WEKU-FM, the public radio service of Eastern Kentucky University, surpassed its goal during its recent on-air fund drive.
The station received more than $94,000 in contributions, pledges and installments during the week-long event, well ahead of its goal of $75,000. It was the station’s best on-air drive in more than a decade and “most likely ever,” according to Station Manager Roger Duvall.
Duvall attributed the success, among other factors, to a larger listening audience, including a 57 percent increase for the “All Things Considered” program.
“As other forms of media have increasingly moved toward more sensational aspects of the news, more people have discovered or at least put more value into the type of thoughtful, fact-based reporting in public media,” he said. “In this election year, listeners more than ever are looking for and spending time with sources that don’t sensationalize the news but ones that concentrate on reporting facts and telling human stories.”
Duvall credited Program Director John Hingsbergen and the station’s on-air and programming staff. He cited the addition of Cheri Lawson, who brought to WEKU considerable experience in the greater Cincinnati market, as well as the station’s partnership with Appleby Arganbright in Minnesota “to make our individual gift fundraising as efficient as it can be.”
The station heard from more than 600 contributors during the on-air portion of its drive. Additionally, approximately 200 more gave to the challenge fund through renewals and pre-drive donations. Financial support for WEKU programming comes from listeners, businesses and organizations in its coverage area; from EKU; and from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
“Any dollar we raise now we won’t have to raise later,” Duvall said, “and it all will be put back into making the operation better. Barring any major news developments following the election, the news cycle trends slower so, in order to stay on track for our fiscal year-end goals, we had to make the most of the end of this current election cycle, and our listeners responded like never before.”
With studios in the Perkins Building on EKU’s Richmond campus, WEKU airs programs produced by its staff, as well as nationally syndicated shows from National Public Radio, Public Radio International and other producers. Its news department has a long tradition of covering important issues affecting central and southeastern Kentucky, and the team has also garnered recognition from the Associated Press, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Radio News Directors Inc. and others for its in-depth reports on a wide range of subjects.
WEKU reaches most of central and southeastern Kentucky through WEKU (88.9 FM in Richmond-Lexington), WEKH (90.9 FM in Hazard), WEKF (88.5 FM in Corbin) and WEKP (90.1 FM in Pineville) along with 106.7 in Frankfort, 96.9 in Barbourville, 96.3 in Harlan, 102.5 in Middlesboro and 95.1 in Pikeville. WEKU also operates a Classic 102.1 – a classical music and classic jazz station in Lawrenceburg serving greater Lexington and Frankfort.
The latest industry figures indicate that WEKU reaches 55,000-60,000 listeners each week.
“Given that only about 3,000 of those actually contribute,” Duvall said, “we can always use more money. Ideally, everyone who listens should give a little. We should not have to rely on the 5 percent of our listeners for the funding we need to keep the NPR programming on the air. We always see our goals as the minimum we need to operate, so we’re continuing to encourage folks who have yet to give to do so.”