State Employee Grant Program

“…in the public interest” 2004

 

I.  Executive Summary
II. Quantitative Research Findings
III.
Qualitative Research Findings


A Report on Service to Our Communities from the Broadcasters of Washington State - March 2004

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.

The Washington State Association of Broadcasters and the National Association of Broadcasters have just completed 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 during calendar year 2003.

86% of Washington’s commercial TV stations participated in the survey; and, 116 of the 194 commercial radio stations (60%) replied. The overall response rate (radio and TV combined) was 62%. Here’s a snapshot of what we found:

  • Radio and television stations across Washington raised more than $20.3 Million during 2003 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.
  • An average of 57% of TV PSA time is devoted to local issues; for radio, 69% of PSA time is locally oriented.
  • 80% of Washington television stations and all responding radio stations helped charities, charitable causes or needy individuals through fund-raising and other types of support.
  • TV stations in Washington typically broadcast approximately 129 Public Service Announcements; radio stations 264 PSAs, in a typical week.
  • The cumulative statewide totals based on the reported rate charged for commercial spots of similar length based on these data show the total PSA value for Washington stations during 2003 was more than $20.7 Million for TV stations and more than $166.3 Million for radio stations..
  • The leading topics of Public Service Campaigns conducted by Washington broadcasters included: Health issues; poverty, hunger, homeless issues; health issues; and, children’s issues.
  • Hundreds of local community organizations benefited from Washington broadcasters’ community service efforts, including the United Way, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, the Children’s Miracle Network, Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Northwest Harvest, Boys & Girls Clubs, Salvation Army, Mid-Columbia Reading Foundation, Puget Sound Blood Center, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, the Alzheimer’s Association, Children’s Home Society of Washington, libraries, Second Harvest, YWCA, Habitat for Humanity, and many, many more.
  • 95% of TV stations and 87% of radio stations ran PSAs addressing children’s issues;
  • 80% of TV stations and 83% of radio stations ran PSAs addressing drunk driving;
  • 95% of TV stations and 88% of radio stations ran PSAs addressing violence;
  • 75% of TV stations and 88% of radio stations ran PSAs addressing drug abuse; and,
  • 70% of TV stations and 68% of radio stations ran PSAs addressing homeland security issues.

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 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 discovered that nearly every station has made tremendous efforts to support America’s Armed Forces personnel abroad, focusing on troops from their own communities.
  • We found a market in which every station has joined in a community-wide effort to revitalize their town.
  • We encountered a major market which holds monthly meetings to ascertain the needs of its community, and other stations that ascertain their community’s needs in unique and effective ways.

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.

It is those stories that follow.

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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 which 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.

The Washington State Association of Broadcasters, 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 January and April 2004. The response rate of Washington State broadcasters was 62%, as 18 of the 21 commercial television stations licensed to the state (86%) are represented in the data, as are 116 of the 194 radio stations (60%).

The census revealed that Washington State radio and television stations contributed approximately 227 million dollars worth of service to their communities during 2003. The data were collected, tabulated and analyzed by Public Opinion Strategies, an Alexandria, Virginia-based opinion research firm.

Donating Time, Raising Money, and Responding to Community Needs

  • Using mean figures to derive a per-station total, responding Washington State TV stations report running approximately 129 PSAs per week, with radio stations running 264. 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 $985,764 a year per TV station responding, and $857,376 per radio station responding.

The cumulative statewide totals based on these data show the total PSA value for Washington State TV stations as $20,701,044 and $166,330,944 for radio stations.

  • A vast majority of responding TV stations (80%) and all responding radio stations (100%) 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 $1,210,000, with responding radio stations reporting a mean of $101,836. The projected cumulative amounts for this charitable giving is $20,328,000 for TV stations and $19,756,184 for radio stations who conducted some fundraising during the time period examined.

The charitable amount raised by responding TV stations ranged from $20,000 to $10,900,000, with a range among radio stations of $300 to $1,875,000. Broadcasters in Washington state also reported raising over $300,000 in direct contributions or pledges related to disaster relief during 2003.

  • Almost four-in-ten (39%) of responding Washington State radio stations and 26% of the television 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.
  • PSAs also focus largely on local issues. Among responding TV stations, respondents say that an average of 57% of PSA time is devoted to local issues; the percentage of PSAs devoted to local issues among responding radio stations was 69%.

Broadcasters Addressing 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

50%

10%

65%

50%

29%

56%

Alcohol
abuse

80%

20%

70%

73%

36%

62%

Adult educ./literacy

70%

20%

65%

78%

45%

68%

Anti-crime

90%

20%

75%

82%

53%

72%

Anti-smoking

55%

25%

60%

76%

34%

62%

Anti-violence

95%

25%

75%

88%

47%

71%

Breast
cancer/
other women’s health

85%

30%

70%

87%

42%

68%

Children’s
issues

95%

40%

75%

87%

54%

66%

Drinking during pregnancy

10%

5%

30%

21%

25%

47%

Drunk driving

80%

15%

70%

83%

47%

70%

Drug use/abuse

75%

30%

60%

88%

48%

66%

Homeland security issues
70%
20%
70%
68%
48%
65%

Hunger/poverty/
homelessness

90%
50%
70%
90%
51%
68%

Fund raising drives

80%

30%

65%

94%

63%

66%


Promoting Participation

  • Fully 37% of responding TV stations and 44% 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 2003 included poverty/hunger/homelessness issues, charitable fundraising, children’s issues, and health issues. Some primary recipients included the United Way, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, Children’s Miracle Network, and the Northwest Harvest Food Bank.


