For 30 minutes Wednesday morning, the Publisher of Streamline Publishing-owned RBR+TVBR and Radio Ink led a conversation with the two key leaders of the media industry’s non-profit organization devoted to helping those in need.
And, with more in need than ever at a time when donations have been crippled by COVID-19, assisting the Broadcasters Foundation of America is more necessary than ever before.
Sharing how the Broadcasters Foundation has supported those who have suffered severe financial difficulties with Deborah Parenti were foundation President Jim Thompson and Chair Scott Herman, known for his many years at CBS Radio.
Thompson has been with the organization for nearly a decade, following a successful career in broadcasting. He’s still there because he supported it before he became a part of it, and the recession seen in the late 2000s brought Thompson into the fold.
Since his arrival, the Broadcasters Foundation has established itself for financial assistance in two key ways. There is a monthly grant, available to a needy broadcast media professional who cannot work due to sickness or other ailments — up to $2,500 per month.
Then, there are emergency grants. Five alone arrived at the Broadcasters Foundation on Wednesday morning, and 25 requests have come from Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Laura, which caused widespread damage in Lake Charles. “These are people displaced from their homes,” Thompson said.
A check of up to $2,000 is being sent to all applicants, and they are expected to receive them in the next few days, he added.
How many people in 2020 alone has the Broadcasters Foundation helped? Thompson says that more than 100 people each month receive continual aid, until they no longer require it.
That’s what makes the foundation’s current financial health ever-fragile. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two major charity golf tournaments, including one tied to the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas, were cancelled.
As such, some $450,000 in donations tied to those events were erased, requiring the Foundation to get the funds in other ways. “There are more people getting aid than ever, but the pandemic has crippled fundraising,” Thompson said.
Is there a recipient story that has grabbed at his heartstrings?
Thompson responded to Parenti’s inquiry with a “you think it could never happen to you” tale of a high-level industry executive who retired and lived large. Then, he got sick and spent all of his money trying to stay alive. He lost his house in the recession of the late 2000s, and then lost his money. All of a sudden, Thompson said, he was living in a one-bedroom apartment supported by the Broadcasters Foundation.
And, in the event the person passes on, the foundation will continue to help spouse in need, as needed.
Thompson also shared a tale of a person with four kids who had left a large company and went out on his own. “He is going to die within the next three months, and with brain cancer,” he said. “We started helping him out three months ago.”
He also noted how the foundation continues to help the widow and two children of the late Todd Fries, son of former RAB leader Gary Fries. The younger Fries lost his life to brain cancer.
With the top costs targeting insurance and medical care, what is perhaps the most gratifying thing the Broadcasters Foundation can say about the work it does?
Herman said it was the recipient who said, “I don’t need the help anymore.”
He said, “Then, you know you were there to help them through the crisis and now they are OK.”
Watch the 30-minute interview on demand below!