September 24th, 2009

la la la, not listening

On the psychology and economics of public radio pledge drives

So, I was driving home last night listening to my local NPR station, KQED, when they cut to a pledge break. Alas, perhaps, for KQED, I've also been listening to the audiobook of Chris Anderson's Free, which produced an interesting mental dialogue between me and the pledge commercial.

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So, here's the thing - I am one of that 10% who does donate to public radio. But the tone of pledge drives really annoys me - to the extent that I think it actually reduces my motivation to donate. I don't want to be told that I'm somehow a bad person for taking advantage of something that is provided for free, and that I must retrospectively make up for that badness by ponying up cash. That's not why I give to public radio. I give to public radio because I understand that the programming I enjoy costs money, and that the primary source of that money is donations. I'm making a rational economic choice, not paying for the absolution of sins.