Riding the wave of pledges for cats, dogs, chickens, horses, sheep and other animals in the “Pet Wars” finale held April 21, Montana Public Radio raised $594,353 during its spring on-air fund drive – 99 percent of the $600,000 goal. Since the close of the on-air fundraising drive, mail-in contributions have been tallied and contributions have exceeded the goal by $592.
“It was, in many ways, a week of extremes,” said station manager William Marcus. “From the intense and serious coverage of breaking-news events, to the 981 pledges on behalf of listener’s pets,” Marcus said.
For the first time ever, the station suspended a portion of the on-air fundraiser to stay with NPR’s network coverage of breaking news after the Boston Marathon bombings.
“It was absolutely the right decision,” said Fundraising Director Linda Talbott. “Although we suspended some of the most productive fundraising hours of the week on Friday, our audience rallied to make up the difference with record-breaking cumulative donations on Saturday and Sunday,” Talbott said.
Cats pulled ahead to win Pet Wars with 1,477 votes and dogs coming in at 1,425. Supporters made more than 5,477 pledges during the week, and about 2,800 unique thank-you gifts were offered by listeners and businesses. The thank-you gifts included weekend cabin getaways, home-cooked dinners and treats, raft trips, books, CDs and live goats.
Program Director Michael Marsolek and all the senior staff at the station will read the listener comments and suggestions. Marsolek praised the on-air staff for their skill in navigating the seriousness of the week’s news alongside the positive spirit of the week’s celebration of public broadcasting.
“We really try to keep the Spring Pledge Week conversational and connected to our communities,” Marsolek said. “All week listeners told us how much MTPR means to them and where they listen.”
The MTPR spring fund drive represents about 46 percent of the total amount the station must raise from listeners and sponsors this year.
“People notice when you have such an outpouring of love and support for a community service like MTPR – we are proud to be the local source for NPR programming, and proud of the many local news and music programs that we produce, too,” Marcus said.
MTPR is a public service of The University of Montana and broadcasts from Missoula studios through transmitters in Missoula, Kalispell, Polson, Libby, Helena, Butte, Hamilton and Great Falls.