KTWU pledge drive in third gear

Brandon Bills

Those who relish commercial interruptions are doomed to disappointment this week as local public television station KTWU holds their September pledge drive, continuing the tradition of viewer supported programming.

Beginning this past Saturday and running through the 14th of this month, the goal of the pledge drive is to raise money to meet KTWU/Channel 11’s operating budget expenses. Since it began broadcasting on channel 11 in 1965, KTWU has relied on contributions from viewers.

“It pays for everything from the electric bill to the programs you watch,” said Elaine Gill, assistant director of development for KTWU.

During the pledge drive, KTWU will be broadcasting live from the studio on Washburn’s campus, taking calls from those who want to pledge a contribution.

“All the money we spend, we raise in this building,” said Gill.

KTWU is the home to many popular PBS programs such as “Antiques Roadshow,” “Austin City Limits,” and “Sesame Street.” “Sunflower Journeys,” a program produced by KTWU, will begin a new season in October.

“We want to bring programs that educate and enrich,” said Gill. “Programs that you don’t see elsewhere.”

Special programs during pledge week include “Pavarotti: A Life in Seven Arias.” This performance documentary highlights the career of legendary opera singer Luciano Pavarotti who died September 2007. “Pavarotti” will premier September 11 with repeats scheduled through September 14.

“The one place you find opera on television is PBS,” said Gill.

Also during pledge week, “Billy Joel: The Stranger Live,” the U.S. broadcast debut of Billy Joel’s first British concert in 1978. Originally broadcast on the BBC’s “The Old Grey Whistle Test,” the concert hasn’t been seen since its original 1978 broadcast. The concert premiered Saturday with repeats scheduled for this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The pledge drive relies heavily on volunteer support to do everything from taking pledges over to the phone to running the cameras. Those wishing to volunteer can contact Kathy Woods at 670-1111.