The author is president of the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Commentaries from the foundation are a recurring feature on radioworld.com.
The giving time of year is upon us and radio stations across the country will be conducting drives for the charitable causes that help listeners, or their friends or families, in need. No other medium can generate the generous response to charitable causes like radio … we rally our audiences to help others. That’s part of our public service, and we do it earnestly and well.
What happens when the victim is one of our own? When an unforeseen tragedy befalls a member of the broadcasting community? The Broadcasters Foundation of America is the only charity devoted exclusively to helping broadcasters in need. Our grant recipients are your colleagues! Broadcasting professionals who worked at radio and TV stations and had meaningful careers in engineering, programming, on-air, production, sales, management and more. Now, these same broadcasters are destitute because of severe illness, accident or even advanced age.
With the support of individual broadcasters and numerous broadcast companies, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided financial assistance to thousands of radio and TV broadcasters and their families for more than 60 years. Since 2000, the Broadcasters Foundation has disbursed $7 million in grants at an alarming escalating rate, as indicated on the accompanying chart. That means more broadcasters need more help every day.
You may want to help them, but you may not be sure how. You want to respect their privacy and dignity, while lending a helping hand. They, too, may want to seek help, but are at a loss of where to turn.
That’s when the Broadcasters Foundation of American can step in. We are the haven in the dark that can make the difference in the lives of these broadcasters. Monthly grants from the Broadcasters Foundation help pay for exorbitant medical bills and basic living expenses. The Foundation also provides one-time emergency grants to offset the destruction caused by natural disasters like floods and hurricanes.
The main source for these monthly and emergency grants comes from the Foundation’s Guardian Fund. Contributions to the Guardian Fund have ranged from $50 a month up to $50,000 (and over) because of several very generous benefactors. Every amount helps. Our profession is large in numbers and large in caring! Collectively, we can come together through the Broadcasters Foundation to help colleagues who have found themselves in unthinkable circumstances.
Here’s a note we received from a radio talk show host and one of the many broadcasters who we help: “While lying in a hospital bed last January, my daughter… read me my mail, and within the mail was your lovely, life-saving, generous letter assuring me of the Broadcasters Foundation of America’s continued support. OH MY GOD! It brought true tears of joy to my eyes, and … your compassion, as I lay in hospital bed, [was] some very, very warm news indeed. And what perfect timing!”
The Broadcasters Foundation is really all about taking care of our own. Our essential work is dedicated to helping broadcasters and their families who find themselves in devastating circumstances. When unforeseen disaster or medical emergencies strike without warning, we are often the only safety net, providing not only much-needed financial assistance, but also a shoulder to lean on.
Another one of our grant recipients, a radio business manager, expressed it well in a recent note: “Yes, you and the Foundation even affect the Quality of my Life, psychologically, by making me more upbeat, energetic and creative. What your grant does for me is amazing. By some kind of osmosis, it makes me feel close to the people and profession I love and thus more lively, upbeat and confident.”
This is the kind of impact we can have. The more support we have, the more colleagues we can help. As you look over our list of board of directors, you will recognize many leaders and prominent individuals from radio and television. These broadcasters are doing some of the best volunteer work of their lives. You can be sure they are careful and dedicated stewards.
We hope you are never in a position to need charity. But with your support, we can ensure that no broadcaster’s cry for help goes unanswered. Please, visit our website at www.broadcastersfoundation.org and click on the “How To Help” button. You can also contact us at (212) 373-8250 or [email protected].
Jim Thompson is president of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, the only charity devoted exclusively to helping broadcasters in need. A long-time broadcaster,hewaspresident of Group W Radio and owned Liberty Radio Group, a group of 19 stations in the northeast, with Mike Craven. During his career, he has served on the boards of numerous industry organizations.