When I compile stories of radio stations making a difference in their local communities, I get emotional. I feel happy because our industry is making a difference. I feel optimistic because humanity is hearing the need and answering with a resounding, “Yes, we can help.” Mostly, I feel proud.
An iHeartMedia Milwaukee radiothon raised $293,500 for Make-A-Wish Wisconsin, an organization that grants wishes to children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. Pictured holding the “total raised” sign are Dave Murphy and Meg McKenzie mornings on 97.5 BIG FM surrounded by staff and volunteers from Make-A-Wish.
What’s more fun than a bus stuffed full of toys? Pittsburgh’s WKST(FM) has been doing a fundraiser that involves just that for 13 years now.
Kick off your New Year by checking out these heartwarming success stories, collected from announcements received at Radio World.
FOR THE KIDS AND CURES
● Imagine 57 busses jammed with toys for kids. That was the scene last month in Pittsburgh as WKST(FM) “KISS” 96.1 held its 13th annual “Stuff A Bus” event. KISS received toys from listeners, local schools, public safety departments and businesses. They beat last year’s total by five full busses.
● During its 16th annual St. Jude Kids Radiothon, Detroit’s WYCD(FM) raised $551,272 for the national research hospital. This event was especially emotional for the station because many donations were dedicated in honor of WYCD’s own Linda Lee, who has been on the country station’s airwaves for 20 years. Linda had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer just a few months before the event, and while at the hospital, she urged listeners to be “partners in hope” by pledging $20 per month for a year.
Kip Moore, who was wrapping up 2016 with 20 sold-out shows, took time out of his busy schedule to appear at the radiothon and encourage listeners to join the battle against childhood cancer. This was a near-record year for WYCD.
KMLE(FM) blanketed the Phoenix airwaves with the KMLE Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Radiothon Dec. 1–2 raised a total of $314,520.
WYCD(FM) held its 16th annual 99.5 WYCD Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Radiothon Dec. 8–9. Over the course of the two days, 99.5 WYCD listeners called in with donations totaling $551,272 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
● Nashville FM stations WKDF, WGFX, WQQK, WWTN and WSM collected thousands of toys for kids as well as gifts for seniors in need during their 9th annual Salvation Army Forgotten Angel program. “Today was a great day that will help us provide for those in need in our community,” Major Ed Lee, Salvation Army area commander, said of the event.
● Bexar County, Texas, has 25,000 kids in need who will have a sweeter holiday season thanks to WOAI(AM/TV) in San Antonio. During their Radiothon and Silent Auction, the staff raised $243,034 in just two days.
Louise Locker is the woman behind the Elf Louise Christmas Project. She is in her 48th year of delivering toys and other gifts.
“I can’t begin to thank you enough,” said Locker. “The spirit was amazing and kept everyone going. So many children will have a happier Christmas this year, thanks to all of you!” Nearly 5,000 volunteers process applications, wrap presents and route the Santa team to deliver gifts.
● The Children’s Miracle Network at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was the beneficiary of $309,925 raised by 98.1 WOGL during their “WOGL Loves Our Kids Radiothon.” Funds raised are earmarked for patient care programs such as support groups, creative arts therapies and social workers. Services are offered to every child at the Children’s Hospital.
KLUC(FM)’s 18th Annual Chet Buchanan & the Morning Zoo Toy Drive filled 30 different 50-foot trailers with toys, along with 6,700 bikes (shown here) and $442,669 in cash and gift cards.
“Todd & Jayde in the Morning” co-hosts are shown on stage with psychic John Edward, as well as Phil Salerno, president & chief development officer of the Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation at the third annual live broadcast and Holiday Party for the Kids in New York.
Cumulus’ WWKI(FM) of Kokomo, Ind., recently helped We Care raise $436,192, which was donated to the local Salvation Army, The Goodfellows, Kokomo Rescue Mission, Bona Vista and Mental Health Association. The 44th We Care Telethon volunteers answer phones during the 48-hour event, broadcast on WWKI and on television on Dec. 2-4, 2016.
● In just 13 hours, Cleveland’s Star 102 raised $247,620 to benefit UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. Morning show hosts Jen Toohey and Tim Richards interviewed patients and doctors to help raise the funds.
“If I don’t have a coat, I’m going to be very cold, and if I do, I’m going to be very happy, because I won’t be cold, and I’ll stay warm for the whole winter,” said nine-year-old Tristan Jenkins. Thanks to the Charm City’s WBAL(AM), Tristan and lots of other people will be warmer this winter in Baltimore. The station collected 816 coats for local kids during their “Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Coat Drive.”
● KFI(AM) Los Angeles’ Tim Conway Jr. made a huge difference for 11-year-old Jack Chavez. Jack had lost his Dad three years earlier and called the show because his father used to listen to the station while he was getting dialysis. Conway engaged him in conversation, and Jack — who has congenital heart disease — mentioned that he would be spending his birthday in the hospital. Conway responded with a GoFundMe page, which enabled the station to raise $34,000 to help pay off bills and to help fund the college education that Jack’s father always wanted for him. They also sent Jack and his mother to Disneyland to help him celebrate his birthday.
FOR THE TROOPS
● In the nation’s capital, WMAL’s 13th Annual WMAL(AM/FM) / Fisher House Radiothon raised $491,064 so that families of injured servicemen and women have a place to stay while their loved ones are being treated. WMAL PD Bill Hess commented, “I remain in awe of WMAL listeners. They have generously donated some $5.4 million over the last 13 years in support of this wonderful organization and its mission.”
The coolest part about this list is that we have so many more to share and will do so in upcoming issues of Radio World. I hope this inspires you to take a close look at the calendar this month and then plan to do good!
The author is president of Lapidus Media. Email him at[email protected].
Tell Mark about your own community benefit success story, and include a fun photo or two of your own.