You can tell autumn has started.
The air is crisp and cool in the morning.
Football games fill stadiums on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.
Public radio stations start their semiannual fund drives.
Among the three stations covering the Twin Counties, WUNC-FM is first up, starting its campaign Wednesday. WTEB-FM starts its drive Thursday, followed by WCPE-FM on Saturday.
The dollar goal each needs to meet is a bit nebulous.
“We don’t usually set an official goal until three or four days out,” said Connie Walker, general manager of WUNC (90.9 FM). The station raised $1.3 million in fall 2010, besting the $1.1 million target it had set.
Charles Wethington and Deborah Proctor, Walker’s counterparts at WTEB (90.3 FM) and WCPE (89.7 FM) respectively, also didn’t have set figures. New Bern-based WTEB is “trying to get away from goals a little bit,” Wethington said, but its unofficial mark is $200,000.
Said Proctor: “This one we’ll keep open-ended. ... If I set something that’s too high, it’s demoralizing if we can’t make it. If I set something that’s too low, everything stops” before the drive was meant to end.
Interestingly, the drives aren’t all matters of dollars and cents, the GMs said.
Fund drives are “primarily about trying to get new members into the fold,” Wethington said.
New members potentially are more than just contributors to the on-air drives. About 40 percent of WUNC’s donors have become “sustainers,” members who make monthly contributions, Walker said. At WCPE, some members start the fundraisers by giving during the “silent campaign,” a direct-mail solicitation that precedes the on-air drive, Proctor explained.
Regardless of the way donations are made, it doesn’t seem possible to understate the value of an individual’s contribution.
“With the reduction of federal funding and the elimination of state funding ... the one area we’ve got to make up these funds from is individual gifts,” Wethington said.
To make a contribution:
- To WCPE, go to theclassicalstation.org or call 800-556-5178.
- To WTEB, go to publicradioeast.org or call 800-222-9832.
- To WUNC, go to wunc.org or call 800-962-9862.
Ross Chandler is Life editor of the Rocky Mount Telegram.