Telethon Almost Here

By: Tim Timmons

What started as a wild idea is almost here.

The little paper that could may be the only paper in the country to try a telethon. I’m not sure what that says about us, but hey, let’s go with something good.

Actually, let me start by clearing up a few misconceptions. This is not, let me repeat, NOT a charity fundraiser. The Paper is a for-profit business, just like the radio station and the grocery store and the auto mechanic . . . well, you get the idea. If we don’t make enough money to pay our bills, and our employees and our vendors, well, believe me when I tell you, you wouldn’t be reading these scribbles today.

No, this isn’t a charity. But we thought this telethon idea might have positive impacts for:

A. The community

B. The sponsors

C. The participants

D. And oh yeah, us

Here’s the how’s, why’s and wherefores.

First, we are selling sponsorships. We believe that advertising, like anything, is best when it stays fresh and new and creative. Anything that does that tends to get noticed, and well, advertising – in order for it to work – needs to be noticed. Besides, our cousins in the radio biz have been selling sponsorships of various programs – high school football and basketball games come to mind – since back when Paul Harvey’s went through puberty.

And if you run a business and would like to get in on the act . . . just let me know. The more the merrier.

Those sponsorships take care of B and D from above list.

And before I go any further, let me say a word or six about one of the sponsors – Cornerstone Masonic Event Center. We are so excited to be there, and those good folks could not be nicer to work with. Our community is truly lucky to have such a great facility right in the middle of beautiful downtown Crawfordsville.

As for item A, the community, well heck, you know. That’s what we do. The Paper is well on track to donate more than $120,000 in our community stewardship program. We give away ads to churches and various non-profits all the time. Do we do that so said advertisers will spend money with us? Of course not. It’s simply the right thing to do. And sadly, that used to be a fairly common practice among community newspapers . . . and just isn’t anymore. Trust me, I am back on the Hoosier State Press Association board (for the third or fourth time) and the unhappy truth is that there aren’t that many locally owned newspapers left. Out-of-state companies own most of the dailies in Indiana. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with other states. But companies a few hundred miles away don’t tend to embrace this community very much. What’s the old saying? Charity begins at home.

This telethon will help the community in several ways. First, it is a different way of sharing news. Who knows if it will become more than a one-time event, but for 12 hours next Tuesday, you can get a live update by just tuning in. Second, we are going to offer existing and brand-new customers one heck of a deal on subscriptions for our Online Edition. (And yes, I know . . . a lot of you who were getting ready to write checks for your annual subscription just decided to put that on hold to see what said offer is. That’s OK, I’d do the same.)

And lastly, the participants. Truth to tell, we did not get as many acts as we had hoped for. Heck, I was really rooting for a juggler, a magician, bagpipes and at least one comedian. Sorry to say, none of those have signed up yet . . . but there is still time. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

But of the participants who have signed up – maybe this will be the break they need to get noticed? Of course, the biggest act is Steve Trent – and he certainly doesn’t need our help to be noticed. Steve is one of the most talented guys I know and the only question about his music is why hasn’t there been a No. 1 country single yet?

Still, maybe the right person at the right time will be watching – and someone will become a star . . . and they can say it all began right here.

What will Tuesday bring? No idea, but I’m excited to find out!

-Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Wednesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at [email protected].