State Employee Grant Program

“…in the public interest” 2000

 

I.  Executive Summary
II.  Quantitative Research Findings
III. Qualitative Research Findings
IV. Thank You, Broadcasters
V.  Roll The Credits


A FURTHER REPORT ON SERVICE TO OUR COMMUNITIES
FROM YOUR WASHINGTON STATE BROADCASTERS

I.  Executive Summary

“…in the public interest.”  Those words, added to the Communications Act by Washington’s own United States Senator C. C. Dill, form the common commitment of community service among Washington’s free, over-the-air broadcasters, whether they are radio or television stations, large or small, commercial or public, serving communities in Eastern or Western Washington.  Washington’s broadcasters play a vital and active role in the lives of every Washington community, every day.  And we are proud of the good work we do for our neighbors.

During the late Fall of 1999, WSAB and the National Association of Broadcasters conducted a survey of, and interviews with, television and radio stations in Washington to determine the extent of station engagement in public service and community activities.  Five themes emerged from our surveys and interviews:

  • Companies with larger numbers of stations (“clusters”) in a market are better able to reach their audiences and do a more effective job for the charitable organizations they work with.  Stations are using the audience-power of their entire “cluster” for extraordinary results.

  • Each station in the “cluster” retains its own, pre-existing charity connections and promotions.  The clusters are adding new “cluster-wide” community service events, benefiting even more local organizations than when ownership of stations was severely limited.

  • Stations are using the World Wide Web to give additional publicity to their charity events and enhance the effectiveness of their local community charitable promotions.

  • Individual station personalities are developing their own charity or cause to promote in a “signature” fashion, in addition to the charity causes promoted by the station in general.

  • Cause marketing, though still relatively new, has created new opportunities for stations, charities and businesses in the community; allowing stations to provide greater benefits to more charitable causes.

Here’s a snapshot of what we found: 

83% of the commercial TV stations in Washington participated in the survey; 107 of the 191 commercial radio stations (56%) replied.  Overall response rate (radio and TV combined):  59%.

Radio and television stations across Washington raised nearly $14 Million from the Fall of 1998 through the Fall of 1999 for charities, charitable causes or needy individuals.  And that’s just the cash.  It does not include donations of clothing, blankets, food, and other goods and services raised by the stations in their donation drives.

Stations donated more than $31.5 Million worth of airtime for PSAs on topics ranging from drug abuse prevention to the importance of voting.  Other highlights of the survey results include:

  • 93% of Washington television stations and 90% of radio stations helped charities, charitable causes or needy individuals through fund-raising and other types of support.

  • TV stations in Washington typically broadcast approximately 108 Public Service Announcements; radio stations 77 PSAs, in a typical week.

  • Washington radio and television stations raised more than $868,000 in on-air campaigns and activities (both on-air and off-air) to aid victims of a disaster.

  • The leading topics of Public Service Campaigns conducted by Washington broadcasters included:  Children’s health and education issues; hunger and homelessness prevention; crime and violence prevention; and, general fund-raising activities and programs.

  • Hundreds of local community organizations benefited from Washington broadcasters’ community service efforts, including, the United Way, W. A. V. E. (We’re Against Violence Everywhere), Columbia Dive Rescue, the Salvation Army, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Spokane Book Bank, Spokanimal, local food banks, Boys & Girls Clubs, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Food Lifeline, the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, and many, many more.

  • 89% of TV stations and 84% of radio stations ran PSAs addressing alcohol abuse; 93% of TV stations and 90% of radio stations ran PSAs addressing drunk driving.

  • Almost all stations (96% of TV and 89% of radio) appealed to their audiences through PSAs to stop the violence.

Statistics alone cannot tell the whole story of how Washington broadcasters contribute to the quality of life in their communities.  The second part of WSAB’s research program was a series of qualitative interviews with the General Managers and Community Relations Directors of television and radio stations around the state.  The creativity and imagination stations show in responding to the needs of their communities is astonishing:

  • We heard about the many, many stations supporting the Children’s Miracle Network.

  • We discovered a station in Yakima that honors an “Incredible Kid” every week.

  • We found a station that raised $14,000 to help one child who had a rare form of cancer.

  • We learned of a station that schedules 8,760 PSAs (1 per hour, every hour) a year.

