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Failure Is Not An Option

We are about to embark on one of the most telling fund drives of all. The truth is that we are only as good as our last fund drive.  We have to raise a million dollars. Some of this money is already in the locked box and we are grateful for everyone who has already done something. There is a relatively tiny bit of money in our First Amendment Fund to be used at the discretion of the Board of Trustees if someone or something threatens our right to do our job. But otherwise, we live from fund drive to fund drive. Failure, of course, is not an option.

People stop me in the street in increasing numbers, thanking me for what I have done to help create this enterprise. I tell them that they are the ones to be thanked because while it may sound trite, we are all in this together. Trust me, that belief is humble and heartfelt.  From those first days in 1979, we as a community decided that we would build not just a station but a great station. The whole premise is that if everyone who listens were to put something, anything, into the collective pot, there would be no question of making it. For all of you who have done so much because you recognize how tight things are, we say thank you. When you meet someone who doesn’t contribute, I ask that you become an ambassador for the station. It’s not easy to do, but when you hear someone at a cocktail party or at the general store say something like, “I heard this on NPR…..” could you say, “Oh, great, so you’re a member too.” We’ve recently learned from the Nielsen folks that in the spring of 2014 eRanks in diary-based markets only, WAMC has the most people who are listening for the longest amount of time.

Many folks don’t really understand that WAMC pays NPR a lot – and I do mean a lot -- of money to provide the two flagship programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Plus we have to put up and maintain the towers, pay the massive electric bills, and give the wonderful people on our staff a living wage. It is clear how many people depend on the station on a daily basis. I have always loved the folks who understand what this is all about; the ones who really get it.  Some of you listen to the full fund drive, seldom deviating because we are all as one. Recently our wonderful underwriting chief, Stefanie Abel, told me that many of our underwriters had asked that their underwriting be read during the live fund drive because of their allegiance to the station and, I suspect, because they intuitively know how many people tune into the fund drive and never tune out. If I haven’t told you this before, let me reiterate:  I love our underwriters. We depend on them in the same way we depend on you. They are crucial and so are you. That’s what a community is all about.

So when we go on the air at 6 in the morning on October 6th, I just want you to imagine that you are sitting there with Ray Graf and me. We all have fun. We celebrate what we have all built together. We tell the stories, read the comments, listen to Pete and Johnny Cash and marvel at what has happened to the little radio station that almost died back in 1979 but survived because you or your relatives or the people who lived in your house before you did blew life into it. We love you and we trust you and we know that we can count on you.

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.