Friday, October 24, 2008

Fire Alarm, Phone Volunteers Evacuated, Owl Delivers Money

Scene: Master Control at Northwest Public Radio. 3 hours before the end of a tense, yet fun, ONE DAY PUBLIC RADIO PLEDGE DRIVE.

Characters: Thom Kokenge, NWPR's Weekend Edition Host. Sueann Ramella, All Things Considered Host and Kerry Swanson, NWPR's Programming Ops Guru.

Sueann: "Good afternoon! I am Sueann Ramella and with me is Thom Kokenge, our Weekend Edition Host! Hi Thom!"
Thom: "Hi Sueann! I am joining Sueann this evening to help raise the money we need to pay for programs like All Things Considered! Today is Super Thursday, our One Day Pledge Drive! We started the drive this morning and we will end it tonight! So if you have not called in with a pledge of support do so now at 1-800-842-8991! (You already know this number by heart right?)"

Sueann: "That's right Thom! We tried this in the Spring and it was a great success. So here we are, trying to raise a week's worth of funds in one day (nervous giggle) I sure hope we can do it!"

Thom: "We can if we keep up the momentum! We already have....(Kerry furiously writes on the white board our latest numbers....) we already have 1800 calls in! We only need 700 to go in the next 3 hours! So call now and thank you!"

Sueann turns off the microphones and take off the headphones.

Sueann: "OK. Good job! We will stick with the show on the satelite feed for 18 minutes. Then we will cut back in for ...."

Thom: (Looking at Kerry Swanson) "What's up man? You look freaked out."

Kerry: "Uh. The phones are down."

Sueann: "Kerry! Knock it off! You almost had me! (hearty laugh...turns to nervous laugh as Sueann looks into Kerry's freaked out eyes) OMG! He's serious. Look at his face!"

Kerry: "The short end of it is, the phones are down. I will get the whole story in a minute. But for now, ask listeners to pledge on our website."

(Insert suspenseful music with a light drum beat and base)

Sueann and Thom look at each other in disbelief. Thom tilts his head and squints his left eye. Sueann's eyes widen, wrinkling her forehead and her mouth falls open. Time seems to pass V.E.R.Y S.L.O.W.L.Y.

Kerry: "Everything is going to be fine. (Kerry hugs himself and starts to rock back and forth) It's ok. I...I am going to get more information. Sit tight. Remember! WEBSITE!"

Sueann: "Can you check the website too? I'm just nervous..."

Kerry: (Shoots Sueann a, 'How DARE you even think that! Don't curse it' look)

Thom: "Well. We must go on. We can't let the lack of phones stop us from getting the money we need to pay for the programs that everyone uses."

Sueann: "You are right Thom. Our listeners can overcome this and find a way to pledge."

Just then, a white owl hits the studio window and makes a screeching sound as it hovers...repeatedly hitting its body on the window pane, over and over again.

Thom: "Look over there! It's a pledge!"

Sueann: "Thom! Can you believe it? A listener has sent a pledge of support in to us! That's amazing! They must really appreciate the balanced news coverage of the election. Where else will they get the fact checks and information they need to be an informed voter? Let the owl in!"

Thom: (Takes the envelope from the owls sharp claws.) "Mr. Potter in Yakima says, 'I am a big fan of Morning Edition and can't live without hearing Gillian Coldsnow's gorgeous accent in the morning. Thank you for being there for me!' WOW! What a devoted listener!"

Sirens are heard and a fire truck drives down the street. One truck takes a detour and stops right below the Master Control room window. The ladder is extended up to the window and Sueann and Thom watch as a Fireman climbs up waving what appears to be a renewal form.

Fireman: "I wanted to give you this before I headed over to the phone bank. It's my renewal form. Here you go. Look. I know I should be over there finding out why the fire alarm is going off in the phone bank room...but public radio is a priority and since you were on my way...."

Thom: "Wow. Thanks a lot Mr. Fireman!"

Sueann: "Yeah thanks! (looks at Thom) I have to blog about this!"

Just then the studio door swings open. Kerry, out of breath, tries to report what happened to the phone bank.

Kerry: "Wires...Everything fine. People...coming"

Thom: "I think he is trying to tell us something."

Sueann: "Give him some water! OK. Just take your Actually, we have to be on the air in 30 seconds so spit it out Kerry!"

Kerry: "The heating duct had an issue...some wires were smoking...the alarm went off. Phone volunteers are coming over here....everyone ok. Building ok...Will take some time to get some phones in old phone room...tell them to pledge online!"

Sueann: "You're a super producer Kerry! Way to go. OK we are on in 5...4....3..."

