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The Locked Box, The Fund Drive And All Of Us

On June 1, all of us in the WAMC family will commence our spring-summer fund drive.  You have got to realize that you are just as big a part of this event as the WAMC staff is. The last fund drive was quite a miracle. In about four days, we (and I mean “we” as in all of us) raised a million dollars because we all understood that the way to make everything go faster was to feed the locked box before the fund drive.  It turns out that the locked box is the best thing to happen since sliced bread. It’s there for just one reason – to hold money in reserve for the fund drive. Every penny that is in that box comes from people like you. Some give because they want to make the drive go faster. Some are truly worried about the physical and mental health of the staff as they approach yet another Herculean effort. Some just love the contest. They are fascinated by the effort of our community to make something happen that no one has ever done before.

Let’s face it; none of this would be happening if it weren’t for you. Without each WAMCer making a decision of conscience, the miracle of the November drive just wouldn’t have happened. We see newspapers and radio stations and public TV stations downsizing and even going out of business. There is, however, something so unique about WAMC that we have never seen failure or even considered failure as an option. With that said, three or four years ago when bad things were happening all around, our own situation got tough. We took some steps to make the station as tight and productive as it could be. There were short-lived furloughs, a few people left and their responsibilities were divvied up among all of us who remained.  We looked at each other and said that this could never happen again. As a result of what each of you has done, we are in a much healthier place today.

Now we are getting ready for another fund drive. Spring has sprung. Flowers are emerging from the ground. We are basking in a sunlight that many of us thought would never come again and we are grateful that our faithful listeners are with us as never before. We know that because the number of people who tune into the radio station is growing. We know because the last fund drive went so well. We know it because so many of you write and call and tell us what the radio station means to you.

Back in 1979 when it looked like the station was cooked, we learned that if you just made the case, people would get it and do their share. Now we face the next round. We hope that two things will happen to make us whole. The first is that we exceed the record breaking locked box collection of the last time. Some will donate in memory of Pete Seeger.  Some will say, “This is fun, we can do it.” Some will think about what they get every day from the station, from The Roundtable to All Things Considered to the Tanglewood concerts. Listeners will acknowledge the guts and independence that the station shows when it comes to speaking truth to power and giving every voice a chance.

The second, of course, is a challenge. To the folks who have a little more and who can issue a challenge that will encourage others to give, we say please. Challenges work. You have heard it happen time and again. Everyone gets excited and things move faster. If you want to join the folks who do this we ask that you consider a challenge gift, no matter how much that is.

As I have always said, we’re all in this together. Volunteer, give, get others to give. Or as Gladys’ father used to say to her, “Just do it.” We love you all. 

Dr. Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the University at Albany. He hosts the weekly Capitol Connection series, heard on public radio stations around New York. The program, for almost 12 years, highlighted interviews with Governor Mario Cuomo and now continues with conversations with state political leaders. Dr. Chartock also appears each week on The Media Project and The Roundtable and offers commentary on Morning Edition, weekdays at 7:40 a.m.