I am an NPR junkie. This means that, at least twice a year, I have to live through the ordeal of pledge drives. For the first few years I lived in Seattle, I was able to pull the same trick I used to use in the Bay Area: in a city with more than one NPR station, when one goes into pledge drive, listen to the other. Sadly, as in the Bay Area, the Seattle area stations figured out this trick, and their drives now happen during the same week. Which is now.
As a true believer in public radio, I’ve been a loyal contributor for years, and I’ve renewed my membership in both of these stations. (I’m also a member of a third local public station, but it isn’t an NPR affiliate.) Still I know that I have to listen to at least a week of clumsily ad-libbed pleas for people to pledge, and poorly performed demonstrations of various silly giveaway items, and the same special pledge-week versions of shows.
Once again, I find myself wishing public radio could be more like shareware. With shareware, you can download it and use it for free, but you are confronted at startup with a box asking you to pay for it. Sometimes you have to wait before you can click to dismiss this box, but once you do, you can still use it. But, once you’ve paid, you never see that annoying box again. I wish there were technology to allow radio listeners who have already pledged to get regular programming, while all those out there who haven’t chipped in got the pledge drives.
Second best would be if NPR gave classes to local affiliates in how to make the pledge drives entertaining. At least the folks in Seattle are better than the ones at KQED in San Francisco, who seemed never to have heard that “more flies with honey” theory.
Still, as bad as they are, a few weeks of pledge drives spread around in a year is SO much better than the constant, annoying ads on commercial radio.