Methodology Notes

Continuing our participation on this project with the National Association of Broadcasters, a number of continued refinements were made from 2001, including the addition of issues such as anti-smoking and homeland security matters as possible topics for news segments, public affairs programming, and PSAs. Market size and revenue data for stations was linked to survey data, allowing for more precise weighting and sample procedures.

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III. Qualitative Research Findings

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

Here is a mere sampling of what Washington’s local radio and television stations are doing for their communities day in and day out.

Supporting Our Troops

“Even in these tough economic times, people find ways to continue to give. It’s heartwarming and proves that all news isn’t bad.” John Sharify, The People Helper, KOMO-TV, Seattle.

Soldiers & Their Families Face to Face. When KXLY-TV, Spokane was offered the opportunity to send an embedded reporter to Iraq, the station didn’t think twice. KXLY-TV took advantage of the video phone their reporter carried to bring local troops into direct contact with their families. They brought the soldier’s family into the KXLY-TV studio so they could see, hear and talk with their loved one half a world away.

Providing Some R & R. New Northwest Broadcasters in Tri-Cities got a call from one of their advertising clients, a musical instrument store, asking if the station could help send a guitar to local soldiers who were stationed in Iraq. The station mobilized its staff contacts and went on the air to help the cause. The station did live remote broadcasts from the store, and before they were through, they had not only a guitar, but an entire band kit, including a lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, cables, amps, mic stands, speakers; everything needed to outfit an entire band; approximately $6,000 worth of equipment and the funding to send it all over to Iraq, as well.

Everybody Loves Cookies from Home. All three of Fisher Broadcasting’s radio stations in Seattle teamed up with the USO to pull off the “Great Cookie Drop” to let its listeners show their support for the troops in Iraq. Through a series of remote broadcasts throughout the Puget Sound area, Fisher Radio Seattle collected nearly 70,000 Girl Scout Cookies for delivery to American troops abroad. Listeners wrote messages of encouragement to the soldiers on the cookie boxes, as well. The cookies filled three vans and a large rental truck, which were delivered to the USO at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Because of the enormous response from Girl Scout Troops and other listeners, the cookies were sent by the USO to soldiers all over the world. Even one of the station employees’ sons stationed overseas got a box of the cookies.

Operation Uplink. KAYU-TV in Spokane was looking for a way to let its viewers feel that they could participate in supporting the troops by giving them a way to call home. The station found it in a partnership with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Together they created a program in which local soldiers would be given a long distance phone card when they deployed to the Middle East. For eight weeks after the Iraq war began, the station asked viewers to donate money to fund the purchase of the cards. Sister stations KCYU-TV in Yakima and KFFX-TV in Tri-Cities promoted Operation Uplink in their communities, as well.

The Wall of Heroes. KHQ-TV, Spokane, asked their viewers to bring pictures of their family members and friends who were serving America in Iraq. The station mounted the dozens and dozens of pictures on the Wall of Heroes and put it on display in Riverfront Park, site of the 1974 Spokane World’s Fair. KHQ-TV used its newscasts to encourage Spokane viewers to visit the wall and find out more about the many community members who were serving their country.

Viet Nam Veterans Moving Wall. Veterans in the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington wanted to bring the Viet Nam Veterans Moving Wall to town. It’s half the size of the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, D. C. and the veterans needed to raise $100,000 for the Wall to visit the Tri-Cities. KONA Radio and KNDU-TV pitched in airtime to ask for donations. With the successful fundraising drive behind them, KONA broadcast the opening ceremonies live. It was incredibly emotional with the playing of Taps and thousands of Viet Nam veterans coming from all over the Northwest. The Wall left the Tri-Cities on Veteran’s Day, and KONA broadcast the commemorative parade live, as well.

Pillowcase Brigade. What could be more comforting to a child whose parent is half a world away, in a war the child doesn’t understand, than to see their parent’s face on their pillow every night before they fall asleep. When KOMO, Seattle, found out that the USO had the ability to put a photo on a pillowcase for kids of parents deployed to Iraq, the station went into overdrive immediately. Around Thanksgiving, KOMO began the Pillowcase Brigade project with a special section on the station’s web site and on-air promotional announcements explaining the project and asking for donations. At $1 per pillowcase, lots of Northwest kids went to sleep comforted by their absent parent’s smile.

Operation RATSAT & the Great Quilt. Clear Channel Communications in Yakima began asking listeners to donate the small things that make life bearable for our troops, such as toiletries, batteries, sports equipment, electronic games, magazines and books. They thought they might get a few boxes, but instead wound up with several pallets full. The mother of a Yakima man stationed in Iraq got the stations in touch with his Command at Fort Lewis and they took on the project of getting the donations overseas. The stations got schools involved, too. The 5th Grade class at Adams Elementary School made a quilt, with each child supplying one square. When they were done, they took the quilt to a grocery store and spent a day, with the quilt hanging behind them, collecting more donations for the troops in Iraq.

