Helping Hands From Coast to Coast

The National Association of Broadcasters this year put together a book, more than 90 pages long, touting the $9.6 billion it estimates member stations spent on community service in 2003. Politicians and public-interest groups question whether food drives for the poor or telethons are the best ways for radio and TV to serve the public interest. That debate goes on. And so do the stations' efforts:

KEYE Austin, Texas, raised $172,000 and helped over 100 animals find homes when it aired the Sixth Annual Pet Telethon
for the Austin Humane Society, a no-kill shelter that has saved approximately 2,700 animals in the past year.

In addition to airing its Community Champions
program, WMUR Manchester, N.H., produces public-service announcements and news features about a community-serving nonprofit organization chosen each quarter. In 2003, the station spent more than $45,000 in airing more than 600 PSAs and met with each charity to help determine other promotional services needed.

KIMT Mason City, Iowa, raised $4,000 for the Girl Scouts during its Family Fair, an event held at a shopping mall. The station arranges for items to be auctioned off there. It holds the fair twice a year to get residents involved with non-profit groups.

KTVX Salt Lake City
participated in Utah's statewide campaigns for immunization. The station drew attention to the state's low immunization rate among 2-year-olds. Along with the Utah Department of Health, the station sponsored the Immunization Care-a-Van, which traveled throughout the community offering free inoculations from April through November.

After giving $1 million in airtime in 2003, WGN Chicago
won the national Champions in Adoption Award in 2003 for its work with many adoption agencies in an effort to place older children in loving homes. WGN airs PSAs for individual children, including an 800-number for more information. This 11-year-old project has helped more than 50% of the sponsored children find homes.

WHNT Huntsville, Ala., hosted its third-annual cerebral palsy telethon and collected more than $140,000 over 31/2 hours. It also aired PSAs and news stories promoting the event.

WXYZ Detroit
participated with the Detroit Department of Health and others to sponsor Healthy Living for Kids, the 26th annual event offering children free immunizations.

After police reports revealed that a serial killer had abducted one of his victims with no sign of forced entry, WAFB Baton Rouge, La., began a campaign to remind the community of an old rule: Never open the door to strangers. The station distributed 50,000 "Ask First" door hangers that included the phone numbers of the local and state police, sheriff, fire department and EMS, as well as package-delivery and utility companies.

KDZA(FM) Pueblo, Colo., collected 23,000 pounds of donated food—enough to Stuff the Bus, as the campaign was called. It's all given to a local food bank. For the past eight years, the station arranged for transit authorities to pick up food from area businesses, schools and homes.

Every TV and radio newsroom in Los Angeles and San Diego worked long and dangerous hours fighting a series of wildfires last October. California's then-Gov. Gray Davis called it one of the biggest disasters in the state's history, destroying more than 2,400 homes. KTLA's Willa Sandmeyer (see photo on page 23) filed stories while surrounded by flames.

WMC(TV) and WMC(FM) Memphis, Tenn., activated their In the Line of Duty campaign this year to raise more than $200,000 to support the families of fallen police officers and firefighters. The stations announce collection efforts and provide news updates whenever a firefighter or police officer is killed on the job.

Since the surrounding Adair County was rated first nationally in the production and distribution of methamphetamine, KTVO Kirksville, Mo., has helped unite community leaders in speaking out against the problem. KTVO produced eight PSAs themed Stop the Infestation, Exterminate Meth and featuring many of the city's leaders in a chorus against the production of the drug.

In an effort to use their expertise to offer young people information and opportunities, WTIC
and WTXX Hartford, Conn., launched Fox 61 Student News in the mid-1990s. To learn about the broadcast-journalism business, students write, produce, direct, videotape and edit their own one-minute news stories. This year, more than 300 schools participated. WTIC and WTXX aired the best segments and gave participants written critiques of their productions.

WRTV Indianapolis
General Manager Don Lundy promised to remember Sept. 11 as a "day of giving." Last year, the station honored that promise with a blood drive at 13 Indiana blood center locations in Central Indiana. Regional residents donated more than 3,000 pints of blood. The station supported the event with PSAs, live coverage and news reports.

WTMJ(AM) Milwaukee, for the 11th year, spent five weeks getting its listeners to donate 10,000 teddy bears, which it distributes to police and fire departments to be given to children in crisis situations, like a domestic-abuse call or a house fire.

The largest local food-collection campaign in the region happens only one day a year. Begun by WISN Milwaukee, Food for Families is a 27-year-old campaign that uses PSAs and extensive news coverage to encourage community participation. Food for Families collected a record total of 636,000 pounds of food in 2003.

A major player in Hawaii Food Bank's effort once again, KGMB Honolulu
aired PSAs and news coverage before, during and after the statewide annual food drive. The station also produced a sort of how-to video for businesses interested in their own food drives to contribute to the greater effort. This year, Hawaii Food Bank was stocked with a record 500,000 pounds of food and $385,000 in cash.

Immediately following the start of combat operations in Iraq, WWTV and WWUP Traverse City, Mich., partnered with many community organizations, including the Marines and the Red Cross, to collect care packages. The Treats for Troops campaign's packages went to U.S. soldiers stationed overseas. PSAs and regular appeals encouraged viewers to contribute clothes, books, shaving cream, soap and other items. The Red Cross then packaged and delivered them.

KCNC Denver
teamed up with the local United Way to create a campaign designed to raise funds for National Guard and Army Reserve families in need. The three-month campaign amassed more than $150,000. KCNC used PSAs and news coverage to show the public the financial difficulties of families with members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Mile High United Way matched every dollar donated with 50¢ and helped collect money one day at a drive-though donation center that was set up outside KCNC's studio.

Compiled from NAB data by Abbie Jean Sparks