Well, my contention is that radio done right will never be replaced by a technology, unless someone figures out a way to make the services truly live and truly local. While many of our peers on radio stations from coast to coast have gone jock-less, or have voice-tracked shifts that were once filled with vibrant and talented local DJs, we at KRTY remain mostly live and local. KRTY and other real live local stations here in the Bay Area do hundreds of events every year, where our listeners can touch and get to know our DJs. This human connection is, quite simply, what separates us from any other form of music delivery system.
The one thing that radio does best is touch the community. That is my focus this week. Eight years ago, our sales manager Tina Ferguson decided to walk in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer to honor her sister Michelle. Michelle, who was barely 40 at the time, would later that year pass away from the terrible disease. That first year was a real eye-opener for Tina, as hundreds of folks who were going though the same emotions and turbulence as she was got together that one weekend to raise money to fund research right here in the Bay Area.
The next year, Tina gathered a group of her friends and walked as a team of seven. Following that walk, she made a presentation to management here at KRTY, suggesting that we should adopt the team and make it part of our station fabric. Well, with her enthusiasm and diligence, we started the KRTY team. There were about 15 hardy souls that first year, and our fundraising was a modest $35,000.
Then, three years ago, it really took off. KRTY made the event a major focus of our activities. Our DJs Eric Steele and Indiana Al joined in the team and added to the on-air announcements. They put together a framework of training and fundraising help for our team members that is beyond compare. Last year, we had 52 team members and raised $130,000. This year, the number was 86 team members. The money is still coming in, but we have raised over $183,000 so far.
During the first weekend of July (July 7-8), if you were anywhere near San Francisco, you no doubt saw a sea of pink cowboy hats. These hooting and hollering folks were having a blast, walking the 39.5 miles that make up the Avon Walk. But more importantly, they are our listeners and friends; they are radio listeners who put their efforts together to achieve great things for cancer research.
Like so many things, this started with one person whose passion made it all possible. But the point of all of this is: it would not be possible without being live and local. Our listeners believe we are here to help the local community, and because of this, they come out in droves to support those efforts. Radio is not dead, nor is it a dinosaur. It is the original social media, and when we come together to benefit others, we are at our best.