Fall is here. That means it’s time to rake the leaves, clean out the gutters and watch football. It’s also time to make a contribution to WETS-FM. The public radio station will kick off its fall on-air fundraising drive on Wednesday.
It’s always been a struggle for WETS to collect the funds it needs to stay on the air. Donations have not kept pace with programming costs. Surveys have shown the listener contribution rate for WETS to be markedly lower than it should be for a public radio station of its demographics.
Too many fans of WETS have been content to let someone else carry the financial load. Some mistakenly believe the federal government will take up the slack. That’s not the case.
More than half the funding for WETS comes from listener support. The rest comes from other sources, including state and federal grants.
That’s why on-air announcers are often heard to say on WETS: “This station is operated as a partnership between East Tennessee State University and listeners like you.”
It’s been a time of change for public broadcasting in this country, and that has certainly been true of WETS. The station received harsh criticism from some listeners last year when it replaced its longtime morning classical and afternoon Americana music shows with a weekday news and talk format.
Thankfully, loyal listeners of the public radio station have embraced the format.
And music lovers will soon see a return of the programming they have missed. WETS is set to begin broadcasting digital streams of Americana, jazz and classical music. Earlier this year, the station received a $70,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to buy and install an HD transmitter. Listeners are responsible for contributing another $30,000 to match the federal grant.
Those who make a donation of $300 or more are entitled to receive an HD radio. Supplies of these receivers are limited, so make your pledge now while they’re available.
Contributions to WETS can be made online at www.wets.org or by calling 888-895-9387. Donations also can be made by using a Visa or MasterCard, or listeners can ask to be billed later.