Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Since I spend time in both Suburban Philadelphia and Eastern North Carolina, I'm subjected to more than my share of public radio and TV pledge drives. An NPR pledge drive is currently underway, incessantly.

Let me say that a public radio pledge drive is one of the most annoying and exasperating experiences of modern life. The pushy and pleading requests for support interrupt favorite programs and grate on the ear. Also, my guess is that the annoyance of the listener must be matched by the frustration of those doing the pleading. It is so demeaning for those people who are trying to pursue careers in radio to spend day after day begging for money.

There must be a better way. Smarter people than I can perhaps find a solution. My first thought is this proposal: charge a modest amount to receive the public radio broadcasts, say, $25 per year (possibly exempting those who can show inability to pay). I hope that the listener base is such that this will raise a high percentage of the sums raised in the drives. Then, more funds could be obtained by dignified solicitation of larger donors and by suggestions that listeners consider contributing a bit more, perhaps in return for a small incentive gift.

Will this work? I don't know; it may well be too difficult technologically. If we can't get sufficient federal public financing, maybe a small annual charge of about $10 for all homeowners in the listening area would suffice.

What I do know is that the current method is no way to fund a public broadcast service. Let's find a solution.


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