KTWU pledge drive results exceed expectations

Brandon Bills

The results are in and KTWU wins in a landslide.

Topeka’s public television station held its week-long fall pledge drive Sept. 5-14. According to Elaine Gill, assistant director of development, the drive raised almost $70,000, exceeding the goal of $65,000.

“I think-in today’s economy-that’s wonderful,” said Gill. “It’s a testimony of how important public television is to our viewers.”

According to Cindy Barry, director of development, educational services and outreach, pledge weeks held during election seasons generate less revenue. Those who support public television are usually politically engaged and support candidates either actively or financially. There was some concern that the election might once again detract attention and financial support away from KTWU. Fortunately, those concerns were not an issue, as supporters came through for the station.

The pledge drive was broadcast live from KTWU’s Ruth Garvey Fink studio on a set decorated with an election year theme. In keeping with the theme, pledge donors were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite programs. The tally of votes for each program was updated nightly. “Antiques Roadshow” was the consistent winner, followed by “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and KTWU’s own production, “Sunflower Journeys.”

“People enjoyed being able to share their favorite programs in that way,” said Barry.

Donors also commented on what type of programming they would like to see added to the station’s lineup.

“They asked for more British programs, like ‘Doctor Who’,” said Gill.

In the past, KTWU has usually preempted regularly scheduled programming to make room for programs special to pledge week. Gill said that this practice is common for public television stations, however, criticism from views led the station to keep some programming in place. Some programs, such as “Bill Moyers Journal,” were aired in their regular time slot.

“Local fundraising is the single biggest portion of our operating budget,” said Barry, referring to money received from individuals, businesses and the revenue from the “Lights, Camera, Auction” event.

Barry said that there is a misconception that public television receives most of its funding from state and local governments. While the station does receive some government funding, it could not operate without support from viewers.