Helping the Community

“One thing we broadcasters do is we empower people who want to help. By getting the word out, we facilitate the efforts of groups who have a great idea, but need some help. We work very hard to give each of our stations an identity that has integrity and weight. Listeners need to trust us, so when we invite them to do something, they can rely on us to present them with a project that they can believe in and get behind and will make a difference.” Lon Martin & Win Richards, New Northwest Broadcasters, Tri-Cities.

For a Better Tomorrow. Downtown Yakima’s core is in trouble; the Mall is nearly closed; stores closing; buildings vacant. All of the radio and television stations in Yakima pitched-in to create the For a Better Tomorrow campaign, designed to bring the community together, ordinary citizens, business and community leaders and officials, to develop a “what’s good about Yakima” attitude. The stations broadcast public service announcements promoting attendance at forum events that attracted several hundred people each. KNDO-TV in Yakima broadcast live from two of the community forums, and followed up with a series of educational announcements explaining each of the 12 recommendations in the final report.

Rescuing the 4th of July. In 2003, the City of Everett was in jeopardy of losing its Fourth of July fireworks celebration. No organizing committee existed and the group that ran the program in previous years had fallen apart. KRKO Radio jumped into the void, volunteering to sign the contract for the fireworks, volunteering staff and donating $30,000 worth of airtime to assist a group of local business leaders in forming a new non-profit organization that secured the necessary funding to ensure that there would be a fireworks program on the Fourth of July for residents of Everett and surrounding communities. Everett was able to save its festival.

Home Team Summer. Some community celebrations would fail for lack of publicity if it were not for local broadcasters. KING-TV, Seattle, dedicates the Summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Day to highlighting community events and festivals that might not otherwise get a lot of notice, such as the Vashon Island Strawberry Festival. KING-TV promotes these events with a combination of public service announcements, community calendar listings and features on KING-TV’s locally produced Evening Magazine program. The station runs public service announcements for a week to ten days leading up to each event or festival that educate viewers about the upcoming event and also spotlight the communities themselves.

United Way Day of Caring. For the past four years, KAPP-TV, Yakima, has participated in United Way’s Day of Caring. In 2003, station personnel painted a homeless shelter. Not only does the staff lend a hands-on approach to a Day of Caring project, but the station promotes participation by community members through public service announcements, encouraging businesses to make their personnel available. The station devotes substantial time on its newscasts during the Day of Caring covering all of the projects that have been undertaken in the community that day.

Blitz Build 2003. In 2003, KREM-TV, Spokane, teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to fund and build nine homes in ten days. KREM-TV’s responsibility was to raise enough money, material and sweat equity to build three of the homes. In early March, leading up to the event, KREM-TV broadcast announcements recruiting volunteers, followed by more public service announcements soliciting donations from viewers, as well as their time. Newscasts carried stories about the families who were about to own their first home as a result of Blitz Build 2003. During the ten days of building, the station broadcast live from the building sites during its morning, noon and evening newscasts. KREM-TV employees also gave of their time to take part in the project. At the end of the day, KREM-TV had met its goal of building three homes and following completion of the project, the station broadcast additional “thank you” public service announcements thanking the community and sponsors for their support. Throughout the month of August, the station continued to run educational announcements for Habitat for Humanity in order to keep their charitable work in front of the station’s viewers.

Fiesta Patrias. When the Mexican Consulate calls on Moon Broadcasting’s stations in the Yakima Valley for help, as it has many times, the stations quickly respond. In September during Fiesta Patrias the Consulate was involved in coordinating a program at the Yakima Fairgrounds, bringing in a number of community service groups, different programs, such as the DSHS child welfare department. They put up tables throughout the Sundome for each of the social service agencies to distribute educational material, give out information or answer questions. The Consulate asked the stations to help them notify the Hispanic community about this event, so the stations ran many PSAs to publicize it. In 2003, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was also involved and the stations provided some entertainment outside the Sundome on Sunday afternoon, while broadcasting live to encourage more members of the Hispanic community to attend.

Rebuilding the Playground of Dreams. Stations in the Tri-Cities donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of public service time and enormous support several years ago to help the community build the Playground of Dreams in Columbia Park. In 2003 the Playground of Dreams burned to the ground. The community was $100,000 short of the cost to rebuild it. All of the stations in the Tri-Cities pitched-in to help, disregarding who would get the credit. Live remote broadcasts were done from the devastated Playground of Dreams. One station did a huge spaghetti feed and silent auction. And the community is well on its way to rebuilding the Playground of Dreams.

Heart Improvement Month/”Kids of all Ages.” February is Heart Awareness Month and KXLY-TV and Radio have taken that project to heart. The Heart Institute works with the stations to broadcast a full-month campaign that focuses on various heart-healthy topics. In 2003, the Institute wanted to reach out to children, so the stations created “Heart Healthy for All Ages.” The station promoted the Heart Institute’s Healthy Food Plan booklet and supported the annual Heart Healthy cook-off, which in 2003 featured youngsters cooking their favorite heart healthy meal. The stations broadcast public service announcements all month long promoting the Food Plan and the events of Heart Awareness Month. In addition, the KXLY news department produced a half-hour special featuring the new Health Food Plan booklet and food plan and up-to-date heart healthy topics.

