Contributor: Scott Herman, Chairman, Broadcasters Foundation of America
Local radio and TV broadcasters are a central part of their communities, helping both local and national advertisers reach listeners and viewers where they live and shop. With insights into the tastes and interests of their local listeners and viewers, radio and TV stations deliver the entertainment and news stories that resonate with the people in their market. Whether it’s scores from the local high school football game, or updates on the virus that our nation is fighting, broadcasters are always there. Broadcast radio and TV are also known for raising awareness and money for charitable causes, both local and national.
But what happens when something tragic occurs to someone in broadcasting? What happens when an unimaginable disease, accident or disaster strikes and it upends their life? For more than seventy years, the Broadcasters Foundation of America has provided financial assistance to anonymous broadcast professionals and their families whose lives have been shattered by unthinkable tragedies.
A 501(c)3 public charity, the Foundation is unique in that it exists solely to help broadcasters in acute need. Every grant recipient has worked in broadcasting, whether in management, sales, on-air, programming, engineering, production and more. These individuals and families are struggling or destitute because of disease, accident or advanced age. They don’t know where to turn or may be too embarrassed to ask for help.
The Broadcasters Foundation distributes two types of grants: monthly aid, which is is awarded to broadcasters who are unable to work due to an illness, accident, advanced age or other serious misfortune; and one-time emergency funds, which are provided to broadcasters who have experienced a personal loss from a disaster, such as a hurricane, flood or fire and are in desperate need of help recovering from the devastation.
A note from one of our monthly grant recipients can provide a glimpse into what the Broadcasters Foundation can mean to a broadcaster in desperate need: There are no words powerful enough to express my thanks for your compassion and generosity in awarding me a monthly grant. It will keep the roof over my head, food on my plate and the medicines I need to manage my health issues.
Over the past 20 years, the Broadcasters Foundation has distributed over $13 million to broadcasters in need.
In recent years, the requests for assistance have escalated at a significant rate. Last year, the Broadcasters Foundation awarded more than $1.7 million in monthly and one-time emergency grants. Monthly grants have increased over 60% since 2017, and more than 500 emergency grants have been awarded since then.
The pandemic has affected our normal ability to raise funds, as we have not been able to hold live fundraising events, such as our Celebrity Golf Tournament, Philip J. Lombardo Charity Golf Tournament and Annual Leadership Awards Breakfast.
No broadcaster who has qualified for aid has ever been turned away. With your help, we can continue our charitable mission to help those in our industry who need it most.