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Broadcasters hunker down for long-haul fund-raising

Across the country, radio and TV stations are at the forefront of effort to raise cash and materials for Hurricane Katrina relief. In New York, WNBC-TV's locally produced "Hurricane Relief" fund drive raised nearly 2.3 million from viewers and another six million from corporate contributors - - a total of nearly 8.3 million. Celebrities such as Aida Turturro, Wynton Marsalis and Bebe Neuwirth pitched in to answer phones to help with the fundraising. What's become clear is that a week or so of fund-raising won't meet the needs from the biggest natural disaster in US history. The big six TV networks are still firming up plans for an unprecedented joint telethon and we can expect to see broadcasters working with relief agencies for months to come. In addition to efforts already reported on Friday, here's what we're hearing from stations across America.

Who is doing what to help

News Corporation pledged $1 million to the Salvation Army to support its relief efforts. The company will also match employee contributions, up to another $1 million, to accredited charities. Separately, Fox Networks Group has committed more than $5 million in commercial inventory to PSAs for the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and USA Freedom Corps relief efforts.

Every radio and TV station in the Myrtle Beach, SC market is getting together for an unprecedented massive remote broadcast on Thursday, September 8th, to raise money for the Red Cross. The 16 radio and three TV stations will set up in a retail parking lot near the beach and urge people to come by with donations from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, with a goal of raising at least $100,000.

WOR-AM New York activated its community outreach program, "Operation Good Neighbor," and devoted all day Thursday (9/1) to discussing the impact of Hurricane Katrina and telling listeners how to help the victims through various relief organizations.

Great American Country (GAC), The Grand Ole Opry and sponsor Cracker Barrel Old Country Store announced plans for "Country Reaches Out: An Opry Benefit for the American Red Cross." The live concert to raise funds for Red Cross relief efforts will air September 27th on Scripps Networks' GAC, with simulcasts on DIY, Fine Living, WASM-AM Nashville, Sirius Satellite Radio and Artists already scheduled to appear include Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Craig Morgan and Billy Currington.

Both XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio simulcast Friday's "A Concert for Hurricane Relief" from NBC Universal, which aired on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC.

At KCDZ-FM Joshua Tree, CA, a 12-hour fundraising drive drew donations of $135,000 from Morongo Basin residents, who lined up in the station parking lot with cash and checks for hurricane relief.

The Young Broadcasting TV station group, through local telethons and other relief drives conducted by the individual stations, has collected over $500,000 for the victims of Katrina and will be donating these funds to the American Red Cross.

Barrington Broadcasting's WHOI-TV Peoria, IL raised more than $350,000 for the Red Cross through a two-day telethon and also began collecting donations (clothing, toys, etc.) for a family with local ties which was driving up to flee the flood-ravaged area.

Barrington's WEYI-TV Saginaw, MI adopted an on-going mini-telethon approach, telling viewers how to contribute, and teaming with the local Cumulus radio stations to raise donations for the Red Cross, including TV live shots from the radio stations.

Clear Channel's KTBZ-FM Houston has raised over $465,000 for Red Cross relief efforts, much of it from listeners paying for Rod Ryan to play their selections of the worst songs ever. Pricing has been $30 for a song that fits the Buzz's Modern rock format, but is nonetheless a rotten song, $60 bucks if it's out of format and $100 for something really off the wall.

Syndicated radio personality Earl Pitts, Uhmerikun, produced by Gary Burbank and Burbank Creations, is donating proceeds from the sale of "Redneck Essentials" via his website and phone orders.

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