Kids Connection. KIRO Radio in Seattle launched a new community service effort in 2003 called the KIRO Kids Connection. It’s a campaign designed to address issues that impact children throughout the Puget Sound area and to increase the visibility of local non-profit organizations that work on behalf of children and families. Each of KIRO Radio’s personalities partnered with a non-profit organization to publicize their important work. Station air personalities read to kids in local schools; teed-off on the golf course to purchase sporting equipment for underprivileged kids; auctioned to raise money to keep open the doors of a local day shelter for families with kids; and, saddled up to improve the bodies, minds and spirits of children with disabilities through the use of the horse in therapy. Air personalities talked about their charities during their shows and the station donated additional time for public service announcements to educate and inform listeners about the activities and beneficiaries of these charitable organizations.

Family A Fair. Family A Fair is a Saturday-Sunday event that is held at TRAC in Pasco. They pack the expo hall with exhibitors; there’s nothing for sale. It’s strictly meant for young families and the goal is to showcase the many aspects of family togetherness. KEPR-TV in the Tri-Cities helps make Family A Fair a huge success; and it draws 14,000 families. As a way to promote attendance at Family A Fair, in 2003, the station asked kids to describe their “favorite family moment.” KEPR-TV interviewed the winning kids and showed the kids reading their “favorite family moment” or talking about it with their families in their newscasts during the week leading up to Family A-Fair. As a result, more than 14,000 people, young families, attended Family A Fair in 2003.

Help Center. Call-in for help. KHQ-TV brings its viewers into contact with experts to help when the need arises. Each Help Center project is focused on a specific topic and the station brings in experts or people with experience in the particular topic to take viewers calls. From 5 to 7 p.m., KHQ-TV’s evening newscasts make viewers aware of the topic and let them know that if they have questions they can call in. The newscast opens with a video about the Help Center, which is set up right in the newsroom; you can see it right there. The anchors will let the viewers know what the topic is for that evening; then they do a connecting story as an awareness raiser, and give the phone number to call for information from the Help Center. The phone number crawls across the bottom of the screen throughout the newscast. The news anchors refer to the Help Center throughout the newscast and remind viewers that they can call. Help Center starts at the beginning of the 5 o’clock newscast and runs until all of the calls have been answered, sometimes as late as 7 o’clock.

William O. Douglas Statue. When a young, energetic man came to KAPP-TV in Yakima, with a vision, they helped him make it happen. The community is building a statue of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who is a Yakima native, at Davis High School; a very grass-roots project. This young guy, right out of high school, worked with the Yakima Valley Historical Museum and got the Museum to sponsor him so that people could donate money to the Douglas Project through a tax exempt organization. He came in and sold himself and the project so well that the station agreed make a video that he used very successfully in his fundraising presentations. The station shot all the video, did the editing and produced the presentation video, which ended up being about 5-minutes long. The money is raised, and it’s not going to be a cheap statue. He tapped service clubs, and this young, dynamic kid, with KAPP-TV’s help, just made it happen.

The People Helper. The People Helper is a regular feature on KOMO-TV, Seattle. The People Helper provides viewers with the opportunity to help their neighbors who are in special need. “The People helper stories are just as much about the people who give, as they are about the people who receive,” says KOMO-TV’s People Helper, John Sharify. Public service comes in many forms. When you live in a community with needs as vast as Seattle’s, a service such as The People Helper can be many things to many people. In 2003 it was: Just what the doctor ordered (special equipment for a disabled accident victim); Santa Claus at Christmas to kids living in poverty; bringing things into focus (a new guide dog for a blind woman). In addition, in 2003, KMOM-TV’s People Helper provided assistance to a blind grandmother of a disabled grandson; provided piano lessons for a gifted blind child; provided funeral expenses for a needy family and a headstone for a woman unable to purchase one for her father; repaired a disabled man’s van.

Charitable Donation Projects

“Whenever we do a charitable project, we always have a web component. It’s a way for the charity to get more exposure, for the listeners to more involved, and it really works wonders.” Alyson Soma, Promotions Director KVI-AM, Seattle.

Teddy Bear Patrol. When children come into contact with emergency responders or police officers, often the experience is traumatic. KLSY, Seattle, has found the way to touch a frightened child’s heart. A teddy bear does it every time, whether it’s a car accident, the child is lost or sick. Every January, KLSY begins its initial Teddy Bear Patrol campaign to collect bears for use by police officers and firefighters throughout the Puget Sound area. But, throughout the year, police and fire departments call the station to let them know that they are in need of more Teddy Bears, and the station swings into action, again. A moving van company donated the space to keep the bears until they are taken to the emergency responders and twice a year the station staff takes a day to go through all the donated bears to sort them and make sure that they are clean, presentable and safe.

Lending a Helping Hand Whenever the Need Arises. At La Mexicana and Radio Zorro, the announcers have great flexibility come to the assistance of the Hispanic community in the Yakima Valley. When someone in the Mexican community dies, and the family does not have the wherewithal to pay to transport the body to Mexico for a proper burial in their hometown, the stations encourage the announcers to ask for assistance for the family; its medical bills, as well as, funeral expenses. When one of the stations’ announcers gets word that assistance is needed by a listener family, the stations responded right away, although the Hispanic community is so responsive that the stations need only mention it a few times for a couple of days and the desired results happen. For example, in 2003, the stations raised more than $1,000 for a young man who was well known around the radio station.

