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Keep It Going

Here comes the Fund Drive. It’s where we live and I mean where all of us who care about this radio station live. We all know that there can be no WAMC unless we all pull together. My job is to be the guy in the back of the crew boat who yells at the top of his voice, “Pull!” I’m yelling and I’m yelling loudly because I know and you kow that we HAVE to do it.

We invented the ”locked box” to make sure that we wouldn’t have to spend huge amounts of time on the air raising money. It has been a big success. Last time out, we raised over $700,000 in a few short weeks and then had what amounted to a one day (and a few hours) fund drive.

Now, of course, we are in the middle of a debate about the impeached Donald Trump. The people who listen to this radio station depend on us to bring them the news and we have done just that. We aired the House of Representatives impeachment hearings in full and then endeavored to bring as much of the trial in the Senate as possible, despite the fact that the Republicans in control of the upper house did everything in their power to put a damper on public access to information. Indeed, they demanded that a great deal of the process took place late at night and in the wee hours of the morning.

Much of our coverage depends on National Public Radio – we pay them a fortune for this. Most people don’t know that NPR belongs to its member stations and not the other way around, but it costs big time. We are talking about many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Fortunately, however, I have noticed that people, on their own and without prompting, have been sending money to the station to keep it going. This year, because of the exigency of the situation, we have to make absolutely sure that the fund drive will be limited to a single day or even less. I think you know that anything helps, whether it is $5 or $10,000, and we have seen all denominations of money, both large and small, flowing in.

We know that you understand that we will do what we have to do to make our goal. We’ll give you the information that you need to follow all the news which may go a long way toward determining whether we have a democracy after the Trump administration. We really have no idea what will break next, but we have the responsibility to bring it to you. The big BUT, of course, is that we can’t go forward unless we have the basic money to keep the place running. WAMC is incredibly proud of the fact that we have done so much with so little. We know that we have the most wonderful and loyal audience of all. You keep writing that to us. We keep breaking records in our fund drives.

I confess that I love our fund drives. They offer us a chance to get together and share our stories. But considering the gravity of the times in which we live, it really is essential that we move forward as fast as possible. Listeners by the hundreds understand this and are self-motivated to give. Of course, we will tell the stories; the history of the station; how we got started; all the challenges that we have faced and all that we face now.

We do know that challenges work. If someone says, “I’ll give you $10,000 to use as a challenge,” the money comes pouring in. It’s not for everyone but some people can do it and for that we are very grateful.

As I have said so many times, “We are all in this together.”

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.
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