One of the coolest stories I got from "Call Me Ted," Ted Turner's autobiography, was about his "Beg-a-thon."
He had launched some local television channels in the South with different kinds of programming than were common for the day. He focused primarily on classic movies when most channels were going for more prime time programming. Thus, his channels got quite popular with demographics of people who didn't want the perceived sex and sleaze in normal TV (tame by today's standards, but that's the way it goes...)
What he did was have a "Beg-A-Thon" on TV, where they live requests between shows to fund the studio and keep it going. They got on local figures - the mayor, policemen, civil servants, various workers, moms, and kids - to talk about how they liked the channel to make a pledge.
Since TV was new at the time and this channel was one of people's favorites, they actually raised the $25,000 he needed to survive!
Ted kept detailed records of everyone who donated, and once the channel was profitable three years later, he paid everyone back $4 for every $3 they donated.
I love this story - when you've tried everything normal, why not try something crazy before dying? And Ted created a win/win situation for the community - they got to keep receiving their favorite programming, the channel stayed in business, and he was eventually able to pay everyone back.
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