Alan Chartock: Message from The President | WAMC

Alan Chartock: Message from The President

WAMC President and CEO Alan Chartock shares his thoughts in this monthly column.

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. For almost twelve years the program 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 on WAMC and offers commentary on other WAMC programs such as Midday Magazine.

Oh brother! Oh sister!

Here comes the fund drive. We did amazingly well in run-up to the drive but now we all have to show our stuff. A lot of people put money into the locked box -- some because they want more regular programming and less on-air fund raising and some because they will be out of town.


May 1, 2015

In the first week in June, we will resume the business of trying to keep our station alive. Ray and I will hit the microphones at 6 in the morning and each and every person will make a personal decision of principle and conscience. Each of us will decide what it is that we treasure about our radio station. There will be those who say, “Let someone else do it” and there will be thousands who recognize that they truly care for the station and what it stands for: free speech, freedom of opinion, courage, empathy, understanding and sharing. Some people will look for reasons not to give, even though it is clear from their letters and communications that they are listening all the time. 

It's A Dog's Life

Apr 1, 2015

I was talking to Murray, the world’s cutest and brightest dog.  As you know, he was taught to speak English early on. It’s amazing. The dog knows so much that I’ve been trying to convince Joe Donahue to let him have my spot on the first hour of The Roundtable every once in a while.

One For The Books

Feb 26, 2015

Here we are, just a few short weeks after the historic WAMC fund drive. Between the locked box that raised half of the money before the on-air drive started and three and a half days of actual fund drive, we ended up with a million dollars in the bank.

It Is Always You

Jan 29, 2015

I recently met someone who told me that she knew I am not really as nervous as I say I am about the upcoming February 2nd fund drive. I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve done about a hundred fund drives and I worry before each and every one of them. I lose sleep; I break out into inexplicable sweats; I have nightmares. It is always up to my Roselle to remind me how people love the station, how much they depend on it and how they would never let it fail. You know that nightmare we have about the exam in the college class we never even knew we were registered for? This one is that we have a fund drive and the phones don’t ring and the on-line pledges don’t come in. Roselle always puts her hand on my neck and assures me that everything is going to be fine. And, of course, she has always been right.

Here are my fearless predictions for the coming year. Remember the rules. These can be things that I don’t want to see happen and so I hope to put the whammy on them by predicting them. They can also be things that I do want to happen, so I predict them in order to help make them happen. Then, there are those predictions that I really do think will happen. I leave it to you, dear readers, to figure out which is which.

End Of Year Tax Time

Dec 1, 2014

Toward the end of every year, we all seem to receive a slew of solicitation letters. Let’s not kid ourselves. People wait until the last minute to decide where to send their tax-deductible contributions. They have a great many choices. There are genuine charities that really deserve their money. There are churches and synagogues, temples and mosques. There are environmental organizations and educational institutions, hospitals and more. And then, dear friends, there are the WAMC stations. If you don’t use the radio station, perhaps this is a time to tune out. But if you do, let’s deal with the reality of what, as a communal group, we are up against.

One of the best things on WAMC is the first hour of The Roundtable, every weekday morning between nine and ten.

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.

At the beginning of October comes the next fund drive. Before you groan, please try to remember how much these drives mean to the continuation of the station that you listen to and depend on.  Sooner or later, someone has to pay the piper. The only way that we can be sure that WAMC remains in its present form – with the freedom to say what we want, preserve balance, and operate as we have been doing -  is for each person to do what they can. When that happens, when everyone pitches in, the station flourishes. I was recently at Tanglewood and several folks came up to say hello. They proudly announced that they loved the station and were members. Obviously, I thanked them with everything I had in me. That’s because when someone tells me that they understand, I am incredibly, personally and humbly grateful. I know that every day people tune in and often stay tuned in. They often tell me of things that I haven’t heard and I am grateful for that, too.

If there’s one thing I know about our WAMC listeners, it’s that you’re there for us when we need you.  Over 30 years worth of fund drives have proven that.  You know that when we ask, it’s because we truly can’t do it without you.  Sometimes we find people who really love the station and can afford to do more, and such is the case now.

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.

The Roundtable Panel

Mar 28, 2014

The first hour of The Roundtable has proven to be a great success. Host Joe Donahue and I have received many compliments about the way in which the program is conducted.  Listeners recognize the obvious love and respect that exists among the panelist and new heroes and heroines have emerged.

Everywhere I go, people are congratulating the radio station for, by far, the fastest million dollar fund drive in history. I always try to make the point that it is not the WAMC staff and board that deserve the kudos but all of you who made it happen. The amount of money that came in before the drive even started was astounding. A few weeks out we had about $300,000 in the magic locked (or lox or lock) box. We announced that number on the air and within days, we had $417,000 in the box. Every penny that came in before the drive that was marked for the box was accounted for and added to the total and used to shorten the drive.

Into The Fray

Jan 31, 2014

The fund drive is upon us. As I write this, there is over $350,000 in the Locked (Lock or Lox) Box. That is incredible. What a crew!  What a community! The truth is that we have all made this radio station what it is. So when we have a fund drive it is a festival. In each society there are celebrations that bring a community together. Many of you took an anthropology course or belong to a social or spiritual group in which the interdependency of everyone in the group is emphasized. No one has to talk anyone else into anything -- people do what they need to because it's the right thing to do.  They give what they can.  Think about any community gathering.  Some people bring cakes and cookies. Others make a plate of chicken or meatballs or tuna noodle casserole and there are always those who say, “I have a little more so let me help pay for all of this.” That’s the way the Fire Island community was when I was a kid. Every year, someone among the Island’s literati would write a song about things that had happened during the year.

Fearless 2014 Predictions

Dec 31, 2013

Here are my fearless predictions for the coming year at WAMC. Let’s remember the rules. Some of these predictions are based on things I do NOT want to see happen, so I predict them to put the whammy on them. Others I want to see happen so I predict them to make them happen. Then there are things I actually want to see happen. Any inspection of past events will show just how accurate I have been in that department. So here goes.