Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It's just business

As Americans, we live in a capitalist society.  Many a rags-to-riches story has been written here and it's not even worth mentioning that some people who came from nothing and made a fortune still dress in raggy clothing. 

But you know the deal.  In a free market, if you have something to sell, you can sell it* and make money from it.  The classic example is the Pet Rock, from 1975. Someone figured out that Americans would pay a couple of bucks for something they could find in the nearest yard for free. That someone got rich.

Having a license to run a radio station is often the same as a license to print money.  The federal govt. sets up an orderly system to determine who gets to broadcast over the air we all share.  This is why you can't run out and buy a 50,000 watt transmitter and put your collection of Keith Urban songs on the air to delight your neighbors.  The Federal Communications Commission allots a certain number of stations for each town and then it's up to the people who run those stations to put on programming that people will like enough to listen, and then when enough people are listening, advertisers will pay to put their commercials on the air between the records or news stories or calls from Lou in Edgemere about how much more he knows about managing a baseball team than Buck Showalter does.

But a station in Seaford, Delaware has gone the good old Go Fund Me route to repair their transmitter, recently damaged by lightning.  The fix will cost $10,000 and they only have half of that on hand, so they are appealing to the public to fork over the other five large. 

Nothing is wrong with this, per se,  but it makes me wonder how I'd feel about going into a restaurant that was passing the hat among its diners to raise money for a new deep fryer.  Or, let's say you go see a lawyer about writing a will for you.

"You go see a lawyer about writing a will for you."

Fine.  Now let's say the lawyer writes the will, files it for you, and you pay the bill he/she sends.  And now let's say, a week later the lawyer sends you a letter saying that his law firm needs a new copy machine or stapler, and would you mind chipping in a few semolians to allow them to keep the firm in business?  Asking the public to fund your private ventures takes a lot of nerve.  And as of yesterday, the radio station had garnered a whopping total of $25 of the $5000 goal.

It strikes me as odd.  If you have a music station, play the songs people want to hear and sell commercial advertising time and retire to the south of France like everyone else in that business does**.  

*pursuant to state, federal and local laws and regulations
**your actual results may vary

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