Behind the Scenes: Pledge Drive Q&A

December 12, 2014 Kait Vosswinkel Leave a Comment

Members of the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Madison volunteer at Wisconsin Public Television’s December pledge drive in 2014.

A few times a year, we call on all of our members and viewers to reach out and support our station. Pledge drive is an integral part of who we are and what we do at Wisconsin Public Television. But pledges aren’t just made of bright sets, dynamic shows, and constantly-ringing phones on stage. In fact, there’s a flurry of activity going on behind our doors that never quite makes it to the screen.

A big part of each pledge is driven by the volunteers and audience services representatives who give their time, patience and shreds of remaining sanity to make sure that everything comes together. I recently sat down with two volunteers and one audience services employee to really understand why our volunteers and representatives show up every day.

Qiushi Zheng, a Chinese foreign exchange student at UW-Madison, is involved in the Society for Human Resource Management, and chose to spend some of his volunteer hours taking phone calls at WPT.

Why did you decide to volunteer at WPT?
I’ve done tons of volunteering in the past, but I didn’t have a long-term fixed position. I feel good about it here, because people actually talk to you. I like the communication. They tell you how they feel about the shows you have on air.

What’s something that stands out to you after volunteering?
People here are really warm-hearted. They care about their environment and public activities. Chinese people don’t really have that same emotion. I talked to a woman who said she really enjoys what you offer. Even though she doesn’t have a huge budget, she’s still going to donate, which is great.

Katie Dreps has been working for WPT for about a year. On a normal day, Katie works as an audience service representative, speaking with members and viewers. During pledge drive, she handles the personal and financial information for donors, working as a data entry supervisor.

How does your job change during pledge?
What we do (during pledge drive) is pretty technical. It’s a lot of detail-oriented stuff. On a day-to-day basis, we do more what the volunteers are doing now. We field calls on everything from reception issues to schedule questions. During pledge drive we’re on the other side of the phones which is interesting.

What’s your favorite part of pledge?
It’s always really exciting when they’re doing live pledge. When you can see the pitchers asking people to call, phones ringing off the hook and the volunteers are all busy, it’s pretty fun.

My favorite part about pledge is talking to really nice people who love Wisconsin Public Television. They tell you how they watch it every day and how it’s the only channel they ever have on. Those people are always so nice, and it’s lovely to be able to say that you can pass those compliments on.

Joe Krzos was by far the most experienced volunteer I spoke with. Joe’s a part of the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Madison, and after 10 years volunteering with us during pledge, he’s a pro.

What’s your favorite part about volunteering?
(The club) has been doing this volunteer work for Wisconsin Public Television for probably about 15 years, now. We like doing it. It’s a lot of fun talking to the people calling in. Sometimes we even know some of them. I had one call today – the guy was from Mosinee. That’s not a very big community, and I asked him if he knew my brother-in-law. I even got a couple of calls from new donors, which is just great.

Why come out to volunteer on a busy weeknight?
It’s supporting a good cause. We’re trying to keep important shows on the air. That’s got some satisfaction for us. We all are part of this community; we’re part of the state of Wisconsin. It’s so important to keep original, Wisconsin-focused content on TV. We want to keep this station alive.

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