United Way takes campaign to the airwaves

Friday, September 24, 2004

Radio listeners will be hearing something other than the regular programming on the airwaves of local radio stations Real Rock 99.3 FM, KISS 93.9 FM, K103 FM and KZIM AM 960 on Oct. 1 when the United Way of Southeast Missouri holds its first radiothon.

The goal of the radiothon is to raise awareness of the United Way and what it does in the community, as well as raise money that will go toward the 32 agencies the organization helps fund.

"The majority of our campaign pledges come through employee campaigns," said Nancy Jernigan, executive director of the area's United Way organization. "We have all these employee campaigns -- which is great -- but we know we are missing a bunch of people in the community."

Over the years, the local United Way has attempted to reach these members of the community by door-to-door campaigns, tray liners at Burger King and McDonald's, its Web site, inserts in newspapers and, starting in October, inserts in Capaha Bank statements mailed out to customers.

"We keep trying to think of different ways to reach people," Jernigan said.

Utilizing local radio stations allows the United Way message to reach a large and diverse number of people at once.

Although the four radio stations taking part in the radiothon are owned by Mississippi River Radio, they offer different programming. Real Rock plays current rock and alternative music, while KISS is geared toward classic rock, K103 plays country music and KZIM is talk radio.

Morning interviews

The radiothon takes place from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and starts off with live morning interviews with Jernigan and KFVS12 general manager Mike Smythe, as well as members of organizations that the United Way contributes to, such as the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts of America and Habitat for Humanity.

From 6 to 9 a.m., KZIM will focus on the United Way on its morning news show and guests will stop by the other participating stations for live interviews.

Throughout the day, taped segments about how local people have been affected by the United Way will be aired, and during breaks the radio hosts will talk about the radiothon and the United Way and give people a phone number that they can call to donate money.

Those donating $300 or more will be given a T-shirt and their names will be entered in a drawing to win a portable DVD player. But Jernigan said any donation amount is appreciated and makes a difference.

Jernigan and Smythe will be back on KZIM from 5 to 6 p.m. to give a wrap-up of the radiothon.

Faune Riggin, KZIM program director, said she thinks the radiothon will be a success.

"This community -- when it comes to the United Way -- they can't open their wallets fast enough," Riggin said.

According to Riggin, the radiothon gives the United Way a unique opportunity to reach a crosssection of the public.

"We're really reaching everybody. How often do you get to do that?" Riggin said.

Jernigan is also optimistic about the radio effort.

"Hopefully, the concentrated effort of the radiothon will capture a whole audience that will be compelled to respond," Jernigan said.

And Jernigan said the United Way has a great case to make to the community as to why to donate. She said the local United Way provides financial support to 32 agencies covering Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Scott City, Perryville and Marble Hill that cover a wide variety of programs and services.

kalfisi@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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