SDPTV sets $178,437 fund-raising record

SDPTV sets $178,437 fund-raising record South Dakota Public Television raised a record $178,437 during the 16-day Festival '99 pledge drive that ended Sunday, March 14. SDPTV supporters set two more milestones: a record 2,691 people called to offer their support during the drive, and a record 1,956 of them are new members of Friends of South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

The drive included a series of highlights: a live comedy night featuring Williams & Ree and Gary Mule Deer; a Red Green Live '99 special; an Antique Roadshow event featuring Sioux Falls museum personnel; and a Story of Golf event with tips from an area golf pro.

"We are surprised and delighted by the record support from South Dakotans during this festival," said Julie Andersen, executive director of South Dakota Public Broadcasting. "This proves that more and more television viewers are recognizing the importance and quality of Public Television programming."

The premiere event of the drive was Williams & Ree: No Contest. The comedy night included a popular contest pitting South Dakota towns in a race to earn a featured spot in the next Williams & Ree movie, to be taped this spring. Towns competed in three categories: raising the most money per capita; making the most pledges per capita; and writing the best essay on why the town should be in the movie.

Some 144 South Dakota towns participated in the contest, raising more than $35,000 for the network. Stratford (pop. 85 at the last census) came in first in both most money per capita ($24.12 per person) and pledges per capita (68 percent), with Plankinton (pop. 604) second in both categories with a $7.80 per person average and 62 percent of the population pledging. Both towns will be in the new movie. Brentford earned a cameo by presenting the best essay.

The Stratford Community Theater (tongue-in-cheek motto: "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.") spearheaded that town's prize-winning efforts.

Plankinton jumped to an early lead after the entire student population donated money to support SDPB and the teachers matched dollar-for-dollar the money donated by students.

Brentford, one of a dozen communities that participated in the essay contest, modeled its entry after the "Top Ten" list popularized by David Letterman (examples: Number 9: Mark McGwire has never hit a homer out of Brentford's ballpark! Number 8: We were never saluted on Hee Haw!).

During the Red Green pledge event, South Dakota was one of the first states to meet the state goal set by the Red Green producers and PBS. By the end of the evening (March 6) South Dakotans had more than tripled the state goal ($10.000), raising $31,220 to make the state one of the leaders in Red Green support. SDPTV was allowed to add in pledges made during the Red Green Christmas show and those made before the pledge drive, helping the network exceed the goal.

Two Jon Crane prints, donated by the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation, were auctioned for a total of $635 during the drive.

The money raised by Friends of South Dakota Public Broadcasting during the pledge event will be used to buy programs for the network.

For information about South Dakota Public Broadcasting, call 1-800-456-0766 or visit the SDPB website: www.sdpb.org.

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