WEMU sets record in spring pledge drive

Listeners heed call for support amid national debate over NPR funding

by Geoff Larcom, Published March 31, 2011


YPSILANTI – WEMU, Eastern Michigan University's public radio station, set an all-time record in its spring pledge drive in raising $162,083 during the week-long event.

That total exceeded the station's goal of $145,000 by over $17,000, or 12 percent, and beat the previous spring's total of $138,000 by 18 percent. The new mark beat the previous overall record of $152,000, set last fall, by 7 percent.

"More than anything, these results tell us that listeners like what we do," said station general manager Molly Motherwell.  "With the current threats to federal and state (through decreasing higher education appropriations) funding, we told them that the best way to assure a strong and sustainable WEMU for the future was to come through with more support.

"And they did, in record numbers."

Nearly 75 percent of the recent drive's total was pledged on weekday programming between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. That lineup includes NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as local jazz programs hosted by Linda Yohn and Michael Jewett. 

The remainder was pledged during WEMU's weekend lineup that includes a combination of NPR news, information, and entertainment and strong, local, niche music programs.

Federal funding for public broadcasting, particularly NPR, has been a divisive topic in the news for several weeks as federal lawmakers consider funding cuts.

 Motherwell said that the debate definitely helped WEMU's cause.

"Our listeners understand that our federal grant (roughly 20 percent of WEMU's overall budget) is a very important part of our budget and its loss could have a huge impact," she said.  "Not only did (listeners) advocate for continued funding to their legislators, but they also increased their giving, so that WEMU can maintain its current level of service if funding is cut.

"They sent a definite message through their giving, and all of us at the station appreciate that support so much.  Michigan's been through some pretty tough times, which makes this record support all the more gratifying.  Clearly WEMU has an impact in the community."

WEMU, located in King Hall on the EMU campus, is a listener-supported, NPR affiliate with a format of local news, jazz, and blues in addition to NPR news, information, and cultural programming.

 The station broadcasts to an eight county area that includes all or part of Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, Jackson, Lenawee, Monroe, and Lucas (Ohio) counties.

The station broadcasts an unhosted mix of roots, blues, and Americana music on its second HD channel, WEMU2, and webcasts live 24 hours a day at wemu.org.

For further information, contact Molly Motherwell or Clark Smith at 487-2229.


Geoff Larcom



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