Commentary
9:00 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Why Drive Matters to WFPL and Louisville Public Media

Hello. I've worked at WFPL for almost six years, doing everything from reporting and blogging to supervising people who report and blog. But now I'm here to talk to you about the future and your role in it.

WFPL's Jonathan Bastian
Credit Louisville Public Media

It's pledge drive time. You know. You hear us on air. We're hoping to raise $500,000 by Saturday. We're also hoping to get 1,500 new members. And that's the important number.

Members.

When you give to public radio, you're a member. It's simple. It's an obvious statement, but it's also one that's easy to forget. Members make this possible, and not just with money. It's the fact that you, a member, believe in public media enough to make a regular contribution. No one is making you. You can listen to our three stations, read our news stories and attend any of the concerts we put on and not pay anything (most people do). You don't have to give us money.

But members aren't okay with that.

Members know what we do is valuable. They know we don't have commercials on air. They know we're not jamming ads all over our content online. They know it's their support that keeps our signal strong and our website updated and it's their memberships that keep all the clutter away.

Gabe Bullard
Credit Joseph Lord/WFPL News

Your membership is valuable, no matter what the amount. Yes, you might get a book (a collection of Moth stories this time!) or a magazine subscription (Louisville Magazine!), but you also get to know that whenever you visit this site or listen to us on air, you're making it possible.

Is that too ethereal? Want solid rewards for your membership? How's this?

Okay. I linked to us as an example. But it's true. We're doing more news than ever here. When I started here in 2008, the newsroom was almost empty. Now we barely have space to put interns. When Joseph Lord started working here, we had to rearrange the furniture so he would have a place to sit. We're building an investigative reporting center.

This doesn't mean we're rolling in money. It means we have dedicated members. We're not burning off surplus cash. We're doing what our members want us to do with the support they give us.

Pledge drive week is also a time to look at where we stand in the media world. It's a time when I hear the words "business model" more than I ever planned to when I was in journalism school.

What business models work for journalism? If you go with what may end up being the Jeff Bezos line of thinking, it's clear. Journalism needs a patron. Maybe this is a wealthy person or company who runs a newspaper or radio station or TV station or website and is content to keep paying to provide the public service of quality reporting.

Maybe instead of a wealthy person, though, the whole community could come together, give whatever they can, and have a media outlet that is not only free from the influence and whims of a wealthy owner or deep-pocketed advertisers, but is efficient, nimble, interesting and responsive to the needs of the community that makes it possible. Maybe that's what Louisville has already done. Maybe it's time for you to join us, too. This is the future.

Join here. 

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