The Money Room: The Ask That Wasn’t

This entry is part 4 of 14 in the series The Money Room
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Money Room is a bit of history written by John Kerr, John Carver, and Sam Tyler whose fundraising careers at WGBH spanned three decades.

By Sam Tyler

David Ives knew just about everybody in Boston. At least it seemed that way.

This made my job coordinating the WGBH Independence Fund in the late ‘70s much easier than anticipated. I was representing a stellar organization with a charismatic leader. We had first class materials from Design, probably more impressive than any other institution in Boston. And potential donors were enjoying NOVA, Julia Child, Sesame Street, Pops, Tennis, The Victory Garden, and so much more each week. Basically, we had free ads for our campaign.

But somebody had to take credit for success. So, I led the band as well as I could.

Off we would go all over Boston — sometimes Kerr with David, sometimes me — with our flip charts to make the case and a couple of umbrellas to leave behind so they’d remember us.

David was obsessed with being on time. On the appointed day, we arrived in the beautiful office suite of Bank of Boston chairman Bill Brown at 1:10 PM for our 1:30PM “hit” as we called such meetings.

This was a big one in our minds because the bank often set the pace in such matters. At 1:20 p.m. Bill came by, greeted David, and apologized for having to cancel the presentation with only 10 minutes notice. David indicated that we looked forward to coming back when convenient. Bill said no need, they are pledging $100,000. Then he hurried off. David and I packed up and headed to the garage. We signaled that we would not talk about what had just happened until we were in the car.

Then David said, “Well, Tyler. I’ll be damned. We got out of the meeting 10 minutes before it began with twice as much as we were going ask for.”

We howled. The plan was to ask for $50,000. But we never got the chance. $100,000 was better for sure. I’ve always wondered what element of fate caused the cancellation that doubled our take.

Read more entries in The Money Room series.

Special thanks to Gene Mackles for the series wordmark.


  1. FRED BARZYK on July 9, 2021 at 10:37 am

    All these great stories warms my heart. These are the gems that will make the great history when it is finally written. It has been my contention that WGBH is /was the greatest TV station in the country… not only because of the shows but the kind of people that were working there. Sam you were one of the best. Fred

    • Bob Nesson on August 20, 2021 at 2:25 pm

      I take Fred’s comment to Sam, “…you were one of the best…” and say: back at you Fred. Your friendship, support and mentoring were critically important to those of us who aspired to make meaningful contributions through our work at WGBH and beyond. THANK YOU . Bob

  2. Karen Johnson on July 8, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    Great story, Sam. How well I remember those early days, when John hired you, then Carver–good times. All my best.

    • Karen Johnson on July 9, 2021 at 9:53 pm

      …or was it John Carver, then Sam? Details are faded a bit but my memories of the excitement, rewarding work, fun and especially the amazing people are loud and clear.

  3. Carol Obertubbesing on July 8, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    Thanks to all of you who raised money so WGBH could be the great organization it was (and still is). Sam’s recollection of David Ives provoked my thinking about him and here are a few thoughts.

    In the early 80s when cable and other “new” communications were arriving, WGBH was part of the Communications Consortium. Many of the institutions overlapped with our Board of Trustees; the organization’s office was at MIT. I was the “on the ground” representative from WGBH, but occasionally the heads of all of the organizations would meet.

    I usually drove to the meetings. At the beginning, we went in my ’69 Ford LTD or “the boat” as some friends called it (I later graduated to a T Bird Fila). The first time David came with me, I was nervous and embarrassed about the car (always clean but definitely not trendy), but David didn’t seem to mind and we had great conversations to and from the meetings.

    At the meetings, David would cut through a lot of the chit-chat and get right to the point. I loved the way he said what he was thinking, even when it might be blunt and ruffle some feathers. In my opinion, it was usually spot-on and it moved things into action.

    I’ve worked with many different types of people over the years and rarely have I encountered someone who was as open as he was; I never had to guess what he was thinking. He didn’t play games with people. While we had very different backgrounds, he was very down to earth and easy to talk with. I also remember him with his apron during Pledge.

    He was willing to do all tasks large and small and inspired many of us by his example. We could use more people like David – charming yet truthful, visionary yet action-oriented.

  4. Susan Galler on July 8, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Sam. Love this story. I enjoyed going on calls with David too. But I found he was “off” (almost silent) until we got with the prospect and then he turned it (his charm) “on.”

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