Thank you for your letter, and I’m sorry you haven’t seemed to get a definitive response.
So here is what I’d like to tell you.
First, never, ever apologize or feel that you need to explain why you have decided to not support the station. Any support we get is an anomaly. People don’t have to give at all—public service broadcasting is meant to be a free public service to all, those who give and those who don’t. Some people are good enough to help us pay the bills and we don’t expect this nor take it for granted once it happens.
So, thank you very much from all of us for your past support.
On to your question.
Both 91.5 FM’s shortfall from our original projections this year of close to $900,000, and all other subsidies, This American Life, Third Coast Festival, Sound Opinions, and Voicalo.org were paid for out of net assets, not a pledge drive. Net assets are, in essence, the station’s reserves or bank account.
So, what you are afraid happened did not happen.
Vocalo.org’s needs were so small compared to WBEZ’s this year that you can quite comfortably know that no pledge drive revenues were used. But, in a way, it is rather moot. In the pool of reserves, certainly there were some pledge revenues from the past. And this is normal.
To explain: All of our revenues—revenues from pledge drives, government grants, foundation grants, major gifts, events revenues, shop revenues, underwriting revenues, direct mail revenues, telemarketing revenues, and pledge drive revenues pay all of our bills at Chicago Public Radio.
Here’s what all of the string of revenues I outlined above pay for:
- Programming acquired for broadcast on 91.5 FM
- Original production heard on 91.5 FM
- Engineering and other capital infrastructure costs for the WBEZ transmitter at John Hancock Center
- The same costs as they apply to the WBEQ transmitter at Morris, Illinois
- All costs associated with W217 BM in Elgin
- Engineering costs for WBEW
- Third Coast International Audio Festival costs
- Costs for Sound Opinions
- Chicago Matters
- Chicagopublicradio.org—the website—it’s design, maintenance, and streaming costs
- The same as they apply to Thirdcoastfestival.org
- Studio equipment and maintenance at our Navy Pier Studios
- Rent, maintenance at our South side bureau in Englewood
- Rent, maintenance at our North side bureau in West Rogers Park
- Rent, maintenance at our West side bureau at Humboldt Park
- Rent, maintenance at our Northwest Indiana bureau in Chesterton
- Costs associated with live events, such as the recent Worldview Global Activism Fair in Edgewater
- Costs associated with intern training and talent development in our City Room
- Costs associated with our public education programs done in cooperation with the Chicago Board of Education
- And others, and others, and others.
My point is—it is very difficult if not impossible for anyone to be assured that any single dollar in our hands is used specifically for one item on the list and only one—for the salary of one specific employee or one specific moment of any one specific broadcast.
This is correct and normal and proper. This is the way it is with any donation one might make to any Chicago institution—the Art Institute, the Chicago Symphony, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the DuSable Museum. The dollars given merge with other dollars to build a strong, multidimensional service for all Chicagoans.
We’ll give your donation back, as you wish. No questions asked. We hope you will come back one day. In the meantime, listen and enjoy our work.
We are terribly fortunate to have a pool of donors who will keep the home fires burring so that you and I can listen all we want. We are grateful that so many people believe in the rich service we provide, and we are very grateful for all of your past support.
Have a great weekend, Jean-Marie.
President and General Manager
Chicago Public Radio
WBEZ 91.5 FM, Chicago;
WBEW 89.5 FM, Chesterton;
WBEQ 90.7 FM, Morris;