After the pledge drive, earning our keep

Radiobob Sauter and Brian Mann singing for their suppers (NCPR file photo)

Last week, North Country Public Radio and a few thousand people got together and hit a quarter million dollar goal in five and a half days.

It was hectic and fun and a little scary sometimes.

Away from the sound and fury of the spring membership drive, I want to think out loud about what that weird, tote-bag-and-coffee-cup ritual means to me and what I do.

I am, when you strip away all the silliness of titles and grant application verbiage, a reporter.  An old-fashioned, root around and see what’s going on in the world journalist.

I spend days doing stuff that would make a lot of people cringe.  I’m barking back at politicians or trying to wheedle information out of reluctant bureaucrats.  I’m digging through budget spreadsheets.

But I also get to leap magically into the lives of some of the most interesting people in the world.  I go to amazing places.  As long as I come back with true, factual and interesting stories, I pretty much get to write my own ticket.

And the thing is, you guys let me.

When you give your hard-earned $40 bucks, or when you pay for an underwriting spot, or when you donate a giveaway gift, it adds up to me getting to launch a year-long series about prisons in America.

It adds up to me digging into the behind-the-scenes politics at the Trudeau Institute, or exploring the lives of young veterans returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq.

I get to work deeper, and slower, and more thoroughly because you doled out a $20 gift.

The old adage in public radio is that we have a crazy business model.  We give our work away for free and then ask you, on the honor system, to chip in and help us pay our bills.

But I stopped thinking it was crazy a long time ago.  As newspapers crumble, as commercial TV stations slash their reporting budgets, as magazines implode, NCPR continues to grow and expand.

I know it sounds corny, but when I’m doing my job, I am constantly aware of who it is who helps to pay my salary.  Aware that at the end of the day, I owe the North Country not just gratitude — and I am thankful — but also a huge amount of sweat equity.

There’s a responsibility on our end to earn our keep, to make sure that you guys never, ever regret making that phone call or hitting that “Give” button on the website.

I’m sure you’ll all let us know if you think we fall short of that mark.

Finally I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t remind those of you who didn’t get around to giving yet that it’s an important thing to do and there’s never a bad time.

Thanks again.






1 Comment on “After the pledge drive, earning our keep”

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  1. Marquil says:

    Congrats to Julie Grant and Nora Flaherty (RIP: ABF) and the entire NCPR news staff for winning Regional Edward Murrow awards.

    Congrats, too, to Brian and Chris Knight for NY News Publishers Association’s award for their collaboration on a story about changes at the Trudeau Labs.

    Good news.

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