Posts Tagged "for-shame"

The Psychology of Pledge Drives

Published on February 13, 2009
Female Operator

Before I get to the actual point of this post, allow me to rant just a little. What’s up with the increasing number, and more importantly the duration, of public radio/television pledge drives? Our local public television station, UNC-TV, will be starting their Festival drive in February, and it will last for more than a month (February 21 to March 29)! If this kind of thing happened just once a year, I wouldn’t care so much. However, two months ago, the station had its Winterfest drive (November 30 to December 14). Occasionally, they’ll even have a drive in August! Public television clearly needs commercials. I would suggest having commercials between the television shows they offer, so as to keep the ‘commercial-free’ feel of today. Just my 2 cents.

Back to the real topic. Driving home yesterday, I listened to a little bit of our local public radio station. They are currently in the midst of their pledge drive, so programming is light and begging for pledges is heavy. In the midst of their asking for donations, you often hear the sound of telephones in the background. And I’m talking old school telephones. Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane and have a history lesson.

Back before the digital revolution, telephones had bells in them. Yes, physical bells. When someone called you, a small hammer oscillated between two of these bells, causing the telephone to ‘ring’ (hence the term ‘ringing’ someone). I haven’t seen one of these telephones in probably 20 years or more. Yet, during these public entertainment pledge drives, you hear them ringing constantly.

The funniest circumstance of this is found during the public television pledge drive. Volunteers can be seen in the background sitting at computers with their operator-style headsets. No telephones can be seen during this time. And, occasionally, none of the operators are talking. Yet the ringing goes on. So where are those ringing sounds coming from? Are the computers synthesizing the sound? Or is it a gimmick being pulled from the control booth?

I like to think it’s the latter. On my way home yesterday, while listening to the radio, I got thinking about this phenomenon. There must be a point at which this ringing trickery yields the greatest ROI, right? And someone must have figured this out. I’m no statistician, and I’m no psychologist, so the following logic is simply me thinking aloud. If the ‘phones’ were constantly ringing off the hook, with no breaks in between, it seems to me that listeners would be less likely to call in and pledge (why pledge, when everyone else is doing it for me?). Likewise, if the phones were too silent, listeners again might be less inclined to call (silence won’t prompt the listener into action). So the answer certainly lies somewhere in between. I’m guessing that, if the ringing is indeed a trick, the frequency of said ringing is somewhere on the lower end of the spectrum. As a radio station, you want to sound needy, but not too needy. Others are supporting us; why won’t you?

I’d love to know where the middle ground really is. Maybe an influential politician will happen upon this post and decide to funnel some of our country’s economic stimulus package into a research program on this topic. Our nation’s public media outlets might depend on it. 😉

Pushing Daisies Cancelled

Published on November 25, 2008

Damn ABC! Damn everyone that won’t damn ABC! Damn everyone that won’t put lights in his window and sit up all night damning ABC!

(Apologies to all my U.S. history professors. For those in the dark, here’s the cultural reference to the above joke.)

I simply don’t understand it. An incredibly clever, imaginative, and entertaining television show gets canceled because it’s not getting the ratings the executives want. This proves that creativity has no place anymore in Hollywood. In short, it’s not a crime drama, a medical drama, or a reality show, apparently making it the scourge of the land. Maybe the fact that the network didn’t advertise the show has something to do with it. Or perhaps we can blame the failing economy. Either way, I’m disappointed.

I have truly lost what little faith I had left in television. All the more reason not to watch it. My only hope is that Bryan Fuller will come through on his promise to finish out the story with either a movie or through comic books. What a dark day.

The Loss of the English Language

Published on May 27, 2007

The English language has been sliding down the quality charts for a number of years now, and today it’s at an all time low. People’s grasp on grammar and spelling is tenuous at best. Take this story, for example. Note the sign in the picture (“Let are kids walk”). Are people really so ignorant that they would confuse the words ‘are’ and ‘our’? Sadly, this isn’t just a problem that surfaces in the general public. Professional editors are letting more and more errors slip by as can be found in this New York Times article on Jonathan Coulton. One sentence in the article reads “They pore over his blog entries…” Do you see the error in this sentence? I certainly hope so. I got this one wrong folks. Thanks to Kip for correcting me! 🙂 The very next sentence should explain why I made the mistake.

I was taught somewhere between little and no English grammar in school. At certain points, I’ve tried to better my use of the language on my own, through books like The Elements of Style. But self education for this kind of thing just isn’t good enough (at least for me). I really wish I had been given a decent education on this stuff, and judging by the way people are failing to use English every day, I really wish educators took it more seriously.

The NCAA Tournament is a Sham

Published on March 16, 2007

I’m not much of a sports fan, and I know very little about sports in general. But one thing that I do know for certain is that the NCAA tournament is one of the biggest jokes in the entire universe. How can a team that performed as poorly as Duke did this season make it in, while a comparable NC State team, who knocked off number 2 and 3 seeds in the ACC tournament, be relegated to the NIT? The answer to that question has to be the word money, though I’m not quite sure of the particulars.

Regardless of all that, Duke lost in the first round. How awesome is that? And NC State won their first round game. Perhaps there is a little justice in the sports world after all…

Blond Bimbos Gone Wild

Published on February 21, 2007

There’s nothing that says “my career as a popular icon has hit rock bottom for good” more than shaving your head, getting a tattoo, and wearing a blond wig with gigantic, Cobra-style sunglasses. I’ve never had any respect for Britney Spears, so I’m really not moved by her latest cry for attention. What really makes me laugh, however, is the fact that semi-respectable people are saying that we shouldn’t poke fun at Ms. Spears, since she’s going through a “tough time” right now.

Get serious.

Everyone should be making fun of her non-stop. She has now entered the realm of Michael Jackson and Mike Tyson; everything she ever does from here on out will be a joke. I say that we get the most entertainment out of her while we can. Let the late night jokes commence!

Just Plain Wrong

Published on May 21, 2006

I don’t follow horse racing at all, nor do I have any interest in the Kentucky Derby. But I wasn’t surprised when I heard that the Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro broke its leg in the Preakness. Not too long ago, I watched a 60-Minutes episode on ESPN Classic (from way back in 1979) that discussed horse doping, and its surprisingly legal status in the world of horse racing. Apparently, horse owners drug their horses with pain-killing “medication,” allowing them to run a race even when they really shouldn’t. It’s a shame that this kind of thing goes on, especially since horses can’t tell people how they feel. Hopefully this tragic turn with Barbaro will be the wake-up call the horse racing world needs.

The Downfall of Google

Published on January 27, 2006

Can Google be losing it? Not only have they signed a deal with the devil (by buying a stake in AOL), but now their folding under pressure to China. What happened to Do No Evil? Apparently that mantra has been thrown out the window.

Agreeing to censor search results is cowardice; there’s no other way to put it. Excuses like “well, it’s the law in China” or “it’s all about the money we’re making” are weak. You aren’t a Chinese company (hence you don’t need to bow to their laws) and there’s plenty of money to be made in all of the other countries of the world.

I once had a great faith in Google. I was certain that they would be the ones to bring down Microsoft. And they still may. But the course they’re on now appears to be leading towards bad things. Now that Google has fallen, who’s left to look up to?

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