I am not much for Valentine’s Day, as my partner Michelle or any of my exes will tell you for sure. I’m not exactly sure why. I love Love. I even enjoy a sappy movie, or love story, or song. However, “the day” itself seems a bit overwrought, like some evil genius plot to keep us from showing our love for each other the rest of the year, or sell more chocolate.
This is not a post about Valentine’s Day. In fact, I’ve said too much about it already. This is a post about my favorite time of year. The annual winter pledge drive for our local National Public Radio station: WHYY. Right here, in the deepest, darkest, most unforgiving weather of the year, we interrupt our regular programming to be forced to listen to our normally newsy talking heads wax eloquent about their employer.
There’s a hint of tongue in cheek here, but in all seriousness, I do like the annual (or more semi-annual these days) pledge drive. For one thing, I love hearing how people “sell” their service. It must be a weird thing, to have to come directly to consumers and ask for their support; to find a way to fill 3-5 minutes out of every 20 or so, letting us know why the thing they do is worth my money. They also have to keep people (even people like me who enjoy it) from turning the station to any number of choices we have up and down the dial.
So, I bite. I listen in to hear what they are going to say. I laugh when they get tied up in the back and forth with their on-air partners. It jars me when they leave a particularly moving or wildly interesting story to just up and ask me for money. But, here’s the truth: I take notes. I stay in the parking lot and I listen to what they are saying, to all of the background noises that indicate when someone has made a significant pledge or pledged on-line. I try to figure out if people are giving because of what they are hearing in the shows, or if there is something in the host’s plea that drives them, or maybe it’s the thank-you gifts (seriously, WHYY is giving away a chance at Hamilton tickets and that is sure to drive up interest.)
It has become my job to ask people for money and I would love a radio platform to do so! I said earlier that this would not be a post about Valentine’s Day and it isn’t, but it is about Love. That’s the secret I’ve learned by listening to the Pledge Drive. Every host drives home the reasons for giving, but the best hosts remind you about why you love to listen. When I share about Yes! And… Collaborative Arts, I try to echo their method: give because you love the work we do and the impact we are making on kid’s lives. Love should drive you to support us because the work we are doing is grounded in that same love.
This year we are celebrating 10 years of one of our most beloved programs: the Winter Sort of Thing. It was the brainchild of many of our founders and our mentor, Mark Hallen. After Mark passed away a few years ago, we decided to make sure that, in his memory, this program would continue. How about you join us? Give a gift today in honor of love. Give a gift to make sure that we can continue to be a presence of love in these kids’ lives.
Come and see our 10th Anniversary Celebration of Winter Sort of Thing (tickets here). See the outpouring of Love that takes place on the stage – the fruits of the seeds of love that we have been planting for many many years. Consider this invitation my Valentine to you!