13 October 2011

Time to Feed the Meter

Let me tell you about an unusual bookseller. His name is Charles Mysak, no relation, and he sells books in New York City from his parking spot on the corner of Columbus Avenue and 68th Street.

He snagged his spot more than a decade ago and he hasn't budged since. Mysak stores his inventory in a green ‘94 Honda Civic and he manages to feed the meter $36 a day – in quarters.

Which brings me to the current fund raising drive here on KZYX. Feed the meter. Hold on to your spot. Show your staying power, your dedication. Drop some quarters into the radio slot on a regular basis. Help keep us on the air.

Mysak was quoted in a radio interview: "I've been here for 11 years," he said. "Barnes & Noble is now closed. I'm the last resource for books (in the neighborhood). I'm here from 7 to 7 every day."

Just like this radio station. We are here every day and every night, pumping fresh, pollution-free information into your personal space whenever you want to listen. To be on the air we have to feed that meter every day, too. You can help with that.

So far during this fall pledge drive we've been pleading, joking, and otherwise encouraging you to make a move on your wallet and give us a call at (707) 895-2233 or pledge online at KZYX,ORG.

At this point maybe it's time to step back and consider why we go through this exercise two or more times a year. KZYX runs on a model first successfully used by the listener-supported Pacifica Foundation in the years following World War II. It worked then, and it works now.

Many people are astonished to discover a radio broadcast operation owned, administered and paid for by the listeners themselves. That is what Pacifica pioneered, and that's what we do here. It's truly democracy in action, and that always has been our goal -- to free radio from the almighty advertising dollar,  depending instead on the free will donations of people like you, listeners who find freedom of the airwaves important in their lives and important for their community.

KZYX has a different history from Pacifica - we're much younger, for one thing. KZYX took shape 20-plus years ago when community radio enthusiast Sean Donovan arrived here to beat the Mendocino bushes for the earliest supporters of Mendocino Public Radio.

On the KZYX web site you find this: "We are a hybrid of sorts... we are not just community radio (radio that encourages volunteer programmers and focuses almost singularly on locally relevant news and information) nor are we just public radio (professionally produced commercial-free radio). Instead we are a combination of the two: we feature some of the finest Public Radio programs available and we have over 100 local volunteer programmers."

That unusual combination sets this station apart from most others; certainly apart from Jefferson Public Radio to the north, which steers away from controversy, offers no local news and minimal local programming.

We have managed to create something here that is precious, and like many precious things, something fragile, too. We don't depend on grants, although national funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting helps. We pay the bills the same way you pay yours - by digging deep, asking for help when we really need it, and economizing everywhere. Feeding the meter before it expires.

The physical plant is difficult - components break down or need upgrading – and professionals from larger stations are sometimes amazed when they see how well we make do with aging equipment and a distinct lack of sleek offices to impress – who?

The hard working staff and volunteers make it work. We succeed because of you – a person who does care about community radio in general, and this station in particular.

Finally, let me repeat a story I’ve told before. I have a friend whose car radio car broke and she couldn’t afford to replace it.

She told me she is giving KZYX a generous donation even though she can’t hear us much. I don't know how to characterize that kind of generosity, but I sure know how to appreciate it.

Now is a very good time for you to add something to what you've already given. If you haven't joined and pledged yet, this is your moment. Let us hear from you. Feed the meter!

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