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Radio, Taking Care of Its Own

Guardian Fund helps those overtaken by poor health, debilitating ailments and need

The authors are the chairman and vice chairmen, respectively, of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.

What is it about the Broadcasters Foundation of America that makes it so special and altogether unique?

iStockphoto/erhui1979 Well, for one thing we do have a clear and definite bias. To that we have to plead guilty. You could also say we are prejudiced. We help … only our own.

“Taking care of our own” is our mantra, our theme. It’s what we do. It’s why we exist. So call us what you will.

We do have that “bias” … toward our own, toward the hurting and almost forgotten broadcasters who have fallen on hard times. We work only in our own industry … among those who have labored in the profession you yourself have distinguished for so many years … which provided a platform for your own dedication, creativity and genius.

With your help, we provide emergency assistance to those less fortunate in our broadcasting fraternity, restoring dignity and bringing life’s necessities to many retired colleagues beset by misfortune.

And so we are asking again on their behalf. Once more we beg your forbearance for those in the profession who have been overtaken by poor health, sudden debilitating ailments and the unforeseen “diminishments” we all suffer.

Many were cut down in the prime of their lives by life-threatening illnesses or a sudden catastrophic episode for which their families were ill-prepared. And some of them were almost destitute. We’ve assisted widows struggling to hold shattered families together following the untimely death of a spouse. And sadly we find that many of those who rely on your generosity are now left without any insurance or government assistance of any kind. And so we’ve been called their “safety net” and “foul-weather friend.” Both appellations fit.

“Don’t let us forget who we are … and where we’ve come from.” — Mario M. Cuomo

You’re a very generous individual, and we’re not doubting the worthiness of the many local charities you’ve supported and blessed in your own neighborhood. We know a great many of our well-off colleagues and successful broadcasting brethren also contribute in their community and are generous supporters of libraries, religious organizations, food banks, United Way or college and university endowments.

We, on the other hand, offer only the deep personal gratitude spoken quietly on the lips and etched in the grateful hearts of fellow broadcasters and their families who have been assisted by your foundation. Our president Jim Thompson has very discreetly over the years shared with you some of those heartbreaking expressions of gratitude from the recipients of your past generosity and beneficence.

At this festive season of the year, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for those who suffer greatly. … So Dickens told us; and so I feel. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is the only charity devoted exclusively to helping broadcasters in need. Its leaders recently sent the accompanying letter to its donors; I share it as a reminder at this holiday season of our colleagues who most need our support.

— Paul McLane

Last year, relying on your essential and vital contributions to the Foundation’s Guardian Fund, we dispatched almost $850,000 in life-sustaining grants. We need your urgent assistance to continue that mission.

In recent years, contributions to our Guardian Fund have ranged from just a few well-intentioned dollars to well over $50,000 from several benefactors. And while we realize not everyone is capable of such magnificent generosity, we acknowledge our hope that this year you will consider a significant gift.

In this, our annual appeal, we again hope and pray that you will consider mailing a substantial contribution for this year’s Guardian Fund to the Broadcasters Foundation of America, c/o our president Jim Thompson in our New York office: 125 W. 55th Street, Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10019. Or you can donate online at by calling 212-373-8250. Please consider increasing your gift to help us be sure that no call ever goes unanswered.

Individual and corporate contributions to the Broadcasters Foundation of America, a registered 501(c)3 Public Charity, are fully tax deductible.

PS: Many individuals have identified their Guardian contributions as memorial tributes in the names of current family members, past associates and lifelong friends.