On-air fundraising, ratings, etc
Thu Jan 19 11:51:16 EST 2017
Rob, Thank-You for the interesting recent history of WCRB. In the 90's and
before, 102.5 was one Boston frequency that had no co-channel or first
adjacent competition in the Springfield area, so some folks out here
listened to it. The only other Boston stations, listenable in some spots,
were 98.5 and 89.7.
In 1987, After the Springfield Technical Community College administration
hatched a plan to sell Community & Variety WTCC, 90.7, 4000w, a group of
students, some of us, adult students, got together to "save" the station.
Aside from the obvious goal of convincing the administration and board of
trustees to retain the station, we had to come up with a plan whereby WTCC
would support itself.
We had no resources for a ratings subscription to prove what we were doing,
but we had to make the station attractive to listeners, so we blocked the
programming as much as we could.
Myself and the 2 or 3 other station members who were programming the station
came to the same conclusion that the focus group you mentioned
did--listeners do not like on-air fundraising. But, our estimated budget
would not get us totally out of on-air fundraising. So, we limited it to one
week a year, and even that week is not all fundraising, but more of a
programming mix like public TV does. The other part of the budget was
It all worked. WTCC is a community station owned by STCC, with a mix of R&B,
Gospel, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Jazz, Specialty and Variety programs
and is still self-funded with the same mix of underwriting and a once a year
week long "radiothon". I don't know what the numbers are now, but for the
first 10 years after 1987, the Gospel, R&B, and Polish programs brought in
the most pledges. It has a good signal from Northampton to Hartford, and
the eastern Berkshires to Palmer.
I do know this: while Charles River still owned WCRB, we had Coleman
Research do a number of focus groups, one goal of which was to ascertain
the degree to which commercials induce tune-out in a classical format. The
participants told us that while they didn't especially care for
commercials, they didn't generally tune out when they heard them. However,
what they really didn't like, and what was pretty much guaranteed to make
them tune out, was on-air fundraising. Charles River had occasionally done
some of it for the Boston Symphony, but we never did it again once we
learned how obnoxious our listeners found it. We replaced the BSO
fundraisers with an annual Classical Cartoon Festival, which I understand
WGBH's WCRB still does.
However, WGBH's WCRB does do on-air fundraising. This may, or may not, be
reflected in the station's ratings. I wouldn't know.
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