Channeling ire over NPR fundraising

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That brouhaha over a proposed NPR pledge drive? It’s based on outdated assumptions about the potential for pubradio growth, according to marketing consultant John Sutton. “The industry is losing money each year by not allowing NPR to raise money directly from listeners,” he writes emphatically on RadioSutton. “We know from past research that listeners to two stations will support both stations and give average or above average gifts. They have room in their budgets to do both. Even now. Even in this economy….The issue here shouldn’t be whether or not NPR should be allowed to raise money directly from listeners. The issue should be how NPR and stations can work together to grow the revenue pie with stations and NPR making appeals.” Meanwhile, over at Fried Bagels, WEOS general manager Aaron Read channels the anger of station execs by comparing NPR to A.I.G., the failed financial company that’s come to symbolize the excesses of Wall Street. “NPR took our money (affiliate fees) and promised us that all their ridiculous amounts of growth (multiple foreign bureaus, NPR West facility, new NPR HQ building, Day to Day, Bryant Park Project, News & Notes, etc) would be good for all affiliate stations and was necessary to do. And we had to do it because the consequences were too big a downside to risk not doing it.” The analogy is imperfect, Read acknowledges, but “on a visceral level, that’s what people are thinking…and thus the parallels are very strong.”