It’s time for Penny Pitch and time to share with you what I know about The Heart of the WOWO Radio Listener.
First let me share with you what Penny Pitch is all about. Penny Pitch began in 1948, as a way for WOWO radio listeners to give to help those in need. It continues today with our two day radiothon Thursday and Friday, which I’ll tell you more about in a moment.
A couple of years ago, our WOWO Program Director at the time, Ryan Wrecker worked on creating a number of special events for WOWO’s 90th anniversary and some of the information is from that event that you can listen to here.
I’m also including some of the audio in the podcast version. Bob Chase tells the story of how WOWO’s Jay Gould got a letter from a mom of a handicapped son. There was a special typewriter that was very expensive at the time, about $1900 and that typewriter would be a real blessing to this young man. Jay read the letter on the air and told listeners that if they had a couple of pennies they could contribute to mail them in to WOWO. Pretty soon, they raised over $7000 and most of it was in pennies.
Over the years WOWO’s Penny Pitch Charity has raised a tremendous amount of money for wonderful families and fantastic local charities.
Penny Pitch is still going strong and has a separate board of volunteers that select each years local charity based on the applications we receive.
When I joined WOWO in December 2013, my first week was the week of WOWO’s gas station promotion for Penny Pitch. Pat Miller broadcasts his afternoon talk show from the Phil’s One Stop Marathon gas station in Georgetown Square and listeners drop off their pennies and folding money into the orange buckets. In 2013 Turnstone was the charity that would be getting all of the Penny Pitch donations and my eyes were opened to what made WOWO listeners different from the listeners of other stations I had worked for previously.
That difference was the heart of the listeners.
That December day in 2013 was miserable weather-wise. It was not only snowy but cold and windy. But in the last hour, I met a young man who made an extra special effort to join us that afternoon.
He and his wife were from Indianapolis and moved to Fort Wayne earlier that year when they discovered their young daughter needed special care. Friends told them about the services of Turnstone and they were blessed to get the help they needed. This young man, in his early 30’s was also a WOWO radio listener and when it was announced that Turnstone was going to be receiving the Penny Pitch donations in 2013, he started collecting funds on his own at his office.
When I met him that afternoon 4 years ago, he came with a huge jar stuffed with money that his friends, co-workers and acquaintances had donated. He drove across town in that lousy weather to personally thank Nancy, the executive director of Turnstone at the time and WOWO for selecting Turnstone for Penny Pitch. By the time he finished telling me and Nancy his story and handed over the jar filled with donations of love and money, everyone of us had tears streaming down our faces.
Here’s what stuck with me that day about the heart of the WOWO Radio Listener compared to what I saw at many of the radio stations I worked for previously. At the other stations, listeners tuned in to see what they could get by winning. WOWO listeners tuned in to see what they could give to help others.
I’m going to wrap this up with an opportunity to join us for this years Penny Pitch Radiothon.
December 14th and December 15th… Thursday and Friday, Fort Wayne’s Morning News with Charly Butcher and the Pat Miller Program in the afternoon will be devoted to raising funds for Shepherd’s House in Fort Wayne. Listen all day and tell your friends and family. We know the WOWO Radio Listener Family will give generously like you have for decades. Thank you for your support and involvement.