The stations have also heard from their viewers and listeners.  We found dozens of compelling, heart-warming accounts of how radio and television stations touch the lives of individuals every day.  Collecting these stories made it clearer than ever that those who live and work in the community truly know best how to serve their communities.

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II.  Quantitative Research Findings

“How Much Washington Broadcasters Do For Their Communities”

Introduction

Broadcasters have a mandate to serve the public interest of the communities in which they operate. Given the diversity of communities in the United States, there is a multitude of needs that could be and are addressed over the public airwaves by broadcasters. Indeed, broadcasters are recognizably in a very unique position - every station in the country is a local station and very much a part of the community it is licensed to serve.

Public affairs activities are an integral part of broadcast stations’ community involvement. Through public affairs activities, stations help increase awareness of issues that affect their audiences. Radio and television broadcasters invest both programming and non-programming time and efforts to educate and involve their communities. Programming activities include, but are not limited to, public service announcements wherein stations donate valuable commercial time for messages alerting the public about health threats and other issues. Stations also produce public affairs programs featuring in-depth discussions of problems and remedies. In addition to these programming efforts, broadcasters initiate or are involved in many activities and community groups aimed at educating and involving their communities.

While the ways in which broadcasters are involved in their communities may seem similar, every local broadcaster’s efforts are different. Public service campaigns undertaken by stations nationwide integrate on-air and off-air efforts. Additionally, since each station cannot address every need of its given community as its top priority, stations each focus on different needs, thus addressing overall the diversity of issues within a community. In any given community, the local broadcasters’ unique responses and approaches to the diversity of issues is also supplemented by major national efforts.

Our state association, in partnership with the National Association of Broadcasters, conducted a survey of television and radio stations in Washington State to determine the extent of station participation in public affairs activities.  A variety of methodologies were employed to reach stations - with mail, fax, and Internet surveys sent out between October and December 1999. The response rate of Washington State broadcasters was 59%, as 19 of the 23 commercial television stations licensed to the state (83%) are represented in the data, as are 107 of the 191 radio stations (56%).

The data were collected, tabulated and analyzed by Public Opinion Strategies, an Alexandria, Virginia-based opinion research firm.

Donating Time and Raising Money

Using mean figures to derive a per-station total, responding Washington State TV stations report running approximately 108 PSAs per week, with radio stations running 77. These figures combine all PSA spot times - from ten seconds or less up to 60 second PSAs. Using the reported rate charged for each of these spot lengths, these PSAs translate into a mean cumulative amount of $385,855 a year per TV station responding, and $119,146 per radio station responding.
 
The cumulative statewide totals based on these data show the total PSA value for Washington State TV stations as $8,874,665 and $22,756,886 for radio stations.

A vast majority of both responding TV stations (93%) and radio stations (90%) say they help charities, charitable causes or needy individuals by fund-raising or offering some other support. The mean amount raised by these TV stations was $545,538, with responding radio stations reporting a mean of $13,565. The projected cumulative amounts for this charitable giving is $11,456,298 for TV stations and $2,333,180 for radio stations who conducted some fundraising during the time period examined.
 
The charitable amount raised by responding TV stations ranged from $5,000 to $6,800,000, with a range among radio stations of $2,000 to $350,000.

Local Sentiments Guide Broadcasters

  • Over a third  (36%) of responding Washington State TV stations and 44% of the radio stations were involved in either on-air campaigns - either through local news broadcasts, PSAs, or public affairs programming - or off-air activities to aid the victims of disasters.
     
    The mean amount of money pledged in these fundraising drives by participating stations was $101,900 per TV station and $634 per radio station. The projected cumulative total raised in these fundraising drives is $815,200 for TV stations and $53,256 for radio stations who conducted some fundraising during the time period examined.
     
     

  • PSAs also focus largely on local issues. Among responding TV stations, respondents say that an average of 61% of PSA time is devoted to local issues; the percentage of PSAs devoted to local issues among responding radio stations was 64%.

 Broadcasters Address Important Topics

  • The following table examines some specific issues and the response by responding stations. As in previous years, broadcasters continue to devote time and resources to addressing important and relevant topics.
     
