Sunday, March 21, 2004

Pledge Week

Darn, it's Pledge Week on our local public radio station! The programs I love are now 50% replaced by demands for money!

I gave once, a few years ago, when they were offering opera tickets and the pledge amount was less than the retail cost of the tickets. We had a great time and took our friends to the opera. But I never had given before, and unless they offer us more opera tickets, won't give again. My tax dollars go to support public radio, so I guess you could say I "gave at the office".

I, for one, don't believe all the crap about how they need donations because they don't have commercials. They do too have commercials; haven't you heard their little spiels for ADM and Lou C. Kerr and all the other major donors? That's a paid advertisement. They can pretend all they want that they are just saying corporate slogans in gratitude for donations, but last time I looked, the definition of "paid radio advertising" was "money given in exchange for airtime for a message", even if it's an outrageous amount of money given in exchange for a tiny amount of airtime. And several times a year, they spend an entire week broadcasting hardly anything but requests for donations and publicly thanking those who donate. If they choose to distribute their paid advertising time into little 10-second soundbites and entire-week periods, that is their business-- but it's still paid advertising, even if they don't do it every ten minutes.

Like I said, they can pretend all they want that the money is given without strings and that these daily mentions are just an expression of their gratitude, but I for one don't "buy" it. The money I get paid up at the university is technically an "honorarium" which basically means a gift given to me because I gave my services to the university, but let's not pretend here; there's no way in hell I'd be teaching a class there if they weren't going to pay me. They can call it an honorarium, they can call it a "toothbrush" for all I care; but both parties are aware that it's a flat fee for the semester's worth of teaching, and neither would hold up their part of the deal if the other were not forthcoming. Likewise with public radio advertising. They wouldn't even mention my name on the radio for less than $365, and I for one wouldn't give them hundreds of thousands of dollars if I weren't going to get some sort of broadcast exposure in exchange.

So don't be a sucker and give away your hard-earned money to an organization that (a) already has some of your money and (b) will give you only a cheap T-shirt or coffee mug that you wouldn't dream of buying at that price.