Way We Were: Funding the local radio | ParkRecord.com

Way We Were: Funding the local radio

Barbara Bretz
Park City Museum researcher
A KPCW fundraiser with Blair Feulner and Don Gomes.
Park City Historical Society & Museum, Myles Rademan Collection

This is the second article in a four-part series.

In 1978 Blair Feulner, the future general manager of KPCW, went public with plans for a local radio station. As a non-commercial station, KPCW could ask the community for support (and would need to).

Support it the community did. Over 200 Parkites showed up at Car 19 Restaurant and Bar (now Flanagan’s on Main) full of enthusiasm and enough donations to cover the application fees from the FCC. Syd Reed, longtime Parkite and original supporter and volunteer for KPCW, reflected on those early fundraisers during KPCW’s 25th Anniversary celebration in 2005, saying “When the radio station started, everybody was at the Car 19. Everybody wrote a check and we still do write checks to KPCW because this is our town. If we didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.” July 2020 marks the station’s 40th anniversary.

Pledge drives are common for nonprofit stations, but when Susan Finegan came on board in 1982 as development director, she made unique enhancements to the system, creating what she called “room mothers” to be in charge each day to encourage their circle of friends and family to donate. KPCW still recruits various community groups to sponsor an hour each day and reach out to their employees, clients and fans to call in during that hour.

In a 2005 interview Finegan explained, “When I started we were so isolated from other public TV and radio stations we didn’t have any example to follow. So we didn’t know we were supposed to buy tote bags and mugs. We went out and begged (for) ski passes from Deer Valley and meals from restaurants and banana splits from Dairy Queen.” In 1984 she added the silent auction piece, which exponentially increased donations.

Finegan retired in 2005 but her ideas have been expanded and refined in the 15 years since. The very first pledge drive netted $6,000. In 1984 KPCW overshot a $15,000 goal by $8,500. KPCW sets a much higher goal now — the last regular pledge drive held in March brought in $205,000.

The fundraising has not always been limited to pledge drives and silent auctions.

If you’ve been around since the early 1980s perhaps you attended or performed in one of the KPCW Air Band Competitions. Rick Brough, who was a reporter for The Park Record at the time, recalls that the competitions went on for a couple of years and featured acts that lip-synched or acted out popular tunes. “I remember one prize winner was a couple that acted out the entire story of Meatloaf’s ‘Paradise By the Dashboard Lights,’” he noted.

Today, KPCW hosts two annual music-filled fundraisers: Back Alley Bash in the summer and the Main Street Music Crawl in the fall.

To see some early scripts for KPCW programs, head to the Park City Museum’s website to browse the KPCW Radio collection finding aid and schedule an appointment in the Research Library.


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