Behind the Curtain with Ken Frye: Interview with Aubrey Bean

This month on Behind the Curtain, Ken Frye talks to Aubrey Bean, Assistant Director of Development:

KF: Why do we have pledge drives?

AB: Pledge drives are essential for keeping the mission going. Over half of the budget is supported by individual contributions. That’s a huge and significant percentage that KEXP needs in order to stay on the air! A donor told us a couple months ago, “the way the station is funded is what allows KEXP to program the way it does.” Our unique programming is possible because we depend on individuals, not corporations, who buy into the mission and what we’re doing. That’s the incredible thing about the internal atmosphere around the pledge drive. The DJs are working so hard and just pouring their hearts out on the air and asking people to support what we do. Every single pledge drive is a chance to make that case to our donors about why their contributions matter. One other thing that a lot of people don’t know is that even though KEXP is public radio, we’re not eligible for funding from CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting), because of FCC license rules. For a station our size, that could be as much as $300,000 — which we now have to find other ways to raise.

KF: Thank you! Where are you from? And what got you here?

AB: Tacoma! Well, technically I’m from Puyullup but headed up to Seattle as soon as could and I started working for Taproot Theatre when I was in college. They hired me full time once I left college and then a position opened up in the development office. So, I said to myself, I could write a grant! I did that for 3 years and then I was ready for a change. I saw the position open up at KEXP and it was a step up for me, while still being in the creative environment I needed. I also wanted to be a part of a mission-driven organization.

KF: Do you see a natural connection between radio and theater?

AB: The creative process of radio reminds me of the theater productions I’ve been a part of. I’m also used to working with actors and other artists, and those creative-types are here. So, I see a very natural connection between the theater and the radio environment.

KF: How are goals set here at KEXP?

AB: We look at trends and what percentage each show is able to contribute to the overall goal of the drive, both by number of donations and dollars raised. It’s pretty mathematical, and broken down into the number of calls we need each hour to stay on track. So when we say on-air that every call matters — it’s really true. Our volunteers are in the pledge room clapping and cheering every single time the phone rings.

KF: How did we do?

AB: We finished the spring campaign at 93%!

KF: What is a day like here at KEXP?

AB: For me? I come into the office about 9:00am and start answering phone messages and emails. We try to get back to everybody. I sit in a lot of meetings (smile). My to-do list is always changing, depending on what we have going on. And whether it’s pledge drive time, or in-between. I’m still impressed, daily, by how hard everyone here works though. We had a donor recently tour the station and decide to double his gift after seeing how hard working we all are, and how we really maximize our space and time. He said that his gift was the best decision he’d made in 20 years! I don’t know if that’s true — but it was encouraging to hear.

KF: How much money does it take daily to run KEXP?

AB: Well, our annual budget this year is $4.3 million — so divide that by 365 days. $11,781 per day to run the station?

KF: Where do you see this position going? What does the future hold for you?

AB: There is such a great energy and positivity here. Everybody is really encouraged to be creative and to think outside the box. I’d like to stay for a while.

KF: Do you see yourself shifting into another position here or our you happy with the role your in now.

AB: I like the idea of learning about radio production. But my day job keeps me pretty busy. (smile)

KF: Thank you!

AB: Thanks for having me!

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