Most donors who rescued Peoria station were not members
WTVP, the pubTV station in Peoria, Ill., didn’t know how many friends it had. Seventy to 75 percent of Save Our Station contributors, who indeed rescued the station from being forced into receivership last month, could not be identified as present or former members, says Chet Tomczyk, g.m.
Some 6,400 donors contributed $3.25 million, and the station obtained a new $2 million mortgage, allowing it to pay two banks a remaining debt of $5.25 million. In negotiations, the creditors, led by Bank of America, had already agreed to forgive debts and fees totaling about $2 million.
Most of the donations ranged between $50 and $100 each, but big gifts also were vital. The Caterpillar Foundation added $300,000 by matching the pledges of its employees and retirees, and three donors gave $200,000 each, Tomczyk says.
WTVP had done without normal fundraising since November, including December pledging and three months of member renewals, to avoid seeking operating funds in case it had to stop operating, the manager says.
That was a possibility not long ago. In October, Bank of America demanded full payment on a balance of about $7 million remaining on a $10.5 million bond issue for WTVP’s digital conversion and new building (Current, Jan. 22).
The last $11,000 came in Feb. 27, allowing WTVP to make the final payment a day before the deadline. When Tomczyk and board Chair P. Joseph O’Neill returned to the station, the staff applauded O’Neill and the donors. Doughnuts were served in celebration.
Tomczyk says he noticed laughter in the station, which he had not heard for a long time.
Web page posted March 3, 2008
Copyright 2008 by Current LLC