Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Ah, pledge season...

... that time of year when I listen to lots of CDs.

I mean, I really have to wonder at the wisdom of Public Radio Pledge Season. For two weeks, a couple of times a year, NPR insists on interrupting my radio broadcasts for about ten minutes (or more) of begging for money every half hour. It's remarkably irritating, and clearly a waste of my time, since they basically just say the same thing over and over again: "Pledge now, and win Cool Prizes!", in various permutations. Which is a potentially useful reminder for the first five seconds, and just annoying after that.

I believe that the theory here is that they need to give it ten minutes so that you will have time to go to your phone and make your pledge of support. But of course, I don't do anything of the sort: instead, I turn off the radio and listen to something else. This year I'll probably go back to listening to NPR afterwards (I've almost made it to the end of Pledge Season and I keep reflexively looking for the news), but often in the past I've simply been dehabituated from it, and stopped listening to the radio for *months* afterwards. (Usually because I find myself in the middle of a really good Teaching Company course instead. This time, I find myself in the middle of a remarkably weird disc of "music" from Matt Howarth, which is no threat to the news -- more on that anon.)

And y'know -- if pledging some money would make the damned advertisements *go away*, the blackmail might even work. But of course, it doesn't: instead, it simply validates their theory that these pledge breaks work. So as a matter of principle, I *don't* ever donate during Pledge Season. I'm fond of WBUR, and I'll give them some money sometime this year, but pointedly as far from Pledge Season as possible. And the result of this is that I probably give them *less* money than I otherwise would, since I actively put off donating any time around this thing.

I do find myself wondering if anyone's ever done a proper experiment on the subject. Spend a year doing something completely different: replace the two weeks of hell with more frequent but less intrusive one-minute spots, so that the listener is less inspired to turn away. (But not quite so constant as to make the listener simply stop noticing it.) Certainly it would get more money from *me*. I don't know overall, but I'd like to believe that there has to be some approach better than this counter-productive nonsense that simply makes some of us turn away from public radio entirely...

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