The 3-cent solution

I love listening to NPR (National Public Radio) while driving. Actually, I love listening to NPR no matter where I am. I like "All Things Considered", "Fresh Air", "Car Talk" and many other programs. I think it is the finest station on the dial.

On the other hand, the fundraiser programming drives me up the wall. I hate, hate, hate it. I don't know if the local NPR stations (mine is KQED) have hit on an insidious formula to drive people to donate but it grates me to no end. Every time their pledge drive starts, I hope and pray that it would be over quickly. But of course, it takes far too long. I try to skip to some generic music station but then I manage to miss KQED's programming as well. So, I asked myself - Can the NPR stations raise funds without this fundraising mess?

Well, two things happened. First, I heard on NPR that more than 90% of NPR listeners did not give any money. The second was a really unlikely source - an article on the economics of iPhone applications. By building a simple application that sells for say $1 or $5, the developer is able to get a larger audience and thus is able to make far more total revenue than if the application was priced at say $100.

So, here is what I came up with. One of the reasons that an overwhelming majority of NPR listeners do not contribute is because they can't (or won't) fork over $100 or $350 that the stations keep talking about. And that is the wrong price point to advocate. My idea is very simple - simply send $10 as a "Happy Birthday" gift to your local NPR station on your own birthday. Don't wait for those grating fundraising appeals. Don't wait for any letters. Just write out a check for $10 and mail it in. This works out to 3 cents a day! Get everyone you know to do it. Hopefully we can all listen to NPR uninterrupted by these fundraising appeals...


Happy Birthday Harvey Milk

Today Harvey Milk would have turned 80. That is, if he hadn't been assassinated way back in 1978. Last year, California finally managed to create a Harvey Milk Day, the first of which is today.

I first heard of Harvey Milk in late 80s at my alma mater (University of Iowa). Many of my friends thought of him as an inspiration to do good. But I didn't realize just how positive a man he was till many years later when I read more about him and understood just how viciously gay people were persecuted in United States. He managed to convince a very large group of gay people to out themselves to fight the Briggs Initiative, at a time when hardly anyone did so voluntarily.

I wonder what would have happened if Milk had been around when the AIDS epidemic started. Would he have spearheaded a push to legalize gay marriage? Would he have managed to convince the American public that gays are not a threat to society - rather their persecution and discrimination against them is...

But these are just philosophical questions today.

Happy Birthday Mr. Milk!