This is one of those I wish it wasn’t needed posts … the annual Shareathons.
I do a lot of online listening, so in the space of a couple of weeks I’ve heard the pitches from my local Family Life Network, the national feeds from K-Love, Air-1 and Family Life Radio, plus a few local stations, the most recent being a Fish feed from Arkansas which was hyping a Food for the Poor campaign.
All these stations are listener supported. In other words, they need the support from listeners to bankroll programming and operational costs. Typically, they make the on-air solicitation over a few days twice a year. It ain’t cheap.
Over the past few years, the on-air personalities have gone out of their way to make the giving experience a fun experience. They offer prizes and incentives to bring in the bucks, ranging from bricks of Christian CDs to electronic bundles to cruises and vacation packages. They weave in testimonials from listeners about the value of Christian programming or how that particular song or teaching program was “discovered” at just the right moment to change a life. And they often tease listeners with “challenges”.
I get it. I understand the need. I appreciate the light-hearted touch for a serious topic. After all, without support, these stations would be off the air. We need them to be alive and well in an increasingly secular world. While in some cases they are the only church some people hear, everyone of them will tell you they are a supplemental arm of your local church.
But I do sometimes cringe when I hear the on air pitches. Without realizing it, many of the personalities seem– at least to me — more like boardwalk barkers with their “Woo Hoos” and “Will you be the first [or next] to …” I envision some sleight of hand tactic when giving is tied into “challenges” or references to first time givers or ringing phones in the background or “closing a door” to the phone room to whisper a special financial challenge.
Again, I understand. I wish it wasn’t necessary but it is. Pandering is a necessary part of the process, but the needs often get buried under the saccharine.
How can the message of need get out without the carnival side show? Am I alone in my thinking?
I don’t have a solution, but would love to hear your thoughts.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed. — Michael Jordan