Eastern Michigan University’s public broadcasting service, WEMU held its annual pledge drive to raise money for continued operation on Wednesday, Sep. 13 and Thursday, Sep. 14 at King Hall’s Studio A.
The station receives donations from the community, university donors, and the listeners and all donations could be done in person, by phone or on their website. Volunteers in attendance were served refreshments.
The station has an 8-day goal of $220,000 and $750,000 for the entire year. Seventy percent of WEMU’s budget comes from the pledge drive corporate support, and the audience. They host two or three pledge drives per year and by mail. Volunteers can donate any amount that they choose. You can get a prize based on the amount you donate. All donations are tax deductible. Each prize is 10 percent of the pledge total. If you donate $200 then you can get a $20 T-shirt as a thank you gift.
This year’s pledge drive is in celebration of the upcoming retirement of music director, Linda Yohn who is responsible for building WEMU’s jazz and blues program. Yohn joined WEMU in 1987. From her work with record labels and recording artists, Yohn helped build WEMU’s music library to a collection of over 100,000 tracks. This makes WEMU’s library one of the biggest in the world.
Yohn said that the trust that listeners put in the station and their desire for an honest broadcast is what she loved the most about working at the station.
“I love the listeners, I love making people’s day better !!,” she said. “We play music that reflects what is going on in the world. People like if you put some thought into the playlist. When you are serving an audience like this who work in hospitals and educators, you have to give them your best and they will respond. Give them something they can relate to. You hear the passion and intelligence.”
Yohn has won many prestigious awards such as the National Jazz Programmer of the Year award, Duke Dubois Jazz Humanitarian award, Willis Conover/Martin McPartland Award for Jazz Journalism from the Jazz Journalists Association and National Jazz Presenter of the Year. If listeners donate a pledge of $400 they can receive two tickets to attend Yohn’s farewell party on Dec. 18, 2017 at The Ark in Ann Arbor.
The station has a weekly audience of 65,000 and received donations from all over the world such as England, Singapore and the Philippines.
Molly Motherwell, WEMU general manager, enjoys the relationship that the stations have built with listeners and said that it has helped them get more donations.
“I love knowing that we have made a connection to the point where they want to give you their money. When they feel that you are worthy of support and they care so much about our success, it’s the best feeling in the world,” she said.
Motherwell said that student involvement with the station has been overwhelmingly positive. They get involvement from many student organizations such as sports teams and sororities. Many students who get involved usually return because they enjoy it. Students can sign up for internship and non-internship jobs at wemu.org and volunteer to answer phones in the pledge drive.