Friday, September 19, 2008
The power of public radio.
I work in public radio, behind the scenes, as the fundraising guru for San Antonio's local jazz station KRTU 91.7 FM. We are a non-profit station out of Trinity University, and we focus our programing on mainstream, straight-ahead jazz, the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (one of my favorites), Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday as picture above, and others. This past week we were in our annual Fall membership drive, which is basically a grueling, 12-hour-a-day-eight-days-straight on-air campaign to raise money and members to support the station.
The membership drive is exhausting but important to me, both becase it is my job, but also because the station is something I am proud to represent. In addition to my desk job in development, I also host a show on Sunday night... Estro Jazz. The show is all about the ladies of jazz, featuring female composers, musicians, vocalists, and all of the many women who contributed and continue to contribute to this traditionally male-dominated musical genre. You can hear my show on the KRTU audio archives, just find the Estro Jazz link on Sunday at 8 p.m. and click to open. I am by no means a jazz expert, but I am learning so much from hosting the program and sincerely hope that my show brings a new perspective to listeners, opening up their minds to the music of talented women.
I think that is what public radio is all about, opening up our minds to new ideas, perspectives, and stories. As a mass communication medium, I think radio succeeds at maintaining a level of personalization between the listener and the broadcaster. For the most part, when people listen to the radio they are listening alone in a car, at their desks at work, or maybe in the kitchen. That means that the words, music, and programming feel like they are being delivered just to you. That is a special feeling. Listeners begin to feel a kinship to the hosts of their favorite programs, and look foward to sharing time with the radio and their favorite host on a regular basis.
Me for example, I love Love LOVE to listen to This American Life while I sew, and I get a kick out of The Splendid Table on my weekend errands around town, probably because it is all about food and cooking and eating! I have Texas Public Radio - San Antonio's NPR affiliate - on my car dial almost all of the time. Of course, the other times my dial is on jazz at 91.7 FM. It is a bit weird to enjoy public radio as much as I do now, because I remember a time when I could not stand it, but now, I cannot imagine living without it.
After spending eight days in the studio on-air speaking the fundraising message and coaching my on-air talent in their delivery of the reasons for giving to public radio, I can say without a doubt that public radio is something I truly believe in, and I am happy to support it professionally, and personally as a donor.
Well, it's back to work for me. We are in the final hours of the last day of the fund drive, and that means the phones are busy and there are donations to take. Next time you hear your local public radio station make the call for support, seriously consider joining, at least at the basic level, because the power of public radio is harnessed only by the contributions of supporters like you.