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KBOO interviews me.

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Newsies Lisa Loving and Annette Newell talk with me about my book, PLEDGE: The Public Radio Fund Drive during an episode of KBOO’s “News from the Boo.” It was the fastest 9 minutes ever.  Find it here: https://www.kboo.fm/media/74561-pledge-book

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July 29, 2019 at 06:57

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(Overcoming) The Fear

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Whenever I see or hear of someone that inspires me with what they’ve done, it reminds me of how scary it can be to put yourself out there. I’ve been feeling that especially as my book filters it way out to more people. I found somebody else who gets exactly how I’ve been feeling recently. It’s a part of a blogpost by Carol Lynch Williams on her blog, “Throwing up Words.” It was republished by Chris Crowe on his blog, “Writing is an Act of Faith.”

“It is an act of faith to plop down in a chair—on a good, bad, or indifferent day—and to face the blank page or computer screen with a subconscious voice drowning out all your thoughts and inspiration with head-splitting shrieks of high expectations, self-criticism and self-doubt. To put that first letter on the great unknown of the blank page is an act of faith comparable to anything the boldest dreamers and explorers have done: to go boldly where no one has gone before. Faith is what turns that first letter into the first word, the first word into the first sentence, the first sentence into the first paragraph, the first paragraph into the first page. Moving that pen or striking that keyboard is like planting a tiny mustard seed with the hope, the faith, that it will, eventually, with time and effort, turn into something much grander than the original speck of organic material.

It is an audacious act of faith to keep stringing words and sentences together for an extended period of time, hoping that with enough effort, they will eventually add up to a book that is much greater than the sum of its parts. You hope that, even in the face of self-doubt, rejection, and failure, your faith will give you the courage to write that first letter, to plant a tiny speck on the blank page and to hope, no, to know, that if you keep going, sooner or later it will begin to add up to something. It’s a leap of faith, really, but you have learned that if you take that leap into the great blank unknown, you can write. Believe it or not, you can write. Really, you can write.”

Yeah, that about sums it up.

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July 22, 2019 at 03:51

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Branding Music for PLEDGEtheBook

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I comissioned two pieces of music to coincide with the book’s release. I’ll be including them in marketing pieces for the book later in the month. The composers and I worked hard to find that public radio feel. I think we got it.

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July 9, 2019 at 06:45

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PLEDGE is ready for Capitalism

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To paraphrase Ira Glass, the PLEDGE website wants to offer a little swag of its own.  After years of being steeped in the public radio pledge drive, I realized that one of its most annoying aspects is the overwhelming emphasis on sustainers to the not so subtle exclusion of everyone who isn’t a sustainer.  I talk about it at length in the book.

So I’ve created a suite of teez that address that exclusivity.  Bless the sustainers; the princes and princesses of public radio.  But they aren’t the only ones in the Kingdom.  These eight shirts look at public radio’s devotion to sustainers from the perspective of people who might not have their resources but still love public radio and give as they can.

P.S. And please visit the website at https://lnkd.in/giyyHxP and sign up for emails and information about the publication date for PLEDGE. 

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January 3, 2019 at 14:14

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PLEDGE The Book Excerpt: Kumbaya

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Owners, or the people running a place, can have a big effect on its character, or the feel of the place they’re running. Many times, that comes down to the relationship between employees and supervisors, or management and the board. Public radio is no different. But public radio listeners probably don’t put public radio stations and say, unions together in their minds much since, because public radio is so cerebral, reasonable, progressive and intelligent, why they might wonder, would there ever be any need for anything so impersonal as labor agreements. Everybody is always moving in the same direction, aren’t they? Not according to this 2014 statement from the WYPR Organizing Committee in response to station management efforts to kill a union vote.  “In These Times” writer Bruce Vail reported on the issue.  “We are disheartened by management’s decision to spend significant station resources to undermine our democratic effort. We hope they will commit as fully to making measurable improvements to the workplace and supporting the production staff.”

An author conducted survey of people in and associated with public radio found that nearly 40% of public radio stations are unionized. A little more than one in three are not. And 25% of respondents didn’t know either way.  For a lot of listeners, that might be a surprise. But staff in stations, like miners, teachers, pilots, nurses and longshoremen tend to unionize after labor disputes make them see that management doesn’t always work in their best interests. That’s not good for pledge drives, since strikes tell listeners all is not well in public radioland. And development officers like their givers copacetic. Labor unrest can have secondary effects on station character and ownership that goes way beyond whose name is on the building. The work can suffer. Morale can plummet and old, familiar voices can vanish without so much as a whisper in the thick of palace intrigue.

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May 5, 2018 at 05:02

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PLEDGE Excerpt: It’s pledging season!

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Defenders of drives often say people continue to listen even though they don’t like drives. But there is plenty of support for the idea that drives actually push listeners away.  While the networks don’t host pledge drives, they pull out all of the stops to support them, ranging from playing up how they can be hilariously fun times to sicking network luminaries like Ira Glass on non-givers.  And though goodies haven’t been conclusively proved to spur giving, because there can be so many pledge drives in any give year, and because when stations ask their asks, they may encounter donors suffering from donor fatigue, they continue to sweeten pots with giveaways .

They do it by stirring up friendly competition with matches and challenge grants in which some members of the community practically dare other members of the community to give as much as they’ve given for the cause. Or, pitchers do it with swag, also known as “premiums”, aka concert seats, wine tastings, wireless speakers, iPads and plane tickets. In other words, promotional items given in exchange for “valuable consideration” like an underwriting credit, or maybe, a bunch of underwriting credits.  This is what academia calls, “transactional giving” and stations don’t like it very much because the idea that someone only gives when they get implies they aren’t really committed to the “cause” of public radio.

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May 4, 2018 at 11:37

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PLEDGE Excerpt” Anger Translation

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Pitchers are quick to say that the drive will be noticeably shorter if givers give a lot, quickly and often. But one of the oldest complaints listeners have against pledge drives is that even after they’ve done as they’re asked, the drive continues because so many others have not. “Pledge-driving me nuts” was what Sarah Bunting titled her blog post at Tomatonation.com in 2007. While lost in an enjoyable interview from her beloved WNYC, a pitcher interrupted to, she says, “tell me some shit about how everyone listening to him right now who doesn’t cough up some money is basically going to hell, like, 1) don’t mess up the flow of a perfectly good segment, and 2) I GAVE YOU THE MONEY ALREADY.” (28) Kelly Williams Brown, writing for the Daily Beast in 2014, talked to Paul Maassen, General Manager of WWNO in New Orleans. She asked, “whether there would be a time when those of us who are already members could magically skip the membership drive; it does feel unfair that those of us that dutifully pony up our $12.50 a month have to suffer with all the shirkers.”

Near the top of the hour of a 2015 pitch break, in this comparison between a cold virus and some of station KCLU’s listeners, news director Lance Orozco sneezed, and then said he was “allergic to slackers.” He was obviously talking to people who had not yet contributed to the station. Should pitchers and the managers that support them get the occasional pass to be outright mean considering how often they are attacked with outright meanness? Who knows? But public radio stations are staffed with people who love and believe in what they do. Occasionally, they hit back whether they should or not.

 

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May 3, 2018 at 06:51

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