After a combative online exchange with CPB Ombudsman Joel Kaplan over a perceived conflict of interest between his political aspirations and his role as president of an NPR-affiliated public station, Marshall Miles of WHDD-FM/AM in Sharon, Conn., temporarily resigned from his pubcasting job Oct. 15. Miles, who until last week ran the station that calls itself “Robin Hood Radio,” recently decided to run for a seat on the Region One Board of Education, which oversees a largely rural district in northwestern Connecticut. After local critics complained that Miles’s candidacy conflicted with his work as a pubcasting manager, Kaplan agreed with them in an online column published Oct. 10.
To continue receiving CPB aid, public stations must now certify that they don’t exchange member or donor names with political groups, or sell names to them, or buy names from them. “Our goal is to restore the public’s trust in the work public broadcasting does every day,” said CPB President Bob Coonrod. The new grant rule, issued July 30 , responds to congressional condemnations of the mailing list dealings that apparently involved dozens of public TV and radio stations in recent years. A CPB survey of the 75 largest public TV stations found that 26 had exchanged member or donor lists with political groups and 33 had rented lists from political groups, Coonrod told Congress the week before. Current found that the major stations in the 10 top markets all said they had dealt in swapped or rented lists, though some did it quite infrequently [related story].
After stations’ list practices exploded as a political issue, an organization of public radio fundraisers, the Development Exchange, issued this advice written by the associate director of its Center for Membership Support. Comments
The value of members acquired by mail cannot be disputed. Members acquired by mail have better first-year and multi-year renewal rates than those members acquired by on-air or telemarketing. DEI continues to strongly recommend that stations develop and maintain aggressive direct mail donor acquisition campaigns as part of a balanced fundraising strategy. Despite the recent controversy surrounding list trades, do not stop trading your list.
CPB released these new rules for its grantees on July 30, 1999, after two weeks of controversy prompted by press reports that WGBH and other stations had exchanged mailing lists with the Democratic National Committee and other partisan groups. Related stories in Current: Congress reacts hotly to donor-list swaps and CPB bans list dealings with politicos. I. Principles
A bedrock principle of public broadcasting is our support from the American people. Because we operate in the public interest, our future relies on a bond of public trust. This bond extends to millions of viewers and listeners living in hundreds of local communities of every size and description across the country.