Benefits to multicasting pledge: new and lapsed donors respond

After 16 months on the air, WQED-TV’s all-pledge multicast Showcase channel is steadily bringing in donations of around $16,000 a month for the Pittsburgh station. That may not sound that impressive, considering WQED receives an average of $16,675 from airing just one day of pledge programming on its primary broadcast signal. But WQED officials say the revenues, and the benefits, are adding up.

Few ‘Magic Moments’ in March pledge

Pledge results reported by public TV stations from recently concluded on-air fundraisers were down 20 percent to 25 percent from the March 2012 drive, according to Kristen Kuebler, director of station research for Arizona-based TRAC Media. For most stations, the March fund drive is typically the biggest of the year, and revenues generated from it influence budgeting for the next fiscal year. Stations reported to TRAC and PBS that audience response to the latest pledge shows was tepid at best. The top-performing show among TRAC’s client stations was Magic Moments: The Best of ’50s Pop, a program that was first released for public TV broadcasts in 2005. It brought in 8 percent of all pledges, below their strongest show from the March 2012 drive: a self-help special from motivational speaker Wayne Dyer, Wishes Fulfilled, that generated 11 percent of total dollars raised by TRAC stations.

Health coaches in Pledge Pipeline

Pledge Pipeline 2012-13

Current’s Pledge Pipeline previews 17 shows heading to public TV on-air membership drives in December 2012 and March 2013.

Extolling public TV’s mission with an edge


I love standing on a stage — especially in the American heartland — and saying to 500 public television supporters, “Fear is for people who don’t get out much. When we travel, we get out. And, in the same way, when we watch public television, we get out.”

There’s a lot of fear being pushed in our society these days, and as I see it, the flip side of fear is understanding. And, like travel, public television promotes understanding. As much as I love to talk about Europe and the value of a journey that takes you outside your comfort zone, I also love to talk about the mission of public TV to challenge us with new ideas — especially if they get us out of our comfort zones.