Fayette County News

Fayette County


Thack You: Pledge, Drive, Die

Larry Thack wishes to acknowledge and bewail your manifold sins and wickedness
Larry Thack coined the phrase “Live, Laugh, Love”

Twice a year I’ll come out of retirement to work security at the PBS pledge drive. Things can get pretty rowdy at our local headquarters of WABE, and it’s my job to keep everyone cool in this high-pressure environment.
The days are long at the phone banks waiting and pleading for the funds we need to survive. The staff gets tense as their jobs are always on the line, and it doesn’t help that you have all these bright and shiny volunteers floating around on their altruism to ruin your day. You could go a month without seeing COO John Weatherford in the studio, but now he’s there all the time lambasting the staff for the nickels and dimes that are trickling in. Don’t let his even and calm tone fool you, his demon will come out as soon as his chai latte gets cold.
The goals always seem to be met at the last possible minute and that can lead to a lot of stress. Last year Steve Goss angrily cleared off a buffet table then quietly lowered his gaze and asked everyone if they were “feeling lucky,” all because a volunteer got some powdered doughnut sugar on his sleeve. Lois Reitzes, host of “Second Cup Concert” among others, got a shiner at the close of last year’s Fall drive when “Marketplace” host Amy Kiley put a tote bag over her head and starting beating her with a wireless keyboard, compliments of LeapFrog. Apparently Lois had made some comment about how her listeners were the only ones with any class and money.
Of course, only part of the job is down at the station. Very often I’ll have to go throughout the community in search of leeches who are listening remorselessly at everyone else’s expense. In the old days they’d have me go to Waldenbooks and coffee shops to rough up freeloaders, but the station’s appeal has grown and now I may be deployed to office parks and hair salons. Still however, our largest group of listeners and broadcast bandits do so in their cars. Confronting people while driving is the hardest way to wrest payment from these criminals, so we started to promote what’s known as the “driveway moment” in order to trap these felons. Pretty simple idea devised by “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep. He figured anyone who remains mindlessly sitting in his car upon reaching a destination would almost certainly be listening to NPR, and, given the high probability that this person is also stealing radio, this sort would become a sitting duck for our squad of justice hunters. We’ve been talking up driveway moments for years now, and it has worked! Our capture to confession ratio has skyrocketed since we launched this operation, and it certainly seems to help that this is a moment of weakness for the listener. Often I’ll even get them to pledge for past year’s offenses!