Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

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.

Written by Interviewer

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.

 

Written by Interviewer

May 3, 2018 at 06:51

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Pledge Excerpt: Callsign Mysteries

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Pledge Survey Image

It’s probably iconic that many kids in the 50s, 60s and 70s grew up listening to faraway AM stations on junk pieces fished out of trash cans in neighborhoods from coast to coast. From their beds, WLW, “The Nation Station”, WABC in New York, WLS in Chicago and others callsigns were their targets long after parents were asleep. The walls of their bedrooms, illuminated by the yellowish-orange glow of glass amplifier tubes. And spinning the dial, they were probably mesmerized by the rattling off of various callsigns which could sound like incantations, spoken by strange staticy tongues from exotic locales.

Those who paid closer attention might’ve noticed that stations west of the Mississippi started with “K” while stations east of the Mississippi started with “W”. Eventually, some of those kids might’ve eventually gone to work for civilian or even military broadcasting. And their voice became the one ricocheting around the planet. But callsigns are far from being romantic mysteries of youth.  To read more about callsigns or public radio, visit http://pledgethebook.com and get on the pre-order list for PLEDGE: The Public Radio Fund Drive.

Written by Interviewer

May 2, 2018 at 15:07

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Protected: PLEDGE: The Downside of Data

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Written by Interviewer

March 22, 2018 at 06:02

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Pledge Free Streaming

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Stream

Quick, if you could listen to music versus music but with a lot of unrelated talking mixed in, which would you choose?

For listeners to public radio pledge drives, pledge free streaming makes the answer an obvious one.  The technology, first introduced in 2011, gives paying listeners the choice to link their device to a code that is activated when they contribute.  And for the length of the drive or until the next one, they listen without pledge pitches.

Simple.  Elegant.

But for stations, it’s a different question; If I have to choose between a pledge drive which has worked raising money for the last 40 years versus a technology that has only been around for seven years, which makes more business sense?  Pledge free streaming has the potential to not only eliminate drives that a large percentage of listeners have made clear they hate.  It also has the potential to raise tons of money in the spirit of something akin to a Netflix subscription.

The technology, though, also might diminish the one-on-one stations have with listeners at pledge drive time.  The personal testimonies, the challenge grants, the giveaways.  How would all of those other streams be affected if algorithms for payment and listening take over?

It’s a question I address in my upcoming book, PLEDGE: The Public Radio Fund Drive.  But for now,  here’s a funny example of a pledge free stream concept, produced by Noah Madrano for @Sub Human Intellectual Theater @KBOO with graphics by my book’s cover designer, Karen Green.
https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Written by Interviewer

February 28, 2018 at 06:23

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Protected: PLEDGE Excerpt – Introduction

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February 25, 2018 at 15:03

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Error in Fact

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Rainbows and Unicorns

Forbes said in a 2013 article that as of then, a million or more books were published in the U.S.  OK, except a New York Times article said that as of 2002, only 80,000 were published in the U.S.  OK, except I can’t believe the number of published books has jumped by 920,000 in 10 years.  I mean, Amazon is powerful but it’s not THAT powerful.  Especially with all of the dour talk about declining book sales, the introduction of Kindles way back when and the disappearance of Joseph Beth and Little Professor’s along the way.

But this isn’t about bookstores.  It’s about credibility of reporting.  Neither article cites its sources for its numbers.  Maybe because it’s Forbes and the Times, both editors felt company names speak for themselves then and now.  But as I work on my own book; a book I’ve sweated and cursed and exhausted myself over for the last three years, I wonder will people trust my research considering these plain and simple examples of journalistic inconsistency from those at much higher levels than me?

Like, when a well known writer for a well known media outlet told me by email that they didn’t know if a fact I quoted from a piece they’d written was correct.  Excuse me?  They didn’t say they couldn’t remember.  They didn’t say the facts had changed.  They said they didn’t know.  And as gingerly as I could, I prodded to know if they knew that as they were writing, or did they come to know it over time?  And either way, why would they put it in their piece or not offer a correction?

I have busted my ass to make this, my first book, to be as good as I can make it.  It may not be as good as I hope my writing will eventually be.  But I’ve been a reporter for a long time. I know how to research.  And I expect I also know how to tell the truth and how to feel like crap if I even suspect that I haven’t.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2013/11/05/how-to-market-and-sell-your-book-in-five-steps/#6d26093d46d5

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/28/opinion/think-you-have-a-book-in-you-think-again.html,

Image from meriahnichols.com

Written by Interviewer

February 14, 2018 at 02:54

Posted in Scratchpad