Your support is being used wisely

April marks the beginning of spring and the scheduled end of the New York State budget process.  Both could benefit from more sunshine.
With no warning and no explanation, the Governor’s proposed 50% reduction in State operating aid for public broadcasting is a serious and unprecedented blow (and out of line with other reductions in education). While our local legislative delegation has been extremely supportive of our efforts to restore at least part of the cut, one thing is certain – we will have to absorb a serious reduction in support for educational programs and services in the coming year.  This makes your support – membership, program underwriting, production funding, and planned gifts – more important than ever (individual giving, at more than $3 million a year, remains our largest source of revenue).

In these difficult economic times you have a right to ask if your support is being used wisely and if it’s making a difference.  While budgets may be decided by “three men in a room” in Albany, WXXI’s Karen DeWitt is there watching every step of the process.  Her daily reports on AM 1370 and WRUR-FM keep you informed about the ways your tax dollars, along with the State’s portion of federal stimulus money, are being spent.  Karen is also a regular contributor to New York Now on WXXI-TV.  I hope you agree that in-depth reporting from the State Capital is a good investment – along with our dues to NPR for award-winning coverage of national and international events on the radio.

I trust you agree that our dues to PBS, which help support The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Frontline, Nova, Washington Week and other public affairs programming are dollars well invested. Additionally, Need to Know, our weekly television public affairs program, brings you in-depth coverage on local issues, with a special focus on the economy in recent months.

How do others view our program investments? WXXI just received two Bronze Telly Awards recognizing episodes of our national health series, Second Opinion.  This program, a partnership with the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), is making a difference in healthcare here in the Rochester area and throughout the nation.  One example – our new Caregiver’s Diary and Resource Guide helps individuals manage their loved ones’ healthcare. This is part of the Second Opinion for Caregivers initiative, supported by a grant from the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation. The initiative is designed to empower the more than 50 million Americans caring for a family member, friend, or loved one. Thirty thousand guides will be distributed to PBS stations across the country to share with their communities.

Recently, when an independent producer decided to feature our Rochester Red Wings baseball team in a 13-part series, he asked WXXI to help and present the show nationally. When Chicago’s public television station, WYCC, put a focus on jazz in March they selected WXXI’s productions from the Rochester International Jazz Festival as their featured programming.  When almost any arts and cultural organization or educational institution in town is looking for a media partner, they turn to WXXI first – because we believe that when we help another organization be more successful, it benefits all of us.

If you made a gift during our recent television “pledge drive” or clicked on to make your voice heard in Albany, thank you!  Your financial support and your advocacy make a real difference.  Our “pledge” back to you is that we’ll continue to work hard to merit your trust, and even in the most difficult of times, stay true to the mission of public broadcasting.  And while we can’t control the weather, our reporters in Washington, Albany and right here at home will do their best to shed light on the stories that matter to you – every day!

Norm Silverstein
WXXI President & CEO