Message from the General Manager
For the past few years, my December column has been comprised of observations about how technology and media are changing. And it’s tempting to take the end of the year to mark another milestone on that road. But I won’t, other than to note almost half my columns this past year have been on that theme. I suppose that’s all that needs to be said about the pace of change in television and media.
Instead, I’ll take a more traditional approach and take a look back; in this case way back. As a member, you know your support is our biggest source of revenue and what sustains this service both here in western New England and across America. In 2013, we put a lot of effort into deeply examining the state of our membership model. During that process we uncovered something remarkable and gratifying: literally thousands of our members have been members for a really long time. In fact, roughly 1,000 families have been members for 25 consecutive years. They never missed one year. Incredible!
We wanted to connect with these folks. To that end, we invited them (actually, many of you), to visit the station for a tour, lunch, and conversation about public TV and public media. Although not everyone could take us up on the offer, most responded with gratitude for our recognition. For those who could make the visit, I can only hope that they got as much out of it as we did.
The staff and I were awed by our long-time members’ knowledge, understanding, and passion for the values that are the hallmarks of public TV. For instance, we professionals get the poll results that tell us PBS is the most trusted institution in America, but when we hear it from real people, who have proven their trust through decades of financial support, it is truly inspiring. It was terrific to have a group that didn’t need to be “sold” on public TV. We heard stories of what programs they remembered, like Death of a Princess, the early years of Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, Postcards from Buster, and yes, they even shared their stories about recent hits like Downton Abbey. They were grateful and proud of this work. Frankly, so were we.
Normally, storytelling is something we do at WGBY for viewers and members. It’s terrific when the tables are turned and we get to hear from them. Maybe you have a story of your own?
Thanks for your support. Whether it’s been ongoing for over 25 years or only since last week, it does make a difference.
Russell J. Peotter