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    Rogue Radio Revenue:
    Creative Concepts for Funding your Micro Radio Station

    Listener Support:
    On-air, Canvassing, and Tabling

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    On-air, Canvassing, and Tabling

    Thing You Need To Have
    PO Box for the Station.
    Checking account with the stations name or Radio Fund.
    A log book to keep track of donations and donator's addresses.

    Although it's what you love to hate about public radio, asking for donations over the air can generate a steady trickle of operating funds. Larger non-commercial stations like KPFA in Berkeley and KKUP in Cupertino, CA get a vast majority of their money from their listeners. KKUP is a community station that operates with no paid staff and is the closet thing I have found for the model of a LP-1000 (1000 watt) station as proposed by the FCC. I recommend checking the KKUP website out. On-air pledge drives are effective for stations with large audiences and will be less effective for the small audiences of the typical LPFM station. There is also the danger of sounding to much like public radio with a full blown beg-a-thon.

    Well, this will only work a little, but I raised $1,000 [in six weeks] just by going on the air and basically saying "send me money".
    -Jerry Szoka, The GRID, Cleveland, OH

    Based on comments and observations, a strategy of "low intensity" fund raising would be a safe bet. Just put a sign up in the studio reminding DJ's to give out the stations PO Box and ask for the cash. Also remember to put the can out at any events or information booths. Remember, if you don't ask people for support, the generally will not think to give it.

    Take a page from the big stations and use checks and return addresses that you get as sources for addresses of listeners. This can give you an idea where you listeners are and can allow you to make mailing lists for announcements about benefits or special events. This can also be done with email addresses.

    Shwag is free stuff. This is usually used as an "incentive" or "premium" in public radio to get people to pledge. Considering that most people will be sending you $10.00, most give-aways would be too expensive. An option for shwag is the sticker. They usually cost a few cents each and are a great way to spread the word about your station.

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    Not for the faint of heart. Door-to-door canvassing is a numbers game, the more doors you knock on, the bigger your success. It is important for anyone doing this to think about your experiences with people knocking at your door and asking for money or giving out information. Think about what pisses you off and avoid doing it. Also remember not go around meal times or the start of prime-time TV, this will lessen the blow-off rate.

    Door to door is an excellent way to connect with the people in your community. I'm not sure it pays off that well in the short term-it's not that easy for people to take out money and put it in your hand-but it does pay off in many other ways.
    -Steve Provizer, Allston Media Alliance, Free Radio Allston

    Consider this community out reach with bonus cash. Hit them with the information and follow up with a polite request for donations of a dollar or five. Smaller amounts are easier for people to part with and it all adds up. Nothing is more irritating than some canvasser parroting a script ("Good evening sir or madam."). However, just like talking on the air, things go smoother when you have an idea of what your going to say. It might be worthwhile for the staff to generate some good (non-offensive) pitches that canvassers can use.

    "The advantages [of going door-to-door]:
    1) Easier to collect the check when you are standing right there.
    2) Some people will give you a check just to get you to go away.
    3) MOST VALUABLE: You get to hear one-on-one of their hopes and dreams for the radio dial. They get to feel a sense of creating a channel of power thru positive action (even if it is only signing an LPRS petition or donating $10)."
    -Christopher Maxwell, WRFR (Radio Free Richmond, VA)

    Use canvassing to get people to sign a petition of support for your station. This gets people involved and gives you an opportunity to talk with them. You have a better chance of getting a donation with someone who is willing to sign a petition. At any rate, they will be more informed and more likely to help out in the future.

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    Ah yes, free speech at its best. This is a great way to meet the masses on their terms and is less invasive (and stressful) than canvassing. Next time you're in a busy area, check out how other people and organizations table information. What works? What doesn't? Here in Santa Cruz, CA, I have had ample opportunities to watch tabling in action and even to participate (political activism and eating out are popular pursuits here -although not necessarily in that order).

    "Another good idea is putting informational tables out in busy spots with a lot of street traffic. Have your info, your t-shirts, sell tickets to events, etc., play good music..."
    -Steve Provizer, Allston Media Alliance, Free Radio Allston

    It takes two to table. Put someone behind the table and another handing out flyers for the station and directing people to the table. Be careful if you are retailing items, as some cities do not allow this or require a permit. Do not block traffic or entrances to buildings and try to avoid blocking window displays. All of these are excuses to be hassled by security or the cops. Also make sure that you are on public not private property. Encourage station staff to drop by to keep things happening around the table. A great idea I saw Free Radio Santa Cruz do was to bring a tape recorder and have people make comments to play on the air. Let them know when they can tune in to here themselves.

    Avoiding Common Mistakes
    The big mistake is not to set up the table and display at home before going out. Once you are on the street it is a little late to find the table is broken or you forgot something. Make a tabling kit that people can use and maybe a check list.

    Sample Check List

    Folding table

    Folding chair or two (standing gets old fast)

    Radio/tape player so people can hear what you do live or on tape if reception is poor due to buildings or interference

    Rocks or other weights to keep paper from flying around

    Sunscreen, water, and lunch

    A donation can

    Stickers, buttons, T-shirts, tickets to sell (and a book to write sales in)

    Pencils and pens

    Banner to hang from table
    (a broom handle tapped to the bottom will keep it from flapping around)

    Tape and/or string

    It also pays to identify a near-by bathroom

    Free Radio Berkeley was a pioneer of the remote broadcast and letting people speak right on the air live. This is the best way to get people excited about Micro Radio. As you might guess, this requires technical expertise that may be beyond many stations abilities. However, if you can put it together, it an almost guaranteed success.

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