PubTV stations move to pitch sustainer gifts during pledge

Public TV stations looking to reduce their reliance on transactional fundraising will get more assistance from PBS this summer, when for the first time pitch breaks for its pledge specials will include messages inviting viewers to join as sustaining members — providing donations that arrive every month with no end date, although in smaller amounts than a Doo Wop show might inspire. While a steady flow of contributions from a donor’s credit card sounds like a great idea in principle, it’s challenging for many local stations to adjust to this new method of charitable giving. Instead of receiving cash infusions at pledge time and dealing with fulfillment of high-dollar premiums, they have to change the language they use in asking viewers to support their service throughout the year and develop new systems for tracking credit-card expiration dates. But the biggest hurdle, according to fundraising specialists, is adjusting for the change in their cash flow when membership contributions come through monthly donations of $10 to $15, rather than much higher gifts tied to premium offers. Veteran fundraisers say the effort pays off over the long haul: “Sustainers,” as this increasingly commonplace breed of member is called, renew at higher rates than those responding to traditional pledge pitches, and their monthly gifts help to even out the roller-coaster financial cycles of on-air fundraising.

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Live from Boston: A marathon of coverage

Edgar B. Herwick III, a features reporter for WGBH, was enjoying his field assignment on that cool, sunny Monday, interviewing runners as they triumphantly crossed the finish line of the April 15 Boston Marathon.

WGBH’s Greater Boston goes nationwide on World Channel with bombing coverage

Tonight's special edition of Greater Boston from WGBH, focused on the shocking bomb blasts at Monday's Boston Marathon, will be distributed nationally on the World Channel, the public TV multicast service produced by WGBH and distributed by American Public Television. WGBH spokesman Michael Raia told Current the 30-minute show will extend to an hour and begin airing at 9 p.m. Eastern time on World. In Boston, the show will be broadcast on WGBH's primary TV station at 7 p.m., its regular timeslot. Planned guests include terrorism expert Jim Walsh, a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Security Studies Program; Jarrett Barrios of the Red Cross, who took part in the race; and Haider Javed Warraich, a resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who wrote an op-ed in today’s New York Times about his experience growing up amid explosions in Pakistan. WGBH staffers producing segments for the Greater Boston special include host and executive editor Emily Rooney, who lives three blocks from the explosion site and will provide a first-hand perspective on the still-unfolding story; Jared Bowen, who is covering the law enforcement investigation; and Adam Reilly, reporting from Logan Airport with reactions from runners.

WGBH’s Accessible Media center waives theater captioning fees

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) at WGBH in Boston is permanently waiving license fees for its patented movie-theater captioning system, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its work to improve media for users with disabilities. Larry Goldberg, WGBH’s director of media access and head of NCAM, told Current that most theaters have made a one-time payment of around $2,000 for the license. The center hopes the waiver will encourage more theaters to offer Rear Window Captioning, one of several systems available for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. More than 400 theaters nationwide have installed the technology since it was first available in 1996, WGBH said in a statement. To use Rear Window, viewers look into clear panels in front of their seats that reflect a large LED screen on the theater’s back wall displaying captions in mirror image.

WGBH’s Jared Bowen receives Commonwealth Award

WGBH News’ Jared Bowen received the Commonwealth Award recognizing “exceptional achievement in the arts, humanities and sciences.”

Bowen is an Emmy-winning reporter with WGBH-TV’s Greater Boston with Emily Rooney; host of the weekly TV show Open Studio with Jared Bowen; and a regular contributor to Morning Edition and WGBH’s Boston Public Radio. “Jared’s coverage takes him from breaking news to politics to arts and culture. In his cornerstone arts reporting, Jared covers the latest in the Boston area’s theater, art, music, dance and film scenes,” the Massachusetts Cultural Council stated in its awards announcement. “I'm beyond astonished and grateful to receive the Commonwealth Award,” Bowen said. “The fact of the matter is I simply love my work.