31 December 2009
Happy New (Y)Ear
I'll save resolutions for tomorrow, but the charity for today. You probably know this, but many non-profits have a push for donations at the end of the year, trying to make it to another fiscal year and dole out tax receipts to you and me (though I've never been able to give enough to really feel comfortable about claiming my tax write-off, perhaps this year). My TRA job involves spending many, many hours with my iPod, alone, processing and archiving films and listening to my podcasts, so public radio means a lot to me. (Don't tell my boss, but I would probably do this job for free...it really is a dream sometimes). So I've decided to submit to the pleas from the podcasts and do some last minute giving, with the theme of making it a Happy New Ear. Let me round up some worthy candidates that will get a few of my tightly-held dollars today:
Third Coast International Audio Festival
Check out their podcast, it's low on the radar, but what I really appreciate about 3rdCoast is their compilation of audio works from around the world that I would never find myself. I listened to a riveting set of docs from Australia yesterday that had me gasping, crying, laughing out loud - good stuff. They used to be based out of WBEZ Chicago but just became their own little non-profit this year and the Richard Driehaus foundation is offering a matching grant for every dollar from individuals - people like me! - but only until Dec. 31 aka TODAY. So without lifting a finger, my dollars are doubled. Done.
Sure this isn't my local public radio station, but they do produce Radio Lab which I LOVE and Studio 360 and both are great podcasts. If you pledge $10 a month, which is pretty painless, you also can choose to get a subscription to the New Yorker or the Atlantic - Win- Win. Done.
This American Life
Look, I know, they seem like they're floundering just a little bit. Lots of repeats, kind of a distracted air? but they're not making the TV show anymore (I actually liked the show) and I have high hopes for the coming year. And let's face it, they're the Grandaddy of American Public Radio for people under 60 so it's time to honor the legacy. Though I rarely text (I am old and set in my ways) I do like their new way to donate via Text. Simply Text LIFE to 25383 and it will add a $5 to your mobile phone bill. I like this because there is something off-putting about dragging out my Visa, entering all the info on the secure page, blah blah blah. This way, I won't even notice when I pay my bill but they will. Again, Win-Win.
I'm completely addicted to this first-person account podcast, where people get up there and tell their stories without notes and as best they can. It's perfect little hits of humanity and laughter and sorrow. Lately their podcast emcee has been sounding kind of down and out and I'm worried it's a money thing. I better get in there and support it.
Long Haul Productions
Husband and wife team who make independent radio productions and saw a lot of their funding slashed this year, like many people. I can only give a small gift, but this one feels personal, like it might even matter more. I particularly like their focus on stories that develop over time - how else can we get to the heart of a story or a life - and that takes time, dedication and money.
And of course, I'm a regular repeat donating member of my really excellent local NPR station, WUNC, broadcasting from just down the road.
Why radio, when there is rampant unemployment, hungry people, reproductive rights under fire, unaffordable housing, theatres, symphonies etc. etc. ? I know, there is so much need, and I do donate to these causes throughout the year. But it is frustrating to go from a National Broadcasting System such as my ever-lovin' CBC and watch Americans making great work have to scrimp and scratch and beg over and over in a completely fractured system that is barely functional. Yet, it's a system that I rely on every single day. Every single day! And increasingly I want it to do more for me - more podcasts, more online and hey, I want it to be free. There's some kind of stat out there which I will proceed to butcher that only about 10% of listeners are actual members or donators. We can do better than that. My iPod depends on it.