Sueann: (super smiley) "GOOD EVENING! (no panic in voice) Thank you for listening to Northwest Public Radio. I'm Sueann Ramella and with me is Thom Kokenge."

Sueann and Thom talk about the importance of listener funded shows, and about international news reporting. They encourage people to make a pledge online at

Sueann: "And if you renewed your membership through an owl or over ladders, thank you for the effort. We really appreciate your annual contributions!"

Sueann and Thom look across the studio to the old phone room. Legions of phone volunteers squeeze into the room. NWPR Staff frantically set up tables, chairs and phones.

Sueann: "It's like a Barry Manilow concert in there! You know Thom, Barry latest album is all about songs from the 70's. It's really good!"

Kerry: "OK. They have phones working now! Promote the phone number! Let's get those 700 calls team!"

Kerry, Sueann and Thom extend their right hands and lay them on top of each other.

Kerry, Sueann, Thom: "GOOOOO TEAM! Huuuugh!"

Epilogue: The team at Northwest Public Radio, including the legion of phone volunteers were able to take nearly 500 pledges of support by hand between the 4-7pm hours on Super Thursday. Nearly 2,400 calls came in on Super Thursday. A little short of the 2,500 goal. The listeners of Northwest Public Radio contributed nearly $259,000 to their favorite programs. It was a GREAT SUCCESS!

It is reported by Bobbie and Dorene of Soap Lake that some faulty heating wiring was the cause of the evacuation of the phone bank building. Dorene reports that she started to feel the smoke in her chest earlier in the day but dismissed this as All Day Phone Volunteer Fatigue. However, Bobbie reported smelling something burning...but every time she tried to speak up her phone rang and she had to take a pledge of support. Both ladies continued to take pledges during the fire alarm!

Quote from caller: "Look Lady. I love public radio too but you have a fire alarm going. I'll call back later. You get out of the building!" Bobbie continued to take his pledge anyway.

Kerry Swanson was awarded a producer medal for the fastest sprint into a smoking building to find out what was going on, and for picking out all the brown M&Ms from Sueann's candy bowl. (She's such a diva!)

But the Grand Award goes to our listeners for their support of Super Thursday!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reasons to Pledge On Super Thursday

Our one day pledge drive is almost here! Super Thursday is October 23rd. It is a very exciting time for everyone at Northwest Public Radio because we get to hear from you! You are the single largest source of income for Northwest Public Radio. Our shows are literally paid for by you! If you are a member thank you. If you are not, here are 5 reasons to pledge.

1. All Things Considered series on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Why? Because where else will you get 5 in depth stories on growing tensions, military tactics and local reaction from those on the front line? NPR is able to bring you this series, and others, because of your support. Your $35, $50 or $350 pledge pays for our reporters to cover the stories that matter to you.

2. Election 2008 Coverage You heard the debates on Northwest Public Radio. You tuned in to Morning Edition for analysis and excerpts from the debates. You have been keeping up to date on polls and the issues. Most importantly, you learned who the candidates are with our profiles of John McCain and Barrack Obama

3. Even the news junkie can be overwhelmed with researching everything the candidates say. Reason number 3 to pledge to Northwest Public Radio? VoxPolitics. This has been my source to fact check the candidates. What kind of relationship does Obama have with Ayers? And who benefits from each candidates health care plan?

4. One word. Bailout. You have been waking up each morning in October tuning into Northwest Public Radio to find out what happened to the financial sector. Every morning and afternoon NPR brought you the latest up to date coverage on the economic crisis. The best show to give a description of how it all happened is This American Life. The program explains it all with 'The Day the Market Died,' 'Out of the Hedges and Into the Woods,' and 'Swap Cops.' You need the information to make daily life decisions...that's why you use Northwest Public Radio!

5. Real stories of real people. Have you been following the stories of Iraqi refugees in America? Immigrating to American is a wonderful opportunity. It is also difficult. Northwest Public Radio brings you the stories that touch you. Stories of real people in a real world. We take the time to tell the whole story too! 5 minutes, 8 minutes, 12 minutes of commercial free reporting.

These are my reasons to pledge during Super Thursday. Tell us your reasons why you decided to support public radio when you make that phone call on October 23rd! You can also pledge right now and help us get off to a great start!

Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting Northwest Public Radio.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fred Flintstone Had it Right!

Have you heard about the Human Powered Car? Watch this CNN video:

This may lead to some very uncomfortable carpool moments. What if Mr. Smith didn't pump his part? Or he forgot his deodorant? I guess that's when you have to think about the planet, the money you are saving and the exercise you're getting.

The car costs $15,000 and will be out in 2009. Apparently, you steer it with your butt. Hilarious! I do not think it comes with air bags...and where is the cup holder for the Super Big Gulp?