It's Pledge Week at our favorite Public Broadcasting Station. Well, we no longer call it "Pledge Week." It's now called "Festival" as if that changes the intent of the entire week which is to get viewers to donate money.
We donate to PBS, not because of the special Festival programming, but because The Newshour with Jim Lehrer is the only fair and balanced news that we can find. On all controversial topics, they present opposing views and both sides are presented in an articulate and reasonable manner. There is no shouting, rarely any interruptions. There are no cutesy young females with skirts as short as their knowledge of the subject at hand. There is no silly chit-chat. There is no better explanation of Supreme Court activity than that provided by Marcia Coyle (sorry Nina). And you'll have to get your celebrity news about Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohen elsewhere.
So Festival comes around and the programming is clearly geared to entice viewers. Last night I watched a retrospective of folk music. The Limelighers, The Brothers Four, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, The Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary, and oh so many others. I make my contribution during these shows because they will send me a bunch of CDs and a DVD of the program (absent the interruptions). Last year I got a comprehensive DVD/CD collection of one of my very favorite people...Pete Seeger.
So what's my complaint? They lie. A bold-faced lie every Festival. They would have you believe (because they tell you it is true) that your contribution will enable the station to bring you more shows like these. But do you ever see those shows except during Festival? Do you ever see one performance of Andre Rieu? The Celtic Women? The Three Tenors (choose your country)? Pete Seeger?
So I give my money, knowing that I won't ever see the program that interested me except during Festival. On the other hand, I will have a DVD and CDs to enjoy. Most of all, I will help keep PBS alive so they can continue to bring me The Newshour and the many other shows I truly enjoy. Where else can I get my fix of British comedy? Great mystery series? Nature? Frontline? And so much more.
In truth, I would not like to see PBS do the shows they promote during Festival Week on a regular basis. Twice a year is fine, thank you very much. But will you please quit saying my money will allow you continue to broadcast such shows? We both know it's not true.