Shorter member drive pays off

As both a listener and host, I was very happy to see our five-day on air member drive succeed in raising as much money as our typical ten-day drive.  It was a risky move by our fundraising department, but one that’s established a new model for how we can reduce the time of drives.

One of the biggest problems we face from long fundraisers is the loss of listeners.  Like all public radio stations, we take a ratings hit when we’re asking for money.  That’s magnified in a market like Southern California, where there’s a second station offering NPR programming.

The greatest value in on air fundraising is connecting with newer listeners, and those who’ve never given before.  Once a listener becomes a member, he/she typically renews without need for an on air fundraiser.  That’s why I don’t foresee a time when we’d eliminate on air drives.  However, I’ll take shorter any day!


A great time visiting the Cactus League

KPCC “Morning Edition” Host Steve Julian and I had a terrific time in Arizona late last week watching the Angels and Dodgers play spring training games.  As I wrote in my last posting, the Cactus League fans are particularly knowledgeable about the game and truly dedicated to their teams.  It makes for some fun conversations.

Saturday afternoon, Steve and I were at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona to see the Dodgers play Cleveland.  After taking our seats a few rows behind the Indians’ dugout, the fan in front of us turned around and asked “are you Larry Mantle?  I was wondering if I’d meet you here.”

The fan was a Los Angeles resident, also named Larry, who heard me mention our annual trips on air.  It turns out that Larry comes every year and brings one of his grandsons to the games.  Joining him this time was grandson Adam of Calabasas.


Steve Julian's and my annual spring training roadtrip is underway

“Morning Edition” host Steve Julian and I are off to Arizona for our annual trip to indulge in spring training baseball.  Every March for more than a decade, we’ve taken a few days to watch the Dodgers and Angels field combinations of established major leaguers who’re getting into shape, and promising minor leaguers trying to make an impression.

Spring training is particularly fun for baseball fans because of the comparative intimacy of the games.  Instead of 50,000 seat stadiums, the games are played in front of crowds of just a few thousand.  The sounds from the field are more immediate and encompassing than at Dodger or Angel Stadium.  The fans are also more into the games and less into the ancillary entertainment than you’ll see during the regular season.

It’s a fun mix of vacationing families, retirees, local businesspeople stealing away for a couple of hours, and baseball-loving friends like Steve and me.  For me, it’s about as relaxed as I’m able to get. I tune out much (though not all) of the news and focus on unwinding in the sun. 


When aging family members can no longer drive safely, how do we tell them?

That’s one of the questions we asked listeners this morning about aging drivers.  We had a terrific range of comments, including older listeners who described how they’ve adapted their driving habits to deal with the realities of diminished reflexes and vision.

Most of our callers spoke of how they dealt with their parents on this issue.  Several said that their parents were able to make the adjustment to not driving, but we had one particularly poignant call.  It came from a listener who described his mother having to give up driving in her 90s, only to afterward lose her will to live.  This exemplifies how much more driving means than simply providing transportation.  It’s both a practical and symbolic marker of independence.

If you haven’t heard the segment, I encourage you to listen to the podcast.  I really appreciated our listener’s comments.


Discord on the Coliseum commission can be heard loud and clear on "AirTalk"

Two members of the commission, Councilman Bernard Parks and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, got into a heated argument on this morning’s program.  There were several points of disagreement, including whether Parks owes the commission $40,000 for a Coliseum fireworks show.  However, the biggest dispute was over whether the public has been sufficiently involved in the decision to give USC managerial control over the stadium.

The Councilman claimed that there should have been public hearings before serious negotiations began with USC.  The Supervisor argued that there were public meetings prior to the decision and that turning management over to USC would enable the school to make necessary Coliseum improvements that the commission couldn’t afford.

As you might have heard, a few top Coliseum managers were alleged to have engaged in business practices that enriched themselves personally, at the expense of the public. Also, the commission hasn’t been able to make stadium improvement that USC had been promised, as part of the university’s lease with the commission.