    Each respondent was asked to respond whether their station aired PSAs, locally produced public affairs programs/segments (not including news broadcasts), or news segments on each of the following topic areas. The numbers here are the percentages of all state TV and radio stations who say they have addressed a particular topic through one of those methods:

Issue

TV

Radio

PSA

PA Program

News Segment

PSA

PA Program

News Segment

AIDS

71%

21%

54%

64%

27%

53%

Alcohol
abuse

89%

18%

50%

84%

46%

56%

Anti-crime

93%

54%

86%

90%

76%

77%

Anti-violence

96%

64%

89%

89%

68%

79%

Drinking
during
pregnancy

57%

4%

29%

44%

19%

35%

Drug use/
abuse

96%

46%

86%

89%

47%

67%

Drunk
driving

93%

18%

86%

90%

57%

76%

Fund
raising drives

86%

50%

82%

94%

69%

83%

Breast
cancer/
other women’s health

75%

43%

71%

89%

58%

53%

Children’s
issues

82%

54%

71%

95%

61%

70%

Adult educ./
literacy

82%

14%

61%

84%

56%

69%

Hunger/
poverty/
homelessness

75%

36%

68%

73%

53%

68%

Promoting Participation

Fully 54% of responding TV stations and 48% of responding radio stations report airing public affairs programs of at least 30 minutes in length.

The leading topics of public service campaigns by Washington State broadcasters in 1998-1999 include children’s health and education issues, hunger and homelessness prevention, crime and violence prevention, blood drives and general fund-raising activities/programs. Specific organizations to benefit from Washington State broadcasters include the United Way, the Children’s Miracle Network and W.A.V.E. (We’re Against Violence Everywhere).

Methodology Notes

Continuing our participation on this project with the National Association of Broadcasters, a number of continued refinements were made from 1997. The changes made included expanding the questionnaire to measure more accurately all PSA values and time lengths, as well as expanding sections dealing with other fundraising activities. Market size and revenue data for stations was also linked to survey data, allowing for more precise weighting and sample procedures. Finally, the scope of the project was expanded to include all commercial broadcast stations in the state.

These changes, combined with higher response rates from many states, have made us much more confident about using mean figures for monies reported on questions related to stations’ contribution to their communities and state. This is different from the 1997 survey, which used median figures to calculate PSA and contribution values at the state level. Median figures were used on these surveys due to disparities in state-by-state response rates and lack of station-by-station demographic information.

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III. Qualitative Research Findings

“Stories of the Extraordinary Service Washington
Broadcasters Give to Their Communities”

Numbers are impressive, but they can never provide the personal impact that Washington radio and television stations have on the quality of life in their local communities every day.  WSAB conducted in-depth interviews with stations across the state, and the result was dozens of stories about how stations devote enormous resources – financial and otherwise – to serve the unique needs of their communities.  Each community’s local needs and circumstances drive Washington broadcasters’ public service efforts.

Broadcasters’ public service is broad and diverse, and much of what they do never makes it onto the airwaves.  Their activities range from helping to provide the most basic human services, such as collecting clothing and canned food for needy families, to keeping kids in school and raising funding for a community playground project.

In between, stations help collect coats and subsistence materials for the homeless, raise money for hundreds of worthy causes and are involved in countless other endeavors, both on and off-the-air.  Although the variety of services provided is staggering, and there is no way to catalogue each and every one in something less than an encyclopedic publication, there is a handful of consistent themes that deserve highlighting.

Children

Foster Kids Holiday Magic (Entercom Radio Group, Seattle).  When the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services needed gifts for the foster children in its care, KIRO Radio in Seattle, and its sister stations KNWX and KQBZ, took the challenge and produced “Foster Kids Holiday Magic.”  In 1999, in a one-week campaign, these stations were able to provide toys and necessities for the more than 8,000 foster children in Washington state.  Each station had a reporter assigned to do a news story every half-hour, from 7 in the morning to 9 at night all week, profiling a child or reading a letter from a child.  Listeners are asked to call the stations’ telephone bank to choose a child to sponsor.  For more than five years, every foster child was sponsored and taken care of through the Foster Kids Holiday Magic program.

Success By Six (KHQ-TV, Spokane).  From the first days of life to the first day of school, a child has a lot to learn.  Since 1995, KHQ-TV in Spokane has had a single focus in its “Success By Six” campaign:  Prepare all children in their community to be ready to learn in school by age 6.  The project features one topic per month, combining promotional announcements, news stories and in-depth reports with printed materials and other ways to reach out to their viewers.  In April, 1999, KHQ-TV distributed 16,000 booklets to parents in their community with guidelines on how to select good childcare.  In September, the station’s mini-telethon raised more than $72,000 for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery…all in just three hours, and on a Saturday morning, no less.  Over half of all food bank clients are children.  KHQ-TV’s Success By Six Food Drive collected over 70,000 pounds of food and $30,000 for Spokane area food banks.

