Saturday, April 29, 2017


The day after a Shuffle Function 24 Hour Pledge Drive A-Go-Go always feels weird.  After four months of prep and 24 hours of sleep deprived chaos there's this calm that we don't really know what to do with.  I got about 14 hours of sleep, and that mostly did the trick for rest, but this marathon was the roughest physically for both Shelley and I.  We don't have any reasons for why that was, because there's no such thing as typical for these things.  Doing the same thing always gets different results, so predicting how we'll feel or how things will go is pointless.  The important thing is that we survived.

This was the first time that we've done the Pledge Drive A-Go-Go at the tail end of the marathon.  Usually it has been during the first Thursday and Friday of the drive, but Gully wanted to try something different this year.  Change is always weird, but I was excited to go into it with an idea of how much the station needed to raise to hit the big goal.  The station staff and other people we talked to were into the idea, so we changed it up.  Honestly, the extra week to get mentally prepped for the big day was pretty welcome!

This entire drive had been defined by the power of the matching grant.  We had several area organizations, businesses, and individuals that stepped up and wanted to make their donation more effective by using it to double the pledges from generous KMSU Radio Heroes.  The effectiveness of these matching grants was apparent from the first day of the drive, when KMSU raised $3000 during the morning show alone!  Every day we had grants of different sizes put into play, and KMSU listeners rose to the challenge at every turn.  Their belief in the station and the importance of an independent media voice in the community was backed up with their pledges, and it was inspiring and humbling.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  KMSU listeners are the greatest in the world!

The day of the marathon started out with an anonymous $2000 matching grant.  The donor said we had until 8:00 a.m. on Friday to hit the goal, and if we raised the necessary $2000 from listeners KMSU would hit the $30,000 needed for the entire drive.  This was intimidating, because Radio Heroes had already been so generous over the past week, but we believed that they would step up and match it.

By the time the marathon began we were down to $1500 left to raise.  Pledges of all sizes started coming in, chipping away at the amount and pushing us closer to the goal.  By nine p.m. when Radio Roulette began we only needed a few hundred dollars to reach the goal.  Maybe it was the fact that this round of Radio Roulette was possibly the greatest round ever played, but the goal was met before the end of the hour!  By ten p.m. on the second to last night of the drive KMSU had met its total drive goal!  This, however, left us in an unprecedented situation.

In years past we've tended to end pledge drives when we've hit these goals, but this year was different.  After Gully set the drive goal there were suddenly some major expenditures that appeared on the horizon.  The board in the main broadcast booth has begun acting glitchy, with buttons sticking and faders malfunctioning.  If you think of the transmitter as the engine of the station, then the board is the steering wheel, and you can't really operate things without that.  On top of this, there is a MAJOR component with a fancy robot name that has begun acting up.  It's the part responsible for getting the radio broadcast to the tower, so it's kind of a big deal.  That piece alone costs around $6000!    Needless to say, a station like KMSU is not drowning in funds, so there was no other choice but to keep going if we hit the drive goal.  We needed some rainy day funds, and the forecast predicted storms that were not too far off.

We kept pitching, and listeners kept giving.  Even during the early morning hours people were calling and texting with their pledges.  People pledged for Jandek, which always thrills us!  We felt a little less pressure as we rolled through the night because the goal was met, but knowing how expensive these upgrades and repairs the station needs will be still gave us a sense of urgency.

The all vinyl morning show always gives us a shot in the arm because we have to start digging through crates for music and talking a bit more between songs.  Adding to this was a new wrinkle:  At six a.m. we were presented with a $5000 matching grant that had to be hit before six p.m.  If we hit that goal KMSU would have an additional $10,000 for the Rainy Day fund, which was almost exactly what we'd need to cover the major bills that are coming up.  It goes without saying that it was game on.

Anyone that listens to public radio will inevitably start to feel drive fatigue.  Since we had already been in the drive for a week and a half, and since so many Radio Heroes had given so generously during this period, we had no idea what to expect.  All we knew was that it would be fantastic to fill this Rainy Day fund up so that the station didn't have to struggle when the time came.  The best part of this situation, though, was that KMSU listeners understood how real this need was for us to meet this goal.  The phones never stopped ringing and people kept giving.  I get choked up just thinking about it.

We had another round of Radio Roulette at noon on Friday, and then at four The Frye came in to help us out.  They've been great supporters of KMSU over the years, and it's always a treat to have them stop in to help us pitch.  The incredible thing about this situation, though, is that we only had to raise a couple hundred dollars to hit that matching grant.  Sure enough, within about 20 minutes the grant was met, and KMSU had raised an additional $10,000 in funds.  By the end of The Frye's appearance KMSU was well past $41,000 total funds raised, and the phones didn't stop ringing.  It was amazing.

Shelley and I were completely exhausted at this point, and the excitement of the entire marathon and pledge drive came crashing down on us.  Even the CD players started giving up, and the last hour was kind of a glorious mess.  Still, there was joy in the room and in the station.  This turned into the most successful pledge drive that KMSU has had in the sixteen years that we have been doing the show.  It was a glowing example of what can be done when community comes together for something that they believe in.

We want to thank Team Sister (Carrie, Cindy, Honorary Sisters Scooter Polanski and Ben) and surprise Team Sister Member Stacy, Shelley's twin, who drove all the way from Tennessee without telling us just so she could participate in a Pledge Drive A-Go-Go.  Thanks to Gully for helping out and believing in our crazy ideas.  Thanks to The Frye for musical support and making us laugh to tears in the 23rd hour of the drive.  Thanks to Weggy's, Dunkin' Donuts, and Pagliai's Pizza for feeding us.  Thanks to Shelley's mom for the world's best Maid-Rites and potato salad.  Major thanks to all the people, organizations, and businesses that bet on KMSU listeners and put up very generous matching grants to help us hit so many goals.  I'm sure there are many others that I'm missing with my hazed brain, but believe us when we say that you are all the best.

Most of all, thanks to all the KMSU Radio Heroes that always go above and beyond to help keep this wonderful little radio station on the air.  Your generosity is such a major driving force behind everything we do, and we're grateful and humbled by it.  I've said it a million times before, and at least once in this post, but KMSU listeners are the greatest in the world.  Anyone who says otherwise is a fool.

Also, Nikko and John were two Radio Heroes that stayed up and checked in with us through the entire marathon.  You guys are nuts, but thank you.  We appreciated the company.

Don't forget that Grind-Fu Cinema returns TONIGHT with a crazy action double feature.  The Guy From Harlem (back for the seventh year by popular demand) and For Y'ur Height Only, featuring 2' 9" action hero Weng Weng.  Also, this double feature is FREE, so please go so we can thank you in person!  It's going to be so much fun, and Grind-Fu audiences are the best.



Saturday, April 29th @ 7:00pm
Wiecking 220 Auditorium
Minnesota State University, Mankato






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