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Sunday, 18 February 2007

Dept. of Begging


Philadelphia: -- Is it just me, or is WHYY-FM's begging (that is, um, fundraising by soliciting bogus 'memberships,' in its parlance) the most annoying thing on commercial radio? Yes, commercial. (When are these 'public' radio stations going stop the sham pretense that they are commercial-free?)

It's not only the two 'hip' whinggers who bug me. You know, the one guy nicknamed 'Rubes,' and the other one who gets a a thrill-a-minute from hearing a glass tinged when a 'pledge' comes over the Internet. Rubes, on cue, responds, 'Coool.' Where did they dig up this duo?

Actually, I know. They're back-room boys at WHHY. They may be part of the janitorial staff, as far as I know. But if my ears don't betray me, I think I've heard their voices in the alledged non-ads that station plays repeatedly.

This brings me to another point. As anyone knows in fundraising, successful money-raising is not accomplished by nickel-and-dime hits, such as the case with on-air alledged, sham membership drives. Big money -- the money that actually drives major-league fundraising -- is raised through corporate, foundation, and individual heavy-hitter giving.

What WHYY (and the others) are doing is public relations. They are creating a 'notion' of participation -- by creating the semblance of wide-spread support --that fuels large donations. In other words, individual 'members' are the suckers who grease the wheels for the station's real, behind-the-scenes fundraising.

By the way, if WHYY and its ilk are always in such dire financial straits, why don't lobby for real public financing. What we need are true, publicly-financed (that is, tax-based) public media, fashioned after the British model.

For now, Rubes and his mate ought to just shut up, or take a pay cut.

For the rest of us, turn to WRTI-FM, which is much kindlier station.

-- Richard Carreño