the fall fund drive

It is the Fall Fund Drive season for public radio and TV in the U.S.A.

If I have income when this time of year comes around, I do my best to contribute. I listen to NPR every day, at home and in my car. But now the question arises, due to my geographic location, to which station do I donate this year?

At home, I listen to WFSU in Tallahassee using my computer. WFSU carries most of the programs that I have come to love and depend upon, and their stream has a relatively low bit rate so it always plays smoothly in my audio player, Amarok. In fact, I'm listening to World Update from the BBC World Service on WFSU right now (just after 5 A.M. EDT).

No NPR stations come in clearly on "normal" analog household radios where we live. We're situated between three mountainous ridges, with Shining Rock and Cold Mountain to the west, Mount Pisgah to the northeast and the Blue Ridge itself running east-to-west a couple of miles south of us as the crow flies (it's about 4 miles via the twisty, climbing road). The car radio does much better than our house radios.

In the car I usually listen to WETS in Johnson City, TN - unless I'm south of the Blue Ridge, where I listen to WFAE in Charlotte, NC. Both of those stations play the standard NPR daily lineup; Morning Edition, Diane Rehm, Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered and Marketplace. All important and informative shows that keep me interested and informed.

Early in the morning, on the way home from work, I'll listen to WNCW or WCQS. They play music during the day and evening (bluegrass and classical, respectively), but they do have Morning Edition until 9 A.M., so I'll listen to them if they come in the clearest. WCQS plays All Things Considered and Marketplace starting at 4 P.M., so that is an option in the late afternoon.

As I travel through the mountains, I sometimes have to change the radio station a lot because of reception problems.

And so I have a lot of different stations to choose from. The six radio buttons on my car stereo's "FM1" list are set to five different NPR stations. Number 6 is a duplicate of 4; I did that by mistake but never saw fit to change it. There isn't a sixth station that I care to hear. If I want to listen to music, I have a thumb drive that plugs into the car's USB port. That thumb drive contains my entire personal music collection.

I think I'll probably give my money to WETS in Johnson City this year. I listen to that station more often than any other when I'm in my car. I could make a good case for donating to WFSU in Tallahassee, too, since I listen to that station all day at home. Or WFAE, for that matter; it is in North Carolina, as am I.

But there is plenty of money in Tallahassee already and I am usually on the north side of the Blue Ridge. I'll give to Johnson City, even though it is in Tennessee.

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