Playground of Dreams (KNDU-TV & New Northwest Broadcasters, Tri-Cities).  The citizens of the Tri-Cities wanted to create a special playground in Columbia Park and they turned to their radio and television stations to get the job done.  KNDU-TV and the radio stations of New Northwest Broadcasting teamed up to solicit materials and volunteer labor.  The stations did news stories and remote broadcasts from Columbia Park.  KNDU-TV employees felt so strongly about the project that they produced, on their own time, a half-hour community service special that was broadcast three separate times.  The New Northwest radio stations’ morning disk jockeys did remote broadcasts every week, profiling the goals of the playground and updating the progress of construction.  The entire promotion was so successful that the stations raised more money than was needed and enlisted so many volunteers that the project was finished ahead of schedule.

Child Abuse Prevention Day (KXLY Broadcast Group, Spokane). All too often, we are reminded of the child abuse and neglect in our communities.  The resources of the entire KXLY Broadcast Group in Spokane were dedicated to helping prevent child abuse and neglect by creating Spokane’s “Child Abuse Awareness Day.”  For a full broadcast day, the KXLY Broadcast Group’s Spokane TV and seven radio stations do nothing but raise funds and awareness for prevention of child abuse.  As they say in the business, this project “owns” the stations for that day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The stations get all of their disk jockeys involved with live cut-ins and phone banks operating.  All of the news programming is devoted to stories related to child abuse issues and asking people to call-in and pledge donations.  The goal of Child Abuse Prevention Day is to raise $30,000 annually to benefit the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, the Children’s Home Society of Washington and a local organization, SCAN.

Incredible Kid of the Week (New Northwest Broadcasters, Yakima).  When they realized that they were hearing too much about “bad” kids and not enough about all the great kids in Yakima, KARY-FM decided to do something about it.  The station honors an “Incredible Kid of the Week” to let its listeners know they have a great bunch of kids in Yakima.  KARY asks its listeners to nominate an “incredible kid” for each week’s award.  It might be a youngster involved in a disaster with a heroic effort, a disabled child coping the best he or she can.  One mother wrote in to nominate her daughter, who had become a pregnant teen, because her mother was proud of how her daughter handled the entire situation.  Each Incredible Kid of the Week gets a tee-shirt and a prize package.  But best of all, they get their name announced on their favorite radio station for an entire week.

Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs (KOMO-TV, Seattle).  Everyone loved Seattle School Superintendent John Stanford, and the community was devastated when he died of cancer.  When KOMO-TV wanted to perpetuate John’s special way with children, they had to look no farther than their own staff.  John’s son, Scott, worked for KOMO-TV.  Together, Scott Stanford and KOMO-TV created a project to develop mentors for youth through the Seattle area Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs.  The station broadcast a series of PSAs featuring Scott and KOMO-TV anchor Kathy Goertzen.  Then KOMO-TV set up a mini-telethon.  Every night for a week, on the station’s 5 o’clock and 6:30 p.m. newscasts reporter Connie Thompson would do a news story on the mentoring project and report from the phone bank, urging viewers to call in and volunteer as a mentor.  During that week, the Boys & Girls Clubs received calls from 168 people who volunteered to be a mentor, with calls filtering in for days afterward, as well.

YWCA Homeless School (KREM-TV, Spokane).  Homeless children fall farther and farther behind because they don’t have a regular school to attend.  Spokane’s YWCA has created a learning environment where homeless children can keep up with their lessons.  KREM-TV in Spokane answered the call from the “Y” for help in keeping homeless kids clothed for school.  The station and its news anchors produced and broadcast a series of PSAs asking for donations of usable clothing.  By the end of the two to three week campaign, the “Y” was able to give clothing to every youngster who was attending the homeless school; and, not just a shirt or pair of pants, but complete outfits that had been donated.