Children’s Ride 8. At Children’s Hospital and Medical Center no child is turned away. KIRO-TV in Seattle has pitched-in to help raise money to pay for uncompensated care for sick kids. In 2003, Children’s Ride 8 raised more than $200,000 with a motorcycle ride from Seahawks Stadium to Pacific Raceway. It’s an amazing event that involves an entirely different group of people helping those less fortunate in their community. KIRO-TV produces a promotional announcement to educate the audience about the need for help for kids who have received uncompensated care at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center. These public service announcements also promote the event and inform viewers about how to participate. The station is there, live, on-the-scene on the day of the Ride and follows up the event with a “Thank You” announcement, thanking all of the people who participated.

Community Christmas Basket. Each holiday season, beginning in November, KXLE Radio in Ellensburg raises food and money for the Community Christmas Basket. Heading into the holidays in 2003, the Community Christmas Basket program was far below its goal for the year and had lost its usual warehouse/collection site, as well. KXLE increased its usual efforts and was able to get the local community to turn the program around. The station organized at least five different events and through public service announcements, provided a tremendous amount of community awareness of the need. KXLE donate its parking lot as a collection site until the organization could secure a new location. With KXLE’s “above and beyond the call” help, the Christmas Basket program not only met, but exceeded its goals for the entire year.

Christmas in July. Just because it’s Summer, doesn’t mean that there aren’t people in the community with needs. When the Salvation Army in Spokane was trying to raise money to build a new campus, KHQ-TV realized that there were a lot of services offered by the Salvation Army that most people were not aware of. The station sent its news reporters out to ring bells, just like they do at Christmas time (except it was in July) to help raise money and featured the Salvation Army and its programs on newscasts. The campaign was a huge success raising both awareness and badly needed funds.

Family Food Drive. Every year in December, KHQ-TV, Spokane mobilizes its entire staff for a huge food drive event. Over the history of the KHQ-TV Family Food Drive, the station has collected more than 1.1 Million pounds of food, more than 220,000 pounds in 2003, alone. People collect food for months waiting for the Family Food Drive. KHQ-TV organizes schools and other community organizations to pre-collect food and deliver it during the one-day food drive. The station dedicates its morning newscasts to the Family Food Drive. Throughout the day, the station breaks into regular programming to give updates, encourage more giving, and interview representatives from Second Harvest. Educating the viewers is a big part of the Family Food Drive, too. During the week-long promotion leading up to the Food Drive, KHQ-TV tells listeners what the Second Harvest Food Bank does, who it benefits, who they reach and how the station’s viewers can volunteer their time.

In the Line of Duty. On June 26, 2003, Wenatchee Sheriff Saul Gallegos was slain in the line of duty, leaving behind his family, including his wife and children. Fisher Radio’s Regional Group of Wenatchee stations teamed with a local restaurant to conduct a one-day fundraising drive for his family. The restaurant donated a percentage of each meal purchased and the employees donated their tips for the day. Fisher Radio Regional Group broadcast live from the restaurant on all five of its stations throughout the day. The event raised nearly $10,000 for the family. Sheriff Gallegos was buried in Mexico and the funds generated by this event helped the family with basic needs and also to off-set their costs of attending the funeral.

Holiday Magic for Foster Children. For many of us, childhood holiday memories are happy ones, but for some children in foster care, it just isn’t so. In 2003, KIRO Radio in Seattle knew that many of the 3,665 children living in foster families in Western Washington needed help. Holiday Magic involved more than 500 volunteers answering telephone pledges, purchasing and wrapping gifts, as well as sorting and delivering them. In just five days KIRO matched every foster child with a sponsor. More than 25,000 gifts, valued at more than $713,000 arrived at the foster homes of those 3,665 kids. Meanwhile, more than $83,000 in cash donations was raised for the foster care system. During that time, KIRO broadcast public service announcements worth more than $136,000.

Heart for Hearts Hometown Tour. In the Summer of 2003, KDRK, Spokane decided that the new children’s wing of Sacred Heart Hospital needed a “kids room.” A place where families who had children in the hospital could go as a kind of “safe place” where there were toys and the parents could play with their kids. Every Thursday from June through August, KDRK personalities when on a “Hometown Tour,” doing their shows from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. live from different locations throughout the Spokane area. Every show focused on raising money for the Kids Room at Sacred Heart Hospital. Hospital staff and volunteers appeared on the station. KDRK wrapped up the project with one of the morning show personalities being “frozen alive” where he spent 48 hours in an “ice box.”

Warm Coats for Kids. In January, KIRO-TV and KRWM-FM in Seattle team up to produce Warm Coats for Kids collecting coats for children in need. The stations work together, producing promotional announcements and collecting coats for local agencies in the Puget Sound area, such as domestic violence shelters, the YWCA and other organizations that can get the coats to deserving kids. In 2003 nearly 15,000 coats were collected. The stations even involve local schools, getting them to collect coats at the same time and donate them to Warm Coats for Kids.

Rescuing Toys for Tots. KNDO-TV and the Clear Channel Communications stations in Yakima came to the rescue when burglars stole $8,000 worth of toys from the Toys for Tots warehouse in early December. More than 1,000 kids had been promised toys, and another thousand were on the waiting list. The stations joined forces for an emergency toy drive. By the end of the day-long, on-air drive, $14,000 had been collected and toys filled the entire KNDO-TV lobby. The next day, after the broadcasters and the Marines went on a toy shopping spree, the toys arrived live on KNDO-TV Local News at 6 p.m. via two semi-trucks, six pick-up trucks and the KNDO van. The total cash collected eventually exceeded $30,000 and more than 6,000 needy kids received Toys from the program.

