Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Guns for Books!!

This morning I woke up to my radio alarm as usual. Just before I turned off the alarm, I heard one of the DJ's announcing the station's participation in some program to promote reading in the schools. It totally brought back memories of my own participation in a high school book drive. At the time, I was the VP (probably the last time I will ever have that impressive of a title) of our school's National Honor Society and was on the city-wide NHS committee for organizing a book drive to collect one book for each K-8 student in the Minneapolis Public Schools system.

We were given a list of contacts to beg for donations. After I got pledges from my assigned contacts, which amounted to only 10 to 15 books, I came up with the fiendishly clever idea of calling KDWB, the most popular radio station in town.

Me: Hi, I'm working on a city-wide book drive to collect one book for each child in grades K through 8 and I was wondering if your station could help us publicize our efforts by hosting some kind of fun event at a mall or something [images of KDWB DJ's giving out station T-shirts, caps, etc. in exchange for book donations flashed across my mind].

Lady on the other end: Yes, we can do that. What is your budget?

Me: Huh? Budget? I don't think we have any budget for this. I thought you did this kind of service for free [recollection of hearing KDWB DJ screaming "come to Luther Ford this Saturday to meet Tony Fly and the morning crew and enter to win a free car!!"]

Lady: Umm, no, we usually get paid to do these kind of events. If you don't have any money, we can still put in a public service announcement for you.

Me: Oh, ok... [more stuttering], thank you then.

My naivete and subsequent rude awakening to the realities of corporate promotions count as one among many of the experiences that have shaped my cynical worldview.