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WETS fundraiser sees rise in online donations

Rex Barber • Apr 3, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Donations are about on par with previous years for the 89.5 WETS-FM annual spring fundraising drive, according to the station manager.

Station manager Wayne Winkler said he had hoped to speed up this year’s drive by offering special pledge challenges

“We had hoped to make it go faster,” Winkler said. “We thought we’d try out a few new things, and some things worked well.”

The fundraising drive has received the same kind of response as in years past, though. But Winkler said it was important to try new ideas.

WETS is a public radio station operated by East Tennessee State University.

In past fundraising drives, the station had issued challenges to listeners to match certain pledges. This year, special challenges were issued for listeners to pledge on behalf of a certain school, with the school pledged for the most getting a day of sponsorship with the station. Another special challenge pitted dogs against cats to see which species supported public radio. There were other challenges, too.

Those were intended to be fun ways to speed up the donations, Winkler said.

“We didn’t get the goals we had hoped to get,” Winkler said. “If we had we would be done now. Everything is fine. We just didn’t get the response we had hoped.”

Winkler said the station was on track to make its stated goal of $165,000 in giving this year.

“By the end of the fiscal year on June 30 I think we will be there,” Winkler said. “A lot of our big pledges don’t ever come in until after the drive is over. The on-air fundraiser is sort of the tip of the iceberg, the part that people get to hear.”

The drive began Wednesday and will end Thursday.

WETS fundraising drives are held each spring and fall, but listeners can visit the WETS website and give at any time. In fact, listeners giving online during the cyberdrive challenge the day before the current fundraiser officially began was up this year, Winkler said. This challenge asked listeners to pledge online for the chance to win a $100 gas card.

The increase in online donations for this year’s cyberdrive challenge was considered a success, Winkler said.

WETS began HD broadcasts this past fall. In addition to the standard FM transmissions any radio can receive, WETS also broadcasts three new signals. A digital receiver will recognize these new signals and offer listeners the option of WETS-HD 1, which is a digital version of the analog signal that broadcasts news and information; WETS-HD 2, which has folk, old-time, bluegrass, blues vintage country and rock and other genres; and WETS-HD 3, which is mainly classical music with some jazz.

Winkler said the new HD channels have increased the reach of WETS via online listeners.

For instance, a pledge was received Monday morning from a listener in Wisconsin who picked up WETS-H2.

Winkler said the station can track where in the world online listeners are located. He said people in Japan, Scotland, Australia, and Belize are among WETS listeners.

“Those three streams online are getting a lot of traffic from all over the world,” Winkler said. “It’s really interesting to see how far our reach is.”

Visit wets.org for more information on the station and the fundraising drive.

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