Pledge drives produce conflicting feelings in me, and I can’t be the only one. I’m talking specifically about the pledge drives that radio stations do, as I rarely run across the TV ones, and even more specifically about a station here in town. I realize that non-profit stations need to raise money somehow, but there has to be a better way, doesn’t there?
Most of the chatter they do to try to convice you to chip in can be pretty much summed up in the last thing Kramer says in this quote from an episode of Seinfeld entitled “The Pledge Drive“:
Nana: Hello, I’d like to speak with Jerry. This is his grandmother.
Kramer: Oh, uh, Nana. Hello.
Nana: Tell Jerry I’m sorry, I’m going to have to write him some new checks.
Kramer: As long as you’ve got your checkbook out, how about forking a little over to PBS? You watch the station, don’t you? You don’t want to be a freeloader.
Here’s this station that I’ve been sort of nonchalantly listening to when BAM! – pledge drive week. Now, rather than just listening, I’m being confronted with the fact that by not chipping in, I’m being an awful, awful person.
Sure, I realize this sort of thing is a necessity. It’s nice to not have to hear commercials all the time, and the people that work at the station should get paid for what they do. In fact, there was a time in my life where I really wanted to work in radio. I still wonder every now and again if I’d have been any good at it. So I can understand that part of it.
But the hassling! These normally friendly people are saying things like “Only 5% of our listeners have donated” and “If you’re not a part of this, you’re missing out” and all it sounds like to me is a couple of knuckle-cracking thugs looking around and saying, “Nice radio you got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it.”
So I’m equal parts ashamed and annoyed, the first because I can’t bring myself to donate and the second because I can’t bring myself to stop listening to them badger me. I’m some sort of sadistic freeloader, which seems like a contradiction in terms.
The good thing is that the pledge drive is over now. I guess we’ll see if there’s still a station to listen to in a month.