20 October 2005

Heads Up, NPR

The downside to Autumn would, of course, be that it is also pledge drive time at NPR. Technically, at NPR member stations.

I completely understand the need for the pledge drives and I contribute when and how I can. Not as often or as much as I should, but there are lots of good causes that don't get as much as I should give them (just ask Janice, the minister at my church). And I have friends who work for NPR and I think they should be paid their salaries. And I have a big, geeky crush on Scott Simon, so I definitely believe he should get paid. And Les told me that one of his favorite stations failed to meet their budgetary goals often enough and had to sell out. We don't want that to happen.


I hate, hate, hate it when in order to push the guilt button I get called a thief and a mooch. So I have a rule. My standard donation - when I can - to my local NPR station is $20/year, but I deduct a dollar every time I am accused to stealing by tuning in without writing a check. This morning Nina Totenberg used the word "Freeloader" twice in one paragraph - so that's $2 fewer of my dollars going to NPR. Using this system, some years NPR ends up owing me money.

In order to save NPR some badly needed dollars, I often dive for the radio dial as soon as I hear anything that sounds like pledge drive patter (PDP). And I'll return a dollar to the pot if I hear a good argument (like how much it costs to carry the shows I like, or how small a percentage of the operating budget comes from the government).

I really do like the new protection racket approach to the pledge drive - "pay us now and if we get enough money we'll shave a day off of the pledge drive." Sort of "Nice radio station you have here. I'd hate to see anything happen to it." Brilliant. Works for me. I'll leave the cash in a dead tree in the cemetary, but please don't hurt Marketplace.

And I like pledging via the internet during one of my favorite shows, so I often pledge during Car Talk or A Prairie Home Companion. Especially as they make really fun arguments for pledging. And never call me a freeloader.

I may post how much money I ended up sending in this year, but, in the meantime, operators are standing by. Please pledge now.


Sir Dennis said...


One of my frustrations is taking the time to write an eloquent blog and no one responds to it.
So, here goes - I read your blog and I liked it!

Regards... Dennis (Rosellen's husband, Paul's step-dad)

Brett said...

Why should this bother you? When you go to the movies now you get 15 minutes of commercials, then a huge warning not to steal the damn movie with a video camera or you will be shot. When you buy a DVD you get a lecture about not stealing the DVD you just paid cold cash for. When you buy a music CD there is a good chance it will come with built in to prevent you from listening to the music how you want to. Some idiot network exec said people who skip commercials on their VCR or Tivo were thieves. It is quite clear to me that all entertainment providers view the consumer as nothing more than a crook. We are lucky they deign to take our money in the first place. Why should NPR be any different? Really in a fair world we should just pony up and not expect to hear the radio show, they can keep it locked away someplace safe from the ugly mobs of freeloaders out there in prole land.

Brett said...

Not that this sort of junk makes me bitter or anything....

Liza said...

The argument that drives me battiest, which is a subset of the freeloader argument, is the one that goes, "what if you had to put a dollar into your radio to listen every morning?"

Well, judging from how I do with the newspaper, if I had to specifically buy it every day, with exact or close to exact change, I would buy it a lot less. Practically never, in fact.

But much like the newspaper, or cable tv, I would hope that some brilliant marketing mind would think of subscriptions. Then I could buy it once or twice a year and enjoy it all the time.

BUT -- it's public radio. Remember the public part? I'm entitled to listen to it, guilt free, even if I don't contribute. I'm part of the public. Cable TV and the newspaper are different. They're a for-profit venture.

That said, I too contribute to my local NPR member station. I'm a junkie, and I feel morally obligated to support my addiction.

And I even like some of the pitches, like when Ira Glass does a long analysis of an NPR story, articulating why it was a great piece of radio journalism, and weaving in what kinds of costs go into creating that kind of story.

Maureen said...

I bumped up my contribution last year when they talked about how much it cost to outfit Annie Garrells in Baghdad w/ body armor (!), satellite phone, spare parts for same, interpreters' fees, and the like. I always did like her reporting (bought "Naked in Baghdad" because of it), so I didn't mind chipping in to keep her reporting a bit longer. That's the kind of pitch that works on me.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh NPR. I dont get it. It reminds me of WETA and them always begging for money. I am sorry but I have been in the WETA building and can tell you that they do not spend money wisely. Hell they bought abuilding didnt they? I bet NPR is the same.So why give money to people who dont know how to spend it.


Jim A said...

The Washington Post at 35¢/day hardcopy looks pretty good by comparison to $1.00/day. Of course it's pretty difficult to read the paper in the shower. Maybe I could tape it between the inner and outer shower curtain....
--Simon (D-4 and counting)

Brett said...

So why give money to people who dont know how to spend it.


Just curious, do you pay taxes? I am just saying now....

Anonymous said...


I do pay taxes. Dont like giving them money either for the same reason.