Jul 13, 2012

Colorado broadcasters team up for wildfire relief fundraiser

Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC, Univision, CPT12 and Rocky Mountain PBS all broadcast from RMPBS's studios. (Photo by Tom Torgove, RMPBS.)

Colorado's major broadcasters, both public and commercial, participated in a massive fundraiser to support the Colorado Chapters of the American Red Cross and the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters Foundation from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday (July 11). The fundraiser netted more than $220,000, with all proceeds going to the organizations.

Rocky Mountain PBS and Colorado Public Television partnered with public media organizations Aspen Public Radio, KUVO, KUNC and KRCC as well as eight commercial stations (9NEWS, 7NEWS, Azteca Colorado, CBS4, KDVR, KWGN, Noticias Univision and KDEN Telemundo Denver) to host a live phone bank to benefit the two organizations. Rocky Mountain PBS hosted the event in its Denver studios, providing 42 phones and 300 phone lines that Red Cross volunteers answered all evening. All of the participating stations featured breaks in regularly scheduled programming to promote the phone bank throughout the evening.

“This was truly a unique collaboration of Colorado broadcasters," said Doug Price, president and c.e.o. of Rocky Mountain PBS. "Many of these stations are commonly seen as competitors in this market, but we unified as a team — swiftly and enthusiastically — to provide impressive collective impact for our statewide audience in a time of need. I am overwhelmed with pride for Colorado’s media and its audiences.”

According to Elizabeth Mayer, director of communications at RMPBS, the Red Cross chapters received $156,397, and those donations will immediately help fund the organization’s response to recent wildfires as well as flooding and other disasters that occur in Colorado. The Fire Fighters Foundation received $63,603, and will allocate that to assist professional and volunteer firefighters adversely affected by the recent wildfires, such as those whose own homes were damaged or destroyed. Any remaining funds will be dedicated to fulfilling the foundation’s mission of helping firefighters and their families who are victims of tragedy.

The morning of the fundraiser, the relief effort received a surprise commitment from an anonymous Colorado organization promising to match donations up to $40,000. Beginning at 4 p.m., individual viewers called in at a consistent pace, keeping the phone lines ringing all evening and contributing about 75 percent of the total funds raised. Major donations came from the Colorado Broadcasters Association ($5,000) and KMGH presented $10,000 from the Scripps Howard Foundation.

“The phone bank was a powerful example of what public broadcasting can, and should, do in a community," said Wick Rowland, president and c.e.o. of Colorado Public Television. "Coming together to provide relief to our neighbors is what true community engagement is about."

To contribute to relief efforts, visit the Help Colorado Now website.

Phone bank volunteers hard at work. (Photo: Tom Torgove, RMPBS.)

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