Dear WGGD Team:
We may not be as big or as polished as other PBS outlets, but our buskers held their own—and then some—on our recent pledge drive. I’d like to share a few thoughts on this year’s successes and also offer some suggestions for improvement.
1. First, my pledge to you: I will not let another one of my daughters schedule a destination wedding in the Bahamas during pledge season. Had I been here, I think a lot of the issues I’m about to cover would be moot.
2. That said, in the words of our dear friend Gary Littman, you can’t argue with the numbers: WGGD brought in more than twice what we hoped we would raise and three times what we thought we could raise. I only wish Gary were here to share this glory, which is due in large part to his selfless (if witless) service.
3. Dottie’s Donuts has been exceedingly generous through the years, and it’s starting to show. Next season, can we work an elliptical machine or stationary bike into the act and maybe see if the food co-op will donate some trail mix and few crudité plates? I cannot help but think that if people were better fed, some of the glitches would have been ironed out in advance, not on air. What a difficult (and ironic) way for Ann Rivers to discover she is diabetic: passing out in the background while Ned Bennett introduced Second Opinion.
4. I am awed and amazed at the level of creativity and enthusiasm throughout the week. But let’s really try to think things through to their logical conclusion. Namely: the NOVA theme-song humming marathon, where we lost a lot of momentum—not to mention viewers. Perhaps a marathon-within-the-pledge-a-thon is just too meta, even for our audience.
5. Sally and Roxanne Chatoyant really deserve some credit for both trying to bring back the energy lost during the hum-a-thon and also reaching out to the Burning Man community. Flaming batons was a great idea; twirling and tossing them in the studio was not. Good job Rod Bacon with the stop, drop, and roll. While I am sorry for the loss of the velvet curtains, the lights, light fixtures, and Camera 2, it turns out that we brought in enough pledges that hour to replace what was lost. But let’s not push our luck.
6. As for bad luck, I know how hard it is to tell Gary Littman no—I had to do it many times. But I wish someone had, because while Gary’s prediction that “a bald guy trailing an IV will make those phones sing” was spot-on, also prescient was his oncologist’s warning that leaving his hospice bed would be the last cockamamie stunt he pulled.
7. Never—I mean never—schedule the Girl Scout troop and the winery folks on the same phone shift. Kids these days are precocious, but I don’t think anyone anticipated what 24 cadettes could do to a case of wine. We need not recount what it did to them. Our numbers actually went down that night, as the phones were jammed by concerned parents and, it would seem, the entire freshman class of St. John’s School for Boys calling in.
8. For those still wondering: Thursday’s spike was not prompted by an impromptu amateur enactment of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, but rather the real-life, real-time, on-air meltdown of Merv and Joanne Swenson’s 25-year marriage. The fact that the phones did not stop ringing for two hours afterward is cold comfort for the verbal thrumming Merv endured in front of our viewing audience. As a side note: One of the Girl Scouts later confided to me that Joanne looked “hella undone” when she entered the studio. I do not mean to imply that the unraveling was anybody’s fault, but perhaps there were some missed clues that tensions were running high.
9. Who came up with the slogan “Not the usual yuppie prigs”? My 12-year-old son was just beginning to feel he fit in in middle school, and then upon his return from vacation, discovered his classmates had found a new jeer. Big thanks to office manager Carol Cortrell for insisting we choose a PPO with mental health coverage.
10. If we are going to give away massages at the $200 level, we need to call a professional, not someone’s nephew who took an online class. While the live demonstration Leo did on Joanne did prompt a lot of calls, it also contributed to the aforementioned Swenson v. Swenson fracas—again, I mean no blame here, just making an observation.
I realize we are all tapped out, physically, mentally, and financially, but I want to ask everyone to dig deep and see if you can’t make a donation to the Gary Littman Memorial Fund. Cash only please—Merle doesn’t need any more casseroles or books on grieving; she needs a vacation, and I know a great place in Nassau where she can truly get away from it all. Donors at the $500 level receive a DVD of Gary’s live on-air passing, and top donor will inherit his signature IV martini decanter. Come on, people, bring it! I know you have it in you!