28-hour telethon pulls in $17,000 for GrassRoots TV | AspenTimes.com
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28-hour telethon pulls in $17,000 for GrassRoots TV

A three-hour surge in giving at the tail end of GrassRoots Television’s 28-hour telethon pushed the total raised to just under $17,000.But even if all the people who promised to give money come through, the station fell far short of its goal to raise $28,000.That doesn’t mean station manager Sean Sunkel is calling the event a failure, however. In fact, he can even envision another telethon a year or so from now.”I think we’d use some of the equipment a little differently, and it might be an hour longer, but otherwise there isn’t much I’d change,” he said.This year’s 28-hour marathon, in honor of the station’s 28th anniversary, began at 5 p.m. Wednesday and ran until 9 p.m. Thursday. “Maybe we’ll do 29 hours next year,” he said.If he could, Sunkel might change the patterns of giving. “The only thing that disappointed me was the fact that we had to call people to ask for money,” he said.At one point board members from the station sat down with a phone book and looked up people who might be willing to donate – but the effort paid off to the tune of several thousand dollars.Sunkel also said he was surprised that some of the better-funded arts organizations, especially the ones that use Channel 12 to plug their programs, didn’t contribute any time or money to the effort.”That’s one of the problems we’ve had – organizations that benefit from the station have never been contributors. If they had been, or were now, maybe we wouldn’t have had to institute underwriting guidelines,” Sunkel said.But there were some very notable exceptions. Tammie Dauson, a GrassRoots board member who is also executive director of Theater in the Park, spent a considerable amount of time in the studio. The Aspen Historical Society’s staffers showed up to work the phones and visit the set, and provided the station with tapes of programs shot in the 1970s.John C. Noonan, the voice of KAJX radio news, spent an hour or so hosting the telethon, although his appearance was totally unexpected.It was a little after 9 a.m. on Thursday when the crew at GrassRoots found themselves without an on-air host. “Our host didn’t show up, and we saw John walking out to the street so we ran out and grabbed him,” Sunkel said.Tom Egan of KSPN radio also made an on-camera appearance, and donated about 10 CDs, which were given to donors who called at the right time.Several people called in $1,000 donations. Lenny Weinglass, owner of Boogie’s Restaurant, gave $1,000 and set up a $500 challenge grant to get other restaurants involved. Sunkel said the challenge was met by the Ute City Bar & Grill in Aspen.The telethon and the giving really took off in the last three hours, beginning about the time 12-year-old Max Grange made a plea for the station. Grange, a quadriplegic who gets around in a wheelchair and relies on an electronic device to help him speak, rolled in front of the cameras and said, “I’m Max Grange and I hope you’ll call in and make a donation.”The phones lit up with contributions from Grange’s buddies around town. Also helping out at the end of the telethon were local marketing guru R.J. Gallagher and Marcus Morton. “It just went crazy when they came in. They really lifted us up,” Sunkel said.The station received pledges for $16,800, Sunkel said.


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