Donation Drives 

Thanksgiving Turkey & Food Drive (AM/FM, Inc., Spokane).  When 2,700 families have been out on strike at a major employer for more than a year, it puts a tremendous strain on the food banks at holiday time.  Not only are people who usually donate to the food bank unable to do so; but, they become reliant on the food bank, themselves.  KNFR-FM in Spokane came to the rescue of the Salvation Army Food Bank when things looked bleak.  They created a partnership with Yoke’s Pack “N” Save grocery stores to provide a full Thanksgiving turkey dinner for those in need.  For six weeks, they told KNFR listeners to pick up a couple of extra Thanksgiving dinner “trimmings” when shopping and drop them in the donation barrels.  The station did remote broadcasts and sold their station tee-shirts, with all the proceeds going to the food drive.  They collected more than $1,000 in cash donations and tons and tons of food.  KNFR became known in Spokane as “The Turkey Drive Station.”

Celebrity Bell-Ringing Day (KOMO-TV, Seattle).  In the middle of football season, how hard would it be to get University of Washington Husky coach Rick Neuheisel and Seattle Seahawk coach Mike Holmgren to take a ‘time out” to do a charity PSA?  Only a short time prior to the Salvation Army’s Celebrity Bell Ringing Day, no media promotion plans had been made, nobody knew that the big day was coming up soon.  KOMO-TV sprang into action and, almost overnight, got the coaches together for the first time, ever, to promote the event.  A mere three weeks later, the Salvation Army’s Celebrity Bell Ringers raised $95,000, thanks to the generosity of Coaches Holmgren and Neuheisel, and the dedication of KOMO-TV to community service.

10,000 Coats 4 Kids (KXLY-TV, Spokane).  Broadcasters don’t turn their backs on those in need; and there’s no one more in need than a cold child in Winter.  Last year, KXLY-TV in Spokane generated donations of more than 10,800 usable coats to keep needy kids in Spokane warm.  KXLY-TV supported the campaign with news stories designed to encourage viewers to donate coats; the daily “coat count” was reported in the evening newscast and live remotes from collection points were broadcast, as well.  But urging viewers to donate is only part of what the station does.  It also arranges to have the coats cleaned and then delivered to area community centers where children and their parents can go to pick out a warm coat.

Champions For Charity (KXDD-FM, Yakima).  Just giving a charity exposure on top rated KXDD-FM in Yakima didn’t seem to be enough, so the station created its “Champions For Charity.”  Each month, the station selects a different charity every month and provides a month-long, comprehensive campaign designed to raise awareness about the charity and its needs, and raise money or other donations, as well.  In addition, the station’s logo wear is sold at all of the station’s remote broadcasts and other events, with the station donating all of the proceeds from those sales to the Charity of the Month.  The Children’s Miracle Network has been a beneficiary of the Champions for Charity campaign, as have the American Cancer Society, Camp Primetime and the American Lung Association.

94 Hours For Food Drive (KDRK-FM, Spokane).  More and more, individual radio personalities want to feature a charity that they can call their own, in addition to the community efforts the station undertakes as a whole.  The morning team on KDRK-FM, in Spokane is no different.  The Spokane Food Bank is the beneficiary of their tom-foolery.  Imagine being stuck in an RV for 94 hours (that’s four days) in a city park.  The station parks a big semi-trailer right next to the RV and the KDRK morning team stays there and broadcasts around the clock until that semi is full. This year, the station raised over 11,000 pounds of food and thousands of dollars in cash.

Offering a Helping Hand

Tools For Schools (KIRO-TV, Seattle).  Often, stations don’t get the kind of credit they deserve for their involvement with the community because it doesn’t make a big splash on-the-air.  KIRO-TV in Seattle saw that individual classroom teachers needed better tools to teach effectively.  But, instead of asking for donations, they asked the classroom teachers to make requests for grants of $1,000.  In 1999, 34 classrooms received grants and the results were spectacular.  Then, KIRO-TV went into those classrooms, after the grant project was up and running, and produced a profile of the teacher and students, showing what they accomplished with their grant.  Every year, in June, KIRO-TV produces a half-hour education special that ties into the “Tools for Schools” campaign.

KGMI For Kids Campaign (KGMI, Bellingham).  Every year, KGMI in Bellingham creates three, $10,000 advertising campaigns for local charitable organizations.  That amounts to approximately 5 announcements every weekday for three months.  The charities are treated as though they were regular advertisers and all the care and work that goes into such a substantial campaign is devoted to those charities’ programs.  The charities have a $10,000 advertising campaign at their disposal to promote awareness of the charity, ask for donations, seek volunteers or broadcast whatever message best suits their needs.  The KGMI for Kids Campaign has benefited the Bellingham Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs, nonprofit organizations that provide computers for kids, the Royal Family Kids Camp and other Bellingham area organizations.