Bikes for Kids. Kent & Alan of KPLZ, Seattle, feel that it’s very important for kids to have bikes. It’s good exercise and helps keep them out of trouble. Every Wednesday Kent and Alan award a bike on their morning show to a deserving child who’s been nominated. In 2003, Bikes for Kids became a year-round feature of the Kent and Alan program, even though in the past it had given way during the holidays to their Holiday Wish project. The station backs Kent & Alan wholeheartedly. KPLZ works aggressively to engage businesses that provide additional accessories, such as bike helmets, for each kid who gets a bike. The station receives approximately 500 to 1,000 nominations a year. It is a huge favorite of the Kent and Alan Show listeners.

Warm Clothes for Kittitas County. In 2003, for the sixth year in a row, KXLE Radio in Ellensburg organized a Winter clothing collection with all donations going to the Community Clothing Center to be distributed to local families. During the months of October, November and December, KXLE broadcast announcements asking listeners for donations of clothing for all ages suitable for Ellensburg’s frigid winters. Local businesses served as drop-off locations, donation bins are provided by Ellensburg’s local waste collection agency and a local laundry donated its services. Over 20,000 pieces of clothing were distributed to local families in need.

Home Team Harvest. In 2003, KING-TV, Seattle, raised $92,000 in cash and more than 107,000 pounds of food in its two-day Home Team Harvest project that feeds food banks statewide. Live on-air broadcasts began in the Friday morning newscasts and continued throughout the day. The 12 Noon newscast was dedicated to the project and live broadcasts continued until 2 o’clock. On Saturday, the station again began the drumbeat with its early morning news with 23 live remote broadcasts of three minutes each between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. It’s a real, hands-on and tangible way that the station can contribute to the community and get the public directly involved in something of which everybody can be proud.

An Evening of Giving. Raising money for charitable organizations can sometimes be competitive and disorganized. Clear Channel Communications’ stations in Tri-Cities saw a way to generate funds for a bevy of non-profit organizations all at once and quickly supported it. The Evening of Giving is an after-hours project at Columbia Center Mall in Kennewick. It’s open to ticketed customers only on a Sunday evening with sales, prizes and plenty of shopping surprises. Five Clear Channel stations combined with the Mall to promote the Evening of Giving. For the month leading up to the event, the stations ran dozens of public service announcements educating listeners about the event and how they could buy a ticket to participate. On the night of the event, the stations provided coverage during the entire event from 6 to 10 in the evening. The Evening of Giving was a huge success and benefited such organizations as Benton-Franklin Legal Aid, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Job’s Daughters, Rolling Hills Chorus of Sweet Adelines, Tri-Cities Cancer Center, the Mid-Columbia Reading Foundation and more than a dozen other charities.

St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Hispanic Network. Butterfield Broadcasting’s stations in the Yakima Valley are the voice of the Hispanic network for the broadcast of the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital radio-thon. In 2003 the stations raised more than $91,000 from the Yakima Valley Hispanic community. The radio-thon was broadcast on all the of the company’s stations, interrupting all of the regular programming on all of the company’s Spanish language stations. With the stations’ coverage from the Cascade Mountains to Idaho and from upper Central Washington to Portland, Oregon, the entire Hispanic community is reached by Butterfield Broadcasting’s stations. It’s a complete break from the format for each of the stations, but St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Hispanic Network has a good program and the station’s air personalities execute it very well. The audience is loyal enough and interested enough in the effort that breaking away from what they are used to hearing on their favorite stations is not a problem. The air personalities make it interesting, compelling, entertaining and very successful.

Tom’s Turkey Drive. Every month, more than 16,000 people receive food from the Spokane County Food Bank and nearly half of those served are children. That’s why, for the past three years, KREM-TV and KSKN-TV and KDRK Radio have teamed up with the Second Harvest Food Bank to fight hunger and feed hope in the Inland Northwest. For a month prior to the event, public service announcements are broadcast by the stations seeking volunteer help from the community. Two weeks before Tom’s Turkey Drive Days, the announcements begin to raise awareness of the event and inform viewers and listeners about how to participate. During the two-day event, KREM-TV news anchors were present at the various collection locations doing live remote broadcasts encouraging viewers to make their donations. The news anchors also did live news segments on the stations newscasts and cut-in broadcasts throughout the day. Tom’s Turkey Drive 2003 broke all previous records. More than 4,900 turkey dinners were donated and more than $27,000 in cash was collected. In addition, more than 10,000 pounds of additional food were donated by the Food Bank.

Helping the Challenged Contribute to their Community. KFFX-TV, Tri-Cities partners with Columbia Industries, which is a sheltered workshop company that puts the disabled to work. The have several different projects or products, such as a shredding company; a pallet building company; janitorial services; a laundry for commercial customers. They employ about a hundred people and have a waiting list of another hundred who want to work. The station puts together a complete public service campaign featuring business leaders in the Tri-Cities whose companies utilize the services of Columbia Industries. The CEOs of those companies appear in the public service announcements as spokespersons giving testimonials about the success they have had working with Columbia Industries. Then, they ask other businesses to use the Columbia Industries services, as well. In 2003, KFFX-TV used 10 to 15 business leaders to help build the business and image of Columbia Industries.

Leveraging the Community’s Contributions. The KCPQ-TV/KTWB-TV Cares Fund raises money for the Tribune stations’ charitable partners by leveraging funding from the McCormick Foundation, started by one of the early publishers of the Chicago Tribune, Col. Robert R. McCormick. Throughout the country, approximately $100 Million a year is provided to charitable causes. About 65% of that is given away through the Foundation’s “Communities” program, which consists of local funds in every market where the Tribune Company owns businesses, including Seattle, home to KCPQ-TV and KTWB-TV. The local funds raise money through a totally unique fundraising model called an “event partnership.” Over the past several years, the stations have partnered with Junior Achievement, the Red Cross, Cystic Fibrosis Association, Special Olympics, and Boys & Girls Clubs in their fundraising events, providing promotional announcements and other airtime coverage of the event. The event becomes one to benefit both the KCPQ/KTWB Cares Fund and the nonprofit partner. Then, all the money contributed to the Cares Fund at that fundraising event comes back to the nonprofit group, with a 40% match from the McCormick Foundation. So the money raised by the charitable organization is multiplied. The money raised in the community by the event stays right in the community plus the matching money from the Foundation. In 2003, the stations partnered with Junior Achievement and Red Cross.

Fight Hunger Day. In the state of Washington, half a million people live in poverty and rely on food banks for sustenance. The need for food donation is year-round, but for families with children relying on subsidized school meal programs throughout the school year, the Summer months can be especially difficult and the need for donations is even greater. KIRO Radio partnered with Northwest Harvest to collect food during the Spring, by leading a two-month effort, combining 300 volunteers from the Girl Scouts of King County who collected food donations door-to-door. The project culminated with KIRO Radio’s Fight Hunger Day: A 12-hour live broadcast from four participating retail partners and a 14-hour phone bank, with volunteers taking monetary donation pledges. Fight Hunger Day raised more than $5,900 and delivered nearly 36,000 pounds of food valued at $53,800. With 40 days of public service announcements flooding the KIRO Radio airwaves, plus the 12-hour live broadcast, the 2003 KIRO Radio Fight Hunger Day was a huge success.

Breakfast Boys Christmas Wish. During the holidays in 2003, the Breakfast Boys on Star 96.9, Spokane, asked for letters from listeners nominating a deserving family that was in special need; they received several hundred nominations. The nominees are often, for example, a single mom that has young kids who is doing everything she can to make ends meet, but a Christmas celebration is just not an option; or, there may be health crisis in the family that has exhausted the family’s resources or they can’t spend time away from the hospital. The Breakfast Boys pick out the stories that seem to be the most deserving, grant that wish and read the nominating letter on the air. They’re really powerful. As a part of granting the wishes, the Breakfast Boys show up with the tree, the presents, the food, the grocery vouchers, and turn it into a real celebration. They show up the morning of the granting of the wish and usually they have the nominator on the phone and read the letter at the same time they’re delivering the items.

Bringing Community Issues into Focus

“We feel that if they think it’s a problem, then we think it’s a problem and we want to participate in exploring the problem and helping the community find a solution.” Jon Rand, KAYU-TV, Spokane.

Police Chief Problems in Yakima. When the long-time police chief of Yakima retired, it set off a series of events no one could have imagined. KNDO-TV stuck with the story to the end, bringing the citizens of Yakima answers to important questions about the integrity of their police department. After two nationwide searches, the City brought the six semi-finalist candidates to Yakima for a community forum. They answered questions from the community leaders and anyone else in attendance. KNDO-TV taped the forum and aired it in its entirety the next Sunday. The station did sit-down interviews with each one of the three finalists and broadcast those interviews in its newscasts. In September 2003, the City hired a person from Kingsville, Texas. Four weeks after he started the job, he was indicted back in Texas and there were charges flying in all directions. To the people of Yakima, it was a huge scandal and called into question the City’s hiring process. KNDO-TV sent its news anchor and a second reporter to Kingsville, Texas, and they interviewed the entire City Council, supporters, opponents, and the Sheriff. They were there for four days and brought back a wealth of information and interviews. The station did stories on the situation every day for three weeks. In addition, KNDO-TV produced and broadcast a half-hour News Special Report, a one-on-one sit down interview with the new Police Chief, giving the citizens of Yakima the opportunity to hear his side of the story directly from him. That program was broadcast right after the 6 o’clock newscast. The situation was resolved and the man the City hired is still the Yakima Police Chief, well-respected in the community.

Talk-Back Tri-Cities. In 2003, KONA Radio in the Tri-Cities premiered a new show called Talk-Back Tri-Cities. It is a 30 to 45 minute program broadcast every morning at 8:15 a.m. It’s a local issues discussion program that focuses on local guests; just local talk. KONA gets Rep. Doc Hastings, local congressman, to call in from Washington, D. C. and local state legislators calling from Olympia; and, when they’re in town, they come into the studio to appear on the program. Talk-Back Tri-Cities takes calls so the listeners can talk directly to their elected officials or other community leaders who appear on the program. It goes beyond just politics. KONA Radio brought in the organizers of the drive to bring an antique carousel to Columbia Park and had them answer listeners’ questions about the project and how it would enhance or impact their enjoyment of the Park. It not only encompasses major issues in the community, but also the smaller things. Tri-Cities had a little theater group come to town and put on a play and so KONA had the troop come in and talk about the production. KONA Radio used to do this kind of program from time to time when they could get a special guest, but as a daily program it’s turned out to be very rewarding for the community.

Town Hall Meetings. KAYU-TV, Spokane, organized and broadcast three Town Hall Meetings in 2003. The station uses these Town Hall Meetings as a forum to give the community an opportunity to talk about a specific issue, and for KAYU-TV to gather information about the needs of the community and tailor its newscasts with those needs in mind. KAYU-TV’s Town Hall Meetings are not regularly scheduled; each one is created each around a specific issue as the issue arises. Once the station established a record of doing these Town Hall Meetings, organizations began asking the station to do a Meeting on an issue they felt was of critical importance. Without exception, every time KAYU-TV has been asked to do one, the station has created a Town Hall Meeting. The station sends a news crew to the Town Hall Meeting and uses pieces of the Meeting and related interviews in its newscasts. It’s their effort to reach out to the grassroots level in different neighborhoods. In 2003, the three KAYU-TV Town Hall Meetings covered Teen Depression, following an incident at a local high school; Teen Smoking; and a special Town Hall Meeting for the community to “Meet the New Mayor” immediately following the election. In addition, KAYU-TV broadcast the debate between the two finalist mayoral candidates. The debate was broadcast live on a Sunday and the repeated on the air on election eve.

Ascertaining the Community’s Needs & Interests

“We find a wealth of great programming ideas in the Ascertainment Meetings.” Lisa Thompson, Director of Community Relations & Station Communications at KING-TV, Seattle.

Seattle Stations Join Forces for Ascertainment. All the radio and television stations in the Seattle market participate in a monthly, three-hour, Ascertainment Meeting from September through May. The purpose of the meetings is to meet with community leaders and non-profit organizations once a month to learn from them what their issues and concerns are. Each month, six guest speakers from the community are invited by the host station and they are asked to talk about community issues and concerns from their standpoint as community leaders. Most of the speakers are from nonprofit organizations, but often leaders from government, city councils, and a broad range of community leaders attend, as well. Some stations compile the issues that are discussed and the station’s news department uses them as a guide to see where they should do more coverage. Other stations take issues that are raised at these meetings and develop other kinds of programming around them. Some stations follow-up the Ascertainment Meeting with personal interviews of the guest speakers. “I think they’re really valuable,” she said. “There are many good ideas that come out of these meetings. Also for us, we get ideas for issues for Evening Magazine to cover, which is very valuable for us because it’s a longer form program and can cover a subject more in depth than you can in a newscast.”

Educational Meetings for Non-Profits. In 2003, KXLY Broadcast Group in Spokane began to organize meetings for community leaders to help them understand how to better connect with broadcasters and to find out what community issues were important or emerging. The stations conducted a meeting for nonprofit groups to help them understand how to use media; to tell them how stations want to receive information; everything from community calendar items to PSAs to news. The stations also informed the community leaders about what they can expect from broadcasters. The stations’ General Manager presented an overview of how public service gets done. It was a full morning seminar but, with all of the questions that the community leaders had, the seminar could have lasted all day. Having a chance to talk to a representative from the news department was a great opportunity for them because so many of them are wearing so many hats. These community leaders are, generally, not media savvy, so the stations tried to have presentations from various areas of the station that they might come into contact with. And this meeting produced tangible results, not just good feelings. The KXLY Broadcast Group just got a thank you letter from one of the organizations that attended this meeting, a local hospice organization. Since the meeting, they have been working together and have just finished producing their PSA, which will be broadcast during 2004. This is a direct result of that organization attending the stations’ meeting.

Outside Information Gathering for Ascertainment. KNDO-TV in Yakima uses an outside organization to do local market research that provides the station with a wealth of information about the issues, needs and interests of its community. Initially, the station invites 30 to 40 people from various sectors of the community to discuss the questions that the stations should be asking about the community. Then, the outside organization interviews about 1,200 people. The small group identifies the questions the survey needs to ask; the large group provides the solid informational feedback. “We use a large portion of it in determining issues to cover in news and other programming,” says Raymond Ochs, Manager of Viewer Development for KNDO-TV. “We just did a huge news story on heart care in the Tri-Cities because through this survey process we found that 80% of the people felt that there wasn’t quality heart care in the Tri-Cities and that they had to leave the area to get it. We ended up doing a huge news report on what heart care is and is not available in the Tri-Cities; purely based on this research.” After the survey information is finalized, KNDO-TV holds a community meeting with about 300 business and community leaders, elected officials and opinion leaders to share with them the findings of the survey and solicit still more feedback on issues that matter to the community.

Community Leadership Meetings. KHQ-TV, Spokane hosts a meeting with 25 to 30 people from various walks of life and organizations, including, care providers, educators, State Patrol officers, government officials, just a whole range of community opinion leaders. They just listen to what the guests have to say, then they break the community representatives up into small table-top groups, each of which is facilitated by a station management employee. At the end of the meeting, there is time for each table to report on its discussions and identify the issues that were raised there. These meetings are used to compile KHQ-TV’s “10 Priority Issues,” which serve as the catalyst for programming that addresses those issues. The station wants to help its viewers understand the issues and what those issues means to them. We also use the 10 Issues to identify topics to cover in our ongoing community service campaign “Success by Six.”

© Washington State Association of Broadcasters, 2004

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