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Monday, April 7, 2008

They’re Having a Pledge Drive Over at KUOW…

posted by on April 7 at 7:52 AM

…and I just heard ‘em say that they need your pledge—now! right away! before it’s too late!—to stay on the air. Things sound pretty desperate over there on the Ave, huh? So now might be a good time to re-read this October 2007 piece in the Stranger by Michael Hood of Blatherwatch:

“When staff found out there was all this money—not only in the bank, but being generated [during pledge week]—they asked: Why are we duping the donors?” That’s how a former KUOW staffer characterized internal reaction to the station’s upcoming annual financial report. Last year, the station had a $1.3 million surplus. This year’s report, according to the former staffer, will show an even larger surplus.

So why do KUOW’s twice-yearly pledge drives—one started on October 8—make it sound like the wolves are at the door?

“Maybe they’re too good at raising money,” says one longtime supporter of the station.


As staffers beg for donations on-air this week, listeners will be told that their money is desperately needed for programming, programming, programming. Listeners will not be told about surpluses or the station’s expansion, its planned innovations, or new platforms being built with the money KUOW raises from its listeners. There’s nothing wrong—it’s commendable, even—that KUOW is using its surpluses to expand and innovate. But public radio listeners are famously well-informed and sophisticated. They can be trusted with the whole story.

Read the whole thing here.

RSS icon Comments


Not a dime from me until they either apologize to or rehire Ken Vincent.

Posted by Andy Niable | April 7, 2008 7:56 AM

I used to be an schmuck who donated to them but since their programming has turned into radio crap (along with Air America since they suspened Randi Rhodes last week) I just rely on my NYT and Washington Post and Financial Times for news.

"Jim, they're dying" Spock

"Let them die!" Kirk

Posted by Andrew | April 7, 2008 8:01 AM

Once upon a time, I listened to KUOW. I realized that the programming is terrible. They'll be okay, but won't be receiving any support from me.

Posted by Fitz | April 7, 2008 8:07 AM

Oh no! A public radio conspiracy!

KUOW is, for me, the best station in Seattle. Nothing else is worth listening to.

Posted by Curtains | April 7, 2008 8:18 AM

As in, being a nonprofit is not a license to commit.

When Rev. Moon did it, he got prosecuted.

Posted by unPC | April 7, 2008 8:26 AM

I've stopped listening at night—I just can't stand the chopped up bits of the last week-or-so's daytime programming.

Posted by Dan Savage | April 7, 2008 8:44 AM

I'm often torn at donation times.

On the one hand, I do listen to KUOW a lot. I'm self employed, so I can listen to whatever I want all day (or comment on Slog all day). So I probably listen more than most folks do. I feel like maybe I should contribute.

On the other hand, I find most of the local programing is pretty lousy. "Weekday" is very hit and miss, sometimes interesting, and other time extremely lame. I can't stand Ross Reynolds and "the Conversation" (partly its just that his voice grates on my nerves). "Sound Focus" is excruciating. When I think about it, mostly what I listen to is the national programing from NPR, PRI, BBC, etc. I am sometimes tempted to contribute directly to NPR rather than the local station.

I also find the whole fund drive painful to listen to. The fake phones-in-the-background. The incessant begging that takes up half the show, all day long. I've gotten to the point where I just don't listen to KUOW at all during pledge week.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | April 7, 2008 9:57 AM

Please keep in mind that there is ANOTHER radio station in town, KBCS, that is community-based, volunteer run and has just completed its spring pledge drive. While its goals were considerably more modest than KUOW's, alternative public affairs programming is offered (i.e. Democracy Now, Free Speech Radio news, locally produced programs)along w/eclectic music shows (take that, KEXP!). This is the little station that could that truely relies on listener support.

Posted by Peaches | April 7, 2008 10:20 AM

Morning news: standard npr, useful
Weekday: Love the news from canada, Cliff Mass, and the friday 2nd hour with the local opinion writers. Also love when the AG is on.
The rest of the programming up till 3pm is garbage.

It's still more reliable, less distorted than any other radio or tv news I'm aware of. Therefore, I donate.

Posted by NPR | April 7, 2008 10:21 AM

Why would I donate money to listen to the same tired MSM memes and right wing talking points I can get else where? If KUOW decides to broadcast some alternative media in addition to their current line up (i.e. offer a balance of opinions), then they can get some scratch from me. Until then, they can kiss my ass. #8 is right... KBCS offers much better news programming.

Posted by samdinista | April 7, 2008 10:53 AM

As a pledge volunteer, the phones ringing in the background are real.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | April 7, 2008 1:50 PM

what happened to their night time programming. it just disappeared. maybe this is how they saved all that money. they just stopped spending it on quality!

steve sher is an utter idiot.

Posted by terry miller | April 7, 2008 8:50 PM

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