Kent & Alan’s Wednesday/Holiday Wishes (KPLZ, Seattle).  Kent & Alan, the morning team at KPLZ in Seattle, grant their listeners’ wishes.  Every Wednesday, they choose from among hundreds of nominees, someone who’s in need or experiencing a difficult time.  One Wednesday Wish was granted to a woman who had just been diagnosed with cancer.  KPLZ arranged a day at a spa and Kent & Alan called her, and the friend who nominated her, on-the-air to grant her wish.  When the holiday season rolls around, Kent & Alan grant “Holiday Wishes” every day throughout the holidays.  Wednesday and Holiday Wishes make one person’s life a little better.

Pete Gross House (KIRO Radio, Seattle).  KIRO Radio in Seattle is the home of the Seattle Seahawks.  Pete Gross, the original Seahawk play-by-play announcer was struck down with cancer in 1994.  KIRO’s tribute to Pete was to lead a drive to construct Pete Gross House at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.  Pete Gross House gives families of cancer victims a place to stay while their family member is being treated at the Hutch.  Through a combination of banquets and other fund raising drives, KIRO teamed up with the Seahawks to raise a Million dollars to build Pete Gross House.  The project evolved from a four-unit building to a 72-unit apartment complex.  Now, KIRO will raise funds for the costs of operating Pete Gross House.

Enhancing the Quality of Life in Our Communities

Valley Creek Estuary (KONP Radio, Port Angeles).  Opening up a creek that had been culverted for more than 40 years and creating a new estuary with salmon and waterfowl habitat are just in a day’s work for the owners and staff at KONP in Port Angeles.  The station’s support rallied the entire community to develop this new, attractive natural buffer between downtown and the industrial area.  KONP dedicated an entire day to the Valley Creek Estuary.  Service clubs, such as the Soroptomists, donated dozens of prizes that were auctioned off during the day, raising more than $26,000; and, it raised something else:  Awareness of the project, drawing in even more supporters.  The project even enhanced Port Angeles’ economic development by allowing a local plywood plant to expand and add more employees.

“I pledge allegiance…” (KVI, Seattle).  Every day, KVI does the Pledge of Allegiance on the air.  The station goes out to local schools or has scout troops and other youth organizations tape the Pledge and send it in.  It’s the kids who get to hear themselves on KVI saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  It makes quite a statement at the beginning of the day.

Bringing Civic Celebrations Home (KIRO-TV, Seattle).  KIRO-TV is Seattle’s “Seafair” station.  Every Summer, KIRO-TV produces several dozen PSAs that promote the community events of Seattle’s civic celebration, Seafair.  From the children’s Milk Carton Derby to the Japanese community’s Bon Odori; from the Torchlight Parade to the Wallingford Kiddies’ Parade; from Hispanic Seafair to the hydroplane race, KIRO-TV promotes awareness and participation for all of Seafair’s events.  The station provides full coverage of the Torchlight Parade and unlimited hydroplane race, including the Blue Angels.  KIRO-TV’s involvement with Seafair includes providing all of the announcement and broadcast production for the events and bringing Seattle’s unique Summer celebration into the homes of everyone in the community.

Parent Network Guide (KLXY-TV, Spokane).  When a KXLY-TV staffer remembered that as a child she used to call home to tell her mother she was staying overnight with a friend, but that now, parents don’t even know who those people are or where they live, the station fought back with its “Parent Network Guide.”  This eight-page pamphlet, produced in cooperation with the Spokane Public Schools, the Prosecuting Attorney’s office and Volunteers of America, offers parents great ideas about setting up networking contacts and sharing information.  The Volunteers of America have been instrumental in distributing thousands of KXLY-TV’s Parent Networking Guides through the Spokane Public Schools and other agencies.  The Guide asks:  “How Do I Begin?”  The answer, the Guide says, is:  “Pick up the phone!”  Parents all over Spokane are connecting with each other because of KXLY-TV.

