a year.

I gave up commercial radio years ago. And where I live (NYC metro) there are enough public radio stations in the area that they stagger their drives during the year, so it's easy to find one that's not begging when one gets too annoying.
We only have two, an NPR affiliate and a classical station. They do their fund raising at the same time, but the NPR station has Two Jewish Guys.
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  #40  
Old 05-01-2012, 11:25 AM
jonesj2205 jonesj2205 is offline
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Originally Posted by taxi78cab View Post
More of the NPR affiliates need to talk to the folks at WAMC in Albany, NY. The fund drive is actually MORE fun than their usual programming, and I'm guessing in no small part because of this, it's over within a week, usually 5-6 days. I believe they do this 3 times a year.

No, it's not as large a station as some of the others, but that also means the number of listeners and donors is similarly smaller. And yet they still do it that quickly. I miss them.

(Yeah, I know some people hate the head guy at WAMC - I'm not leaving out his name to protect his privacy or anything... I just can't spell it - but you have to admit that he's a heck of a lot more effective at this stuff than most people.)
His name is Alan Chartock.
According to this in their June 2010 fund drive they raised $800,000 in seven days.
Hunting around a little more they conduct three fund drives a year, in February of this year they raised $1,001,835 from 8,674 pledgers in 11 days.
I believe they basically keep the fund drive going until they reach the goal and then it's done.
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  #41  
Old 05-01-2012, 02:48 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 20,803
I used to donate to the PBS TV station here. However, I quit doing that when they started calling me on the phone, and would NOT quit calling me, no matter how often I asked them to cut it out. It seems that they have a right to call me if I donate, and that they WILL call me if I donate.

So I don't donate any more.
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