This is the time of year when many National Public Radio member stations interrupt regularly scheduled programs in order to appeal to their listeners to phone in and donate. This is because a major funding source for public (non-commercial) broadcasters is the listeners themselves, as in the phrase, “Listener-Supported Radio.” The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) specifically prohibits public licensees from airing commercials advocating buying products or services or stating an advocacy position on an issue or a candidate. This policy limits the potential revenue stream that is available to commercial stations from their advertisers.
So listeners hear myriad reasons to “pick up the phone and call ___-____” to support their station of choice. And the audience provide many justifications for their charity. In-depth news coverage, no commercials, insightful commentary, classical music, the slew of NPR entertainment…all valid reasons toward the support of public radio.
My reason differs. I support my favorite NPR station, 90.5FM WCBE, Columbus, Ohio, because of the community of listeners that it rallys. The audience of WCBE truly connects with the source of the waves at frequency 90.5FM. Example… the volunteer effort. Hundreds of WCBE listeners turn out in direct support of the twice-annual on-air fund-raising drives by answering phone calls from the audience who respond to pleas to pledge their donation, become a member of WCBE, or to renew their annual membership. And Columbus restaurants, many of them members of Dine Originals Columbus, donate scores of meals, lunches & dinners, to feed the volunteers and staff during this period of fund-raising frenzy. This activity is another testimonial to the local community spirit that pervades Columbus, specifically among our tribe of public radio members.
For this reason, I ask you to go on-line to the 90.5FM WCBE website and donate what you deem reasonable to keep this great station on the air…to help listeners continue to hear great radio, as rare as it has become.