When Disaster Strikes

A Pipeline Explosion Tunes The Community to its Radio Stations (Saga Communications, Bellingham).  When a gas pipeline exploded near Bellingham, sending a ball of flaming gasoline into a creek and through a park, KGMI and its sister stations KISM and KAFE became “command central.”  The station suspended all programming on KGMI and began continuous coverage of the disaster.  Reporters brought in stories from the scene and relayed information from authorities from the time of the explosion at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon until well after 10 o’clock that evening.  The station was receiving calls from concerned citizens, even outside Whatcom County, so they quickly suspended all programming on their FM sister stations, KISM and KAFE, and began simulcasting the news and information being broadcast on KGMI.  As a result coverage was beamed to more than seven counties.  The stations broadcast reports of pools of gas and other potential hazardous situations and periodic updates from police and fire officials.  The staff was on the air for almost 12 hours straight by the time the story was over, but the citizens of Northwest Washington had the full story.  After the disaster, Saga Communications’ stations helped the community heal by spearheading a fund drive for the families of the youngsters who were killed in the explosion.

The KIRO-TV Relief Fund (KIRO-TV, Seattle).  KIRO-TV’s theme, “The Spirit of the Northwest” exemplifies the giving nature of Northwesterners.  It’s not just need on our doorstep that moves us to action.  The station has established an on-going effort called the KIRO-TV Relief Fund.  Anytime there is a disaster, the station is ready to activate the KIRO-TV Relief Fund to assist those in need, anywhere in the world.  PSAs and news stories bring the need home and urge viewers to call and make donations or become involved.  Relief efforts in Kosovo, and after the devastating flooding in Venezuela and the disaster Honduras, were supplemented by KIRO-TV’s on-air promotion of the Relief Fund.  It’s not always money that’s needed.  KIRO-TV has assisted Northwest Medical Teams in gathering donations of equipment and other supplies that they need when they undertake mercy missions to far corners of the globe.  And it allows those at home to feel they’ve played a role in easing misery far away.

Above & Beyond the Call of Duty

  Station Employees Make A Difference in Their Community (KAPP-TV, Yakima).  Stations embrace their communities even when publicity is not included.  KAPP-TV’s employees volunteer their own time for a wide variety of community organizations.  The breadth and depth of their commitment is inspiring:  Visiting an AIDS patient every week; walking to raise money for cancer research; tutoring kids who are below grade level in reading; reading to kids at a clinic.  One employee is a volunteer interpreter at a Yakima hospital to help the staff provide better care to Spanish-speaking patients.  There is a Junior Achievement volunteer and an employee who is on the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors.  KAPP-TV news anchors volunteer their time as hosts of charity auctions.  Another hosts Rotary Exchange Students; one helps 14 to 15 year-old boys take part in a community service project each month.  Giving back to the community is a part of the work ethic at KAPP-TV in Yakima, both on-the-air and off.

Altrusa (KIMA-TV, Yakima).  When Karla Griffin and Angela Dotson of Yakima’s KIMA-TV discovered that the Altrusa organization knew nothing about how to get their public service message out to the media, they quickly organized a comprehensive media education presentation for the Altrusa organization’s regional convention.  They created a full-scale presentation on public service announcements.  They explained the production process and suggested the most usable formats for spot announcements.  Karla and Angela offered tips on who to contact at the station to ensure the best chance of getting the message on the air and the critical nature of the timing of requests.  The convention session also included representatives from radio and the print media, explaining how they work with nonprofit organizations to get their messages to the public.  Karla and Angela’s public service publicity “show and tell” was a highlight of the convention.

Committed to Service Awards (New Northwest Broadcasters, Yakima).  Each of the six New Northwest Broadcasters’ radio stations in Yakima selects someone they deem “Committed to Service” every month.  It is a company-wide effort that promotes civic commitment and action by people to make their community better.  Individuals who have done something heroic or just lent a helping hand; students or student athletes who have achieved something remarkable in their community.  Six times a month, once on each station, the recipient is invited into the studio along with the person who nominated them.  The station’s general manager makes the presentation of a beautiful plaque and gifts from the station.  The Committed to Service Awards is New Northwest Broadcasters’ way of saying that they are committed to promoting the positive things people do in their community.

