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WETS fundraiser starts Monday

Robert Houk • Updated Oct 6, 2018 at 4:55 PM

It’s fall fundraising time for WETS-FM. The public radio station began the online portion of its fundraiser last week.

Telephone banks will open Monday for the on-air segment of the fundraising drive, with volunteers taking calls from donors from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday.

Contributions can be made by calling 888-895-9387, or going online at wets.org.

Wayne Winkler, WETS director, said the radio station is leaving the goal “open-ended” for its first fundraiser of the fiscal year.

“If we raise  $200,000 I’ll be a happy man,” he said.

Winkler also answered the following questions from the Johnson City Press:

Where do the funds you raise go?

“We use the money for programming, mostly, but listener funds are the only unrestricted funds we have, so if necessary we can use some of that money to replace a computer or a piece of audio equipment, or for other needs as they arise.”

Have your costs gone up?

“The cost of programming from National Public Radio has gone up. For three years, NPR held annual increases to 3 percent. This year, programming costs went up by almost 6 percent.

What are the key programs heard on WETS that are funded by listeners?

“The key programs that rely on listener funds are  — all of them. We use some money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s annual Community Service Grant to supplement funding for programs, but the entire CSG is considerably less that the annual cost of programming.

“Some sample program costs for the current fiscal year include ‘Morning Edition’ at $65,133, ‘All Things Considered’ at $42,555 and ‘On Point’ at $9,184.”

What are the challenges you face these days in raising funds?

“As anyone who does it can tell you, fundraising is always a challenge. We’re not facing any unusual difficulties this year, as far as I know, but there are always many, many more worthy causes than there are dollars to contribute.

“We saw a significant increase in support during the 2017 fiscal year. People responded to NPR’s election coverage, the election of Donald Trump and the renewed threat to federal funding for public broadcasting. We raised about 30 percent more than average as a result. The numbers for last year came back to ‘normal’ levels.”

What’s the one important thing you want listeners to know about the fall fundraiser?

What I would like listeners to understand about this fundraiser is that nationwide, only about 1 in 10 listeners contributes to his or her public radio station. If we increased that to 2 out of every 10 WETS listeners becoming contributors, the result would be dramatic.

“It’s been said that the most important swing voters this election season won’t be those who switch from Republican to Democrat, or Democrat to Republican. The most important votes will come from those who switch from non-voter to voter. The same holds true for public radio listeners.”

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