WTJX