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Covering sequestration part of WETS goal for drive

Rex Barber • Apr 2, 2013 at 8:58 PM

Now that it is clear sequestration will cost 89.5 WETS-FM around $10,000 in funding, the goal for this year’s spring fundraiser, which begins today, is a little higher said station manager Wayne Winkler.

“In addition to $200,000, we’re hoping to make up the 5 percent cut in federal funding that we took this year,” he said of the goal for this spring’s fundraiser.

That means the goal is $210,000.

The on-air portion of the spring fundraising drive begins today and will end April 12.

WETS is East Tennessee State University’s public radio station. The station’s budget is about $1 million per year. The university provides a little under half that amount, with the rest coming from listeners and local businesses and a community service grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Part of this grant was withheld while the impact of sequestration was determined.

“And we finally found out last week that we’re taking another 5 percent cut in our federal money, which will probably equal about just under $10,000,” Winkler said.

Two WETS fundraisers are held each year, in spring and fall. Winkler said the goals typically are around $200,000 for each fundraiser, though donations are accepted year-round.

Sometimes the goal is met or exceeded. Sometimes WETS fundraisers fall short.

For example, in spring 2012, the station fell around $92,000 short of the stated goal. But donations continued well after the drive.

“The money didn’t stop coming in once we stopped asking for it,” Winkler said. “By the time the fiscal year was over... we got pretty close to meeting our goal for the spring fundraiser. You can’t count ’em out too early.”

The goal for the fall 2012 drive was $200,000. Around $214,000 was raised, Winkler said.

“Fall went very well,” he said. “Sometimes we do a little better, sometimes not quite that, but it all evens out. We can count on our listeners to contribute what’s needed.

“Of course, we’re online; people can contribute year-round. Like I said last spring, a lot of our contributions come in after the drive is over.”

Winkler credited listeners with WETS’ success with fundraising through good economic times and bad.

“We’re just a year away from our 40th anniversary,” he said. “We went on the air in 1974, so in 39 years we’ve enjoyed tremendous support from our audience. And I have to say we’ve also enjoyed tremendous support from East Tennessee State University. We’ve got a nice bedrock of support from the university.”

This will be the last fundraiser for WETS Program Director Larry Mayer, who was hired in 2005. He will be retiring after the fundraiser. Mayer previously worked at KUSC in Los Angeles. Winkler credited Mayer with helping guide WETS through the process of adding additional streaming channels.

“He’s done a great job and we’re really going to miss him,” Winkler said. “This will be the last fundraiser where we get to enjoy his corny jokes. He’s got a corny joke for every occasion.”

As an incentive for this spring’s fundraising drive, WETS has flash drives with interviews from The Diane Rehm Show, one of the programs broadcast by WETS. These interviews are not available anywhere else, Winkler said, and will be given to listeners who donate $300.

“For fans of The Diane Rehm Show, this is a really nice little thing,” Winkler said.

Volunteers are needed to help answer phones and take pledges during the fundraising drive. Winkler said there are plenty of times open to volunteer.

“We serve lunch and dinner,” he said. “We’ve got snacks all day long. It’s a lot of fun.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should call Tony Coker at 439-6443 or send an email to wets@etsu.edu.

To make a pledge, call 888-895-9387. Pledges also can be made online at wets.org.

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