Engaging the Community on Public Issues

Tuning In To The Community (KIRO Radio, Seattle).  KIRO Radio in Seattle is always looking for ways to bring community leaders to their listeners and their listeners to community leaders.  Their talk-show format is the perfect vehicle for community involvement.  Seattle’s Police Chief has his own show, once a month, to field questions from the listeners and talk about what the Department is doing in the community.  KIRO takes advantage of regular hosts’ vacations to provide a forum for discussion of current issues by a variety of community leaders.  Former Washington Governor Mike Lowry has been a substitute host.  Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders was a regular and State Senator Pam Roach is a recurring substitute host.  KIRO Radio’s mission is to be Seattle’s community forum and the station reaches out to the community and its leaders every day.

We’re Talking Salmon (KIRO-TV, Seattle).  Salmon fishing is big business, great sport and an issue of concern in Washington state.  In 1999, as soon as a bill was introduced in the Washington Legislature that would have made significant changes in laws dealing with salmon habitat, KIRO-TV partnered with the Washington Forest Protection Association to produce a half-hour special focusing their viewers attention on the issue of salmon.  The special discussed what effect the proposed legislation would have on the many individuals involved in the salmon issue and what the public could do to help save the salmon.  KIRO-TV also broadcast public service announcements and vignettes about the salmon issue to further help their viewers make informed decisions on this critical issue.

Initiative 695:  Helping Viewers Understand (KING-TV, Seattle).  When KING-TV reporters discovered that the citizens they talked to were confused about the effect of Initiative 695, they decided that their viewers had a right to an explanation.  Without taking sides, KING-TV produced a thirty-minute, prime-time, special designed to untangle the intricacies of I-695.  The program allowed both advocates and opponents to present their cases and the station did its own research and presented its findings, as well.  Citizens were interviewed and their questions sparked still further debate during the program.

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IV. Thank You, Broadcasters

“The Voices of the Citizens of Washington “

Washington’s broadcasters are immensely proud of the community service they perform every day, benefiting the 5.5 Million people of the state of Washington.  We thought you might be interested in hearing what people from our own communities have to say about the impact broadcasters have had on their lives.

The following is just a small sample of the many, many letters, phone calls, faxes, e-mails, in-person comments and other expressions of appreciation received by Washington broadcasters every day.

It’s the only true measure of our success in being full-service members of our communities.

And it is a great honor to receive.

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V.  Roll The Credits 

Our short Report could not begin to include all of the heart-warming stories of assistance that would not happen without the deep commitment to community service of the hundreds of broadcasters throughout Washington.  We urge you to contact your local broadcasters to get more details on the many activities they support and promote that make the quality of life in your community better.  And, please join WSAB in thanking the people who made this edition of “…in the public interest” possible.

 Bellingham

  • Rick Staeb, General Manager, Saga Communications (KGMI, KISM, KAFE, KPUG, KIXT) 

Port Angeles

  • Terry MacDonald, Owner, KONP & KIKN Radio

Seattle

  • Arik Korman, Executive Producer Entercom Radio Group (KIRO Radio, KNWX, KQBZ):

  • Jennifer Pirak, Promotion Director; Darren Reynolds, Asst. Program Director; Alyson Soma, Event Marketing Director Fisher Radio Seattle (KOMO Radio, KVI, KPLZ)

  • Maria Margaris, Operations Manager, KIRO-TV

  • Jimm Brown, Manager of Community Relations, KOMO-TV

  • Teresa Woon, Public Service Director KTWB-TV

Spokane

  • Ray Edwards, Operations Manager Citadel Communications Corp., (KAEP, KDRK, KEYF, KGA, KJRB)

  • Louise Hanson, Community Affairs Manager, KHQ-TV

  • Stacy Harkus, Public Affairs Producer, KREM-TV

  • Kirstin Votava, Community Partnership Coordinator, KXLY Broadcast Group (KXLY-AM, FM, TV, KZZU, KEZE, KXLI)

Tri-Cities

  • Dave Dalthorp, Station Manager, KNDU-TV

  • John McGann, Operations Director New Northwest Broadcasters, (KALE, KEGX, KIOK, KNLT, KTCR)

  • Greg Martin, Program Director, KONA-AM/FM

Yakima

  • Karla Griffin, Operations Manager; Angela Dotson, Public Service Director, KIMA-TV

  • Catherine Schwindt, Operations Manager, KAPP-TV

  • Brian Stephenson, Program Director, New Northwest Broadcasters (KARY, KBBO, KHHK, KJOX, KRSE, KXDD)


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