Friday, October 24, 2008

Two Things That Shocked Me Yesterday

I am not easily shocked. I am, after all, the guy who just posted an interview with Tony Curtis in which the 83-year-old talks about walking around Central Park with spunk dripping down his leg. So, really.

But yesterday, two things stunned me.

First, I was en route to the Bellagio for lunch with sources and I'd forgotten my iPod, so I was stuck listening to KNPR's fall membership pledge drive. On comes Ira Glass, the host of "This American Life." Glass calls up some guy who Glass has been told is a non-contributing listener. Ira gets the poor fellow on the line and proceeds to humiliate him, getting to him to admit how cheap he is and how he loves getting away with free stuff. The ne'er-do-well listener, clearly a Glass fan who is both thrilled to be speaking to him and crushed this is how that came to happen, repeatedly stutters his apologies and vows to send in some money.

Uh, holy crap. It was shocking. Impossible not to listen to and entertaining in a Jerry Springer way, but shocking. And people don't listen to NPR for that kind of entertainment, do they? It seemed like this was a national fundraising segment Glass had produced and not an attack on a specific Vegas-area listener, but he did conclude by warning that people should give since, "Aren't you a little bit like that guy?" And I'm sitting there telling the radio, "Uh, no. I give every frigging month."

I do wonder, though, how a non-giver would actually react to such an admonition. These pledge appeals don't ordinarily wander into blatant "You're a BAD person if you don't give" territory. They just encourage giving by positive reinforcement and, yes, some carefully worded guilt. This went beyond that motif into shaming people.

Speaking of guilt... the second thing. Miles and I were watching Fox News last night and this ad comes on. Watch it. Now.

Wow. Yes, this is a site for heterosexual adulterers being advertised prominently on a news channel that shills for the "family values" agenda! Evidently, ESPN actually banned the same company from advertising recently. Here's a Reuters report about that:

I love the part in that report where the AshleyMadison.Com dude claims this sort of activity is no different than ESPN accepting "What Happens Here Stays Here" ads for Las Vegas. Somehow I think this is a wee bit different.

Fox News, however, evidently does not. When ESPN ran these ads, they did so after 11 p.m. Fox News, however, had them airing even earlier.


Anonymous said...

ESPN sure runs their ads on the radio. I listen to the ESPN radio stellite feed every morning on the way to work, and the Ashley Madison ads blast during Mike and Mike almost daily.

Jeff in OKC

Judy and Dagmar Jenner said...

Interesting comment about NPR's membership drive tactic. I listen many hours a day, and I have been an enthusiastic member and supporter for many years (even when I was in college), but I didn't hear that particular segment. I am a huge fan of Ira Glass's show, and I don't think his shaming tactic is particular useful... However, I was glad to hear that KNPR met its membership goal ahead of time, so perhaps some non-paying listeners were shamed into joining. Still, no gold star for Ira Glass here.

Gary H - NLV said...

I'll share what I wrote to you in an email.--

I think being able to do what Ira did is many development director's fantasy. You'd like to be able to say to someone "You don't want to pay taxes to receive this service, but you're using it and you need to make a voluntary contribution." I could never do it, though.

Actually, I once came close to doing it. I served on the Board of Bet Mishpachah, the Gay and Lesbian Synogogue in Washington, DC, as hospitality chair.

Different members used to take responsibilty for the Oneg Shabbat (reception after the Friday night service.) I asked a member who attended every Friday night to be the one to bring the refreshments for the Oneg. He said no. It took self-control but I didn't say what I wanted to. I wanted to tell him that he ate everyone elses food and that it was his turn to contribute. I also resigned from the Board shortly after that incident. I realized that my wanting to tell him off was a sign that I was burning out as a volunteer. Better to resign than to do something to embarass the organization or myself.