Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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January 17, 2007 |
I sent the following comments to my radio station that has just started its semiannual fund drive; I hope it serves for some consideration. Thanks.
I have been a supporter of WVXU over the past years and with the membership drive here again I want to call on the station to drop Prairie Home Companion.
Just recently this show has aired programs from Honolulu, New York City and San Francisco surely among the most expensive cities in the country. You make the case for supporting the radio station and how expenses are rising every year, but anymore I can only hear, "It's vitally important you do your part to send Garrison to Hawaii and Manhattan." As long as the show depends on the generosity of listeners (from whatever amount they are able to give as you ask) I think Mr. Keillor should demonstrate - and we should demand - some better discretion on how the funds the station spends so much effort in raising are spent.
The cost of PHC to the stations, John, is the same, whether we go to New York or Honolulu or, as we did this fall, to Music Hall in Cincinnati. What the stations pay for is the right to broadcast the show. The fee varies according to the size of the market so, for example, the Cincinnati station pays more than the station in Missoula and less than the station in San Francisco, and the travel schedule often isn't set in stone until the season is well underway. PHC is unusual among radio shows in that ticket revenue is a major part of the budget. In Honolulu, for example, we more or less paid for our travel expenses by doing two new shows in one day, a live broadcast in the early afternoon and another show in the evening which was taped for broadcast earlier this month. Two fresh monologues, new sketches, etc, all in one day. You seem to suggest that we're cruising around and enjoying the sights at the expense of the listeners. I don't think that's true. It is true that we stay in hotels and don't sleep on floors, as we did in the early days of the show, but we're all getting older, John, and we can't get along as cheaply as we used to. I would be happy to keep the show right here in Minnesota for thirty-three weeks a year, and not have to fly hither and yon, but stations want us to keep touring. The Cincinnati station wanted us to go there, and Hawaii Public Radio wanted us to come out there. Both earned revenue from our visits. Hope this clears up the matter.