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 John Kerr
The story of how one particular person got so smitten by ‘GBH that he became its main beggar.
Corporate Fund-Raising Begins
I hired Lewis Brown Griggs, then recently from Amherst, as our first corporate and foundation grant-seeker. Lew went around town knocking on doors. After several successful years at ‘GBH around Boston, Lew became a television presenter on diversity issues and relationship dynamics.
Major Donors and Donor Service
Our membership was growing. I hired Nancy England, formerly admissions director at Miss Hall’s School and a member of the successful family that owned England’s Department Stores, as our first major donor researcher and leader.
We also hired Jo Madden, Sandra Scott, Cindy Madden, Sally Foskett, and others to build and run our first-class donor service group. Lo Hartnett and Amy Meyers became staffers.
Ives Sings for His Supper
Never apologetic about asking for money or promoting the notion that WGBH depended entirely on grants and contributions, David Ives and I met with Russ Morash to explore ways to harness David’s special humor and style to on-air fund-raising.
Having the president of WGBH sing for his supper seemed an idea worth trying.
Morash directed an extraordinary fund-raising spot featuring Ives standing in the Cahners Conference Room backed by Tony Saletan on guitar. His employees were seated before him, feigning rapt attention as their boss, clad in his familiar bow-tie, tried out his new on-air fund-raising song. Saletan strummed his guitar while David sang:
“This is the station to watch, folks,
“This is your own Channel 2…
“So send us your kind contributions;
“Help keep your station in view!
“Help keep your station in view, folks,
“Help keep the wolf from our door.
“Send us your kind contributions,
“To Boston Oh—Two—One—Three-Four.
Viewers were wowed that the president of WGBH would sing for his supper. They wrote letters and enclosed their checks.
There were several more versions of that song produced. In one, wearing an Eaton wool suit with a pitiful look in his eye, Ives piteously sang to Jean Marsh who played “Rose” in Upstairs Downstairs on MASTERPIECE THEATRE. He went to one knee and asked her to persuade the Bellamy family to contribute. It made asking for money fun.
Ives Rides an Elephant
Morash even produced a spot in which Ives, dressed in a safari shirt and pith helmet, rode an elephant while saying that he “would go anywhere and do anything to raise the money we need at WGBH”.
Read more entries in The Money Room series.
Special thanks to Gene Mackles for the series wordmark.