I got the idea for PLEDGE because I was annoyed by pledge drives I’d been hearing since the mid 90s, and I decided I wanted to rant about them. But I quickly realized that public radio is in a terrible spot between money and mission. Going deeper, I learned of things affecting the genre that most people never consider as they listen to their regular shows for days, weeks, months and years on end.
They include hunts for the ultimate content sharing technology, public radio’s struggles to not lose its soul to corporate money, how it must surveil its listeners to serve them without treating them like numbers or “prey”, how budget cuts can make stations change character or disappear altogether and finally, keeping affiliates from feeling bypassed by networks that have found workarounds to their audiences. I want readers to buy the book because public radio needs them to understand it much better than they currently can. That’s because public radio hides its problems and convinces the world that everything is fine while facing stress fractures in every direction. It needs to be as open and honest about what it essentially is and needs as when it asks for money. A greater public can more fully support it only if they know the real deal.