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WETS fundraiser $92,000 short

Rex Barber • Apr 6, 2012 at 10:51 PM

89.5 WETS-FM fell more than $90,000 short of its goal for the station’s spring fundraiser, which wrapped up Thursday.

“We didn’t do quite as well as we’d hoped, but that happens sometimes,” said station manager Wayne Winkler.

Winkler said $73,000 was pledged during the drive, which began March 28. That was $92,000 short of the goal of $165,000.

WETS, the public radio station operated by East Tennessee State University, holds two annual drives that provide around $400,000 of the station’s nearly $1 million yearly budget.

Winkler said on average about one in four fundraisers falls a little or a lot short of its goal.

He would blame the tough economy as a factor in the shortfall this year, but that would not explain the three previous successful fundraisers, which included the station’s most successful drive ever in spring 2011 that raised more than $200,000.

WETS programming is likely not to blame either for the shortfall, Winkler said. The station began broadcasting mainly talk radio on its FM station a few years ago. This past fall the station began broadcasting HD channels that offer a mix of different genres of music.

“We’ve had four successful fundraisers since the format changed, so I wouldn’t say it’s that,” Winkler said “At this point we just try to analyze what we did, look at the numbers. You just do the best you can and hope for the best next time.”

Winkler did point out that online donations increased for this fundraiser.

Still, Winkler said this was a slow drive and that he had noticed some other radio stations in the area that hold fundraisers had fallen short of their stated goals.

“You ask for what you want and settle for what you need,” Winkler said.

Right now, Winkler is deciding exactly what he needs. He said he would likely follow up the campaign with mailings and perhaps another fundraiser in June, before the end of the fiscal year. Right now, it is too soon to know exactly how to proceed.

“We’re going to have to really look at how much money we’re going to have for our budget,” he said. “At this point I really don’t know where we stand. There’s still money coming in from the last drive.”

In fact, it is not uncommon to have pledged money coming in from the past three or four drives, Winkler said.

WETS accepts money all year long, not just during the annual fundraisers.

“It’s really nonstop,” Winkler said. “What’s on the air is really just a small portion of it.”

Visit wets.org for more information on the station and donating.

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