We put three questions up for a vote in the latest round of our reader-powered reporting project, Currently Curious. The question that pulled in the most votes from our readers was: Why don’t all public broadcasters coordinate on a national pledge drive?
The question was submitted by Tom Hungate, PD for television at Northwest Public Broadcasting in Pullman, Wash. Hungate said his idea grew from his more than 25 years in public broadcasting, working in promotion, production, development and membership.
A national pledge drive that included both public radio and TV stations could promote why public broadcasting is different from commercial broadcasting, Hungate said. The message: Public broadcasters share a mission to produce and present great programs that meet audience needs and are delivered in a noncommercial manner, and all seek listener and viewer support.
Hungate compared the idea to Jerry Lewis’ telethons for muscular dystrophy, held annually on Labor Day weekend for 40 years. The variety shows included song and dance, testimonials and video vignettes of people affected by muscular dystrophy. A timpani rumbled as a tote board’s numbers flipped to the amount raised.
“That’s old-school stuff, but the idea was a coordinated effort,” Hungate said.
Hungate said he’s not sure how it would all work, though. Public broadcasters have coordinated on fundraisers for major disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina. Stations with access to joint master controls might have an easier time working together, Hungate said. Perhaps CPB could cover any shared national expenses that arise in the beginning, he said. It would be key to win widespread buy-in and agreement on a day or multiple days.
“If nothing else, it’ll be interesting to think about how we all share this vision and desire to do good things,” Hungate said.
To answer Hungate’s question, we’ll look into whether such a fundraiser has been discussed — and if not, why not? What do you think of Hungate’s idea? Let us know in the comments below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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