WYOU takes fundraising to the community

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Posted by madcityradio.com on June 09, 2009 at 12:48:21:

WYOU takes fundraising to the community
Jane Burns | 77 Square | June 9, 2009

WYOU Community Television will make an effort to live up to its name by getting out into the community for its summer pledge and membership drives that began this week.

The "Hands On WYOU" campaign will target two east side music festivals -- this weekend's Marquette Waterfront Festival and La Fete de Marquette on July 11. It will finish with a party at High Noon Saloon on July 12.

"It's about us being much more visible in the community than we have been," said Executive Director Barbara Bolan.

Station staff and volunteers will collect hand prints and stories to both make money and connect with the community at the events. For $50, people can create a paper mache handprint that will be used to construct a contribution wall at the station. In addition, community members will be invited to sit down in front of the camera and tell a story about life in Madison or other subjects of their choosing. Collected stories will be edited into a series of vignettes that will air on WYOU this summer and fall.

Fundraising is a new task for WYOU, the local cable access program that began in 1976. A state law signed by Gov. Jim Doyle last year changed cable franchise agreements from being local to statewide. The effect of that change in Madison meant that 63 cents per Charter subscription per month that used to go to public, educational and government channels (called PEG channels) would end by 2011.

In Madison, that fee provided nearly $400,000 annually to two community broadcast stations, WYOU and Madison City Channel 12.

WYOU, which received $139,000 annually, has a variety of programming created by community members and the news program "Democracy Now!" The city channel shows many governmental meetings.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz told WYOU he would leave the fee in place this year, but has plans to cut it in half the following year.
WYOU is working on becoming more self-sufficient and the pledge drive is part of that. This spring, the station had an on-air pledge drive.

The need to raise money instead of just getting a check from the city has changed how WYOU does business, staff members say.

"There was nothing to force producers to connect with their audience," said the station's technical director Eric Allin. "That's why (community radio station) WORT is as strong as it is, their pledge drives force the DJs to say, 'Hey, audience, we need your support.'"

WYOU is on channel 95, and digital channel 991. Since March, it has been streaming live at wyou.org.

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