UMFM is home to many dedicated volunteers and staff, kick-ass local bands on the airwaves, a wide variety of programming and the second annual Pledge-O-Rama, the campus radio’s pledge drive.
Station manager Jared McKetiak spoke with BeatRoute about the importance of this event.
“When we started in 1998, UMFM was able to operate successfully without having to seek outside sources of income. The lion’s share of our operating budget has always been student fees, as well as a small amount of advertising revenue, which had always been enough to ensure that that the station could continue on year in and year out. The cost of running the radio station continued to rise steadily but our funding from the University held static throughout the years.”
That, combined with declining advertising income, led the station to consider other avenues for revenue. Looking to other campus radio stations, they saw the success of listener donations, and Pledge-O-Rama was born.
“To put it bluntly, we’ve been running the station on roughly the same amount of funding since 1998 – while the costs associated with running the radio station continue to rise, our funding stays the same, and its gotten to a point where the numbers just don’t add up anymore,” McKetiak explains.
Last year’s drive was the first go at it and the tireless efforts of many volunteers led to over $33,000 raised – far above the $20,000 goal. Seeing the success of 2012, the organizers’ ambition has grown. October’s drive goal has been raised to $24,000, though McKetiak reminds listeners that UMFM wouldn’t mind surpassing their goal again this year.
“It was also pretty mind-blowing to see the overwhelming generosity and support from the listeners who donated to the station. Getting to meet many of them in person and hearing them talk about the positive impact that UMFM has had on their lives over the past 15 years was pretty humbling. To feel that kind of support was beyond unbelievable and it helped to reinforce the importance of what we do at UMFM on a daily basis.”
McKetiak stresses the need for these funds. The money raised goes directly back into the station for vital things like mics, headphones, cables and consistent monthly costs, such as the radio tower rent and utilities.
“If we’re not constantly worrying about how to pay the bills, we can start focusing our attention towards creating more opportunities for and developing the skills of our volunteers – which in turn makes for better radio for our listeners.”
Pledge-O-Rama isn’t only advantageous for the station. Supporters — along with all the drunk undergrads on campus — can check out the Pledge-O-Rama wrap party at the local U of M watering hole, the HUB on Oct. 25.
Moreover, pledgers can expect a Friends With Benefits card, giving you access to discounts for many Winnipeg locations, a two-disc mix of in-station recordings from some of the city’s local artists on Volume Two of Transmissions From MFM 101.5, daily draws for Half Pints prize pack for those pledgers of over $75 and about a million other incentives.
With no sign of an increased budget in the future, McKetiak said they are relying on the support of their loyal supporters and campus music lovers.
“Since we have no intention of asking the students of the University of Manitoba for an increase to their already generous contributions, we are now turning to our listeners for the assistance that will help define our future. With the cost of running a radio station on the rise it is important for UMFM to reach out to our listeners for support to help us continue to bring them the best quality programming for years to come.”
Pledge-O-Rama runs from Oct. 18 – 25. You can pledge by calling (204) 474-6610 or on umfm.com. You can check out more details on the drive and its events on the website or the station’s Twitter (@umfm) and Facebook.
By Rachel Wood