Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"Thank You for Your Support" (a.k.a. "The Life and Times of a Pledge Producer")

My job as an associate producer for on-air development is a 24/7 responsibility. As a writer and producer of MPT’s pledge breaks, I am subject to eye rolls and deflated sighs from MPT viewers. No matter where I am or what hour of the day, it happens to me.

As soon as I explain that I have anything to do with the (seemingly) constant and (seemingly) incessant interruptions during MPT programs, many people (dare I say “most”) immediately share how irritated they get whenever my work gets on the air. It’s a hard thing to accept. I’ve never met anyone who actually enjoys viewing my programming. Not my boss, not my mom, and…really… not even myself. I sincerely try to make the best pledge break programming the world has ever seen! But that’s like saying “I’m trying to make the most delicious chewable vitamin the world has ever tasted!” For some reason, people don’t seem to appreciate it.

However, people do respond to it. Viewer support is the basic foundation of public television. Pledge breaks exist to remind people of that. Just like people sometimes need to be reminded to take their vitamins, people sometimes need to be reminded why they must support public television like MPT. (At least when you support us you sometimes get a tote bag out of the whole deal.)

I never worked in fundraising prior to joining MPT as an employee last year. I had produced programs for public television before, but I never had to worry about how those shows were funded. I just took it for granted that people would always support quality programming. Now after seeing what it costs to create and support good programming, I realize that my faith in the support of the viewing public is not an absolute truth. Universal support and huge amounts of advertising dollars usually result in big, bland programming. Programming that’s specific and challenging often only appeals to a certain portion of the viewing audience. But it’s programming like that that needs the most support by individuals.

When a person responds to one type of program in particular, the executives at MPT and in the PBS system really do take note. I can guarantee you of this. So when you like a program or an institution like MPT, please help support it. It’s a vote and a statement that you enjoy programming that isn’t about just base commercial appeal or a visual spectacle. It shows that quality and depth matter to you. At least, that’s what I think. I tend to take this stuff very seriously.

In conclusion, thank you for your past support and future support of MPT. I apologize if our pledge breaks drive you completely nuts. Sometimes, they do that to me, too. However, just know that it takes money to even keep them on the air. So call or visit us online now. You may even get a nice tote bag—perfect for carrying vitamins!

Peter Shea
Associate Producer for On-Air Fundraising

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