Donation station

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Whenever I drive into a new town I automatically flip my radio dial to the lower 80s and slowly go up from there to find a radio station.

I know the majority of music stations are in the 100 FM area, but I've got CDs for music.

I'm looking for something a little more informative: the public broadcasting station.

It's the same intriguing national programming everywhere you go, but each community supplements that with local programming nuggets.

Twice a year, though, my "Morning Edition" and my silent afternoon conversations with "All Things Considered" are interrupted a little more frequently by the local host asking for donations and contributions.

Just before I get annoyed, I realize what this is: the spring membership drive.

Public broadcasting stations are funded mostly through public contributions. People donate and become members. They can become members all year, but each fall and spring the stations spend a week asking for membership renewals and new members.

Sometimes they offer gifts. According to the stations, public radio listeners like donating money when the rewards are twofold and benefit the station as well as the community. Some stations offer a reusable tote or coffee mug. This time around, KRCU is offering listeners who donate a certain amount a tree to plant or to direct volunteers to plant somewhere.

Right after Eleanor Beardsley signs off, the local host asks me just how much I like listening to this programming.

A lot, I tell him. Arranging my hair and getting dressed wouldn't be the same without Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne. Dishes without "A Prairie Home Companion" would just be lonely.

And KRCU, the public radio station at Southeast Missouri State University, has different local programming every day of the week. Tom Harte's "Cafe Concerto" from 11 a.m. to noon and Elliot Potter from 10 p.m. to midnight anchor days speckled with local shows that feature classical music, Broadway tunes and music from movies.

Every night a different show. Every day the same high quality.

So why don't you donate during our membership drive? The local host asks me.

I don't know. I just might. How much is my morning routine worth?

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