OK, I admit it, I'm a thief!
I'm a horrible hypocrite and I should be locked up! I drive around in my little Honda Civic, looking all innocent, all the while hiding a terrible, dark secret! I've been stealing almost every day for several years! This is worse than that time I skipped a school board election just because I don't have children and had no idea who to vote for. So, what did I do that could be so bad, you ask?
I've been listening to NPR and I let my membership lapse. I know! I feel terrible about it! OK, here's what happened:
I used to contribute years ago and I actually gave quite a bit because I would take the expensive premiums, like tickets to concerts and things like that. But several years ago I was having major financial problems and I could barely pay my bills. I don't want to act like I was living in poverty or anything; I was just going through a brief period where I had no money.
My only entertainment was watching public television, using an antenna (OMG, no cable?!). So I maintained my very reasonable $40 annual contribution to my local PBS station. But I had to let my public radio subscription lapse. I wasn't actually listening to the radio very much, anyway. After a few years, though, while I still didn't have much money, I probably could have afforded to start contributing again.
But I didn't. Here's the problem: When I first looked into trying to make a minimum donation to KPCC, our station in Pasadena, it looked like the minimum amount they wanted was $89. The 89 corresponds to the number on the dial (89.3) and I know I could have given less but I felt like I wouldn't have been a real member. I was just shocked that they wanted over twice as much as my public television station; I think it's much more expensive to produce television. The second problem is that I actually listen to two stations (the other is KCRW, 89.9) and I couldn't decide which to give to and I didn't feel like I could afford both. And I just kept putting it off and then completely forgot about it. Every once in a while, as I was quickly turning off a pledge drive, I would say to myself, "Self, you really need to make a contribution. You can afford it now."
So I finally did it! I just contributed to both stations. By the way, KCRW only demands $25 from you for a basic membership, which is very reasonable.
One more thing: you know how they always say how important it is to contribute, no matter how small the amount? Well, I think that's bullshit. I think they probably lose money on small contributions because if you donate anything they end up bombarding you with mailings pleading for more money. And those mailings must be expensive! I'm reminded of a New Yorker cartoon from a few years ago by Matthew Diffee where a guy opens a letter and it reads, "Your generous donation will help pay for these solicitations."
That's my rant of the day: coming out of the closet as a longtime public radio thief and telling the tale of my courage and generosity in taking 30 second out of my day to go online and contribute the absolute smallest amount I could comfortably get away with. Does that make me a hero? Maybe; but I'm not doing this for the glory. Hearing Carl Kassell's voice every day is all the thanks I need. If you don't listen to public radio, you should; it's very good! And if you can't afford to donate any money, don't worry about it; I've got you covered. Don't let them make you feel guilty! I'd rather you were listening to public radio and not contributing than have you not listen at all!
But if you can afford it, send them some cash! It doesn't matter how small the amount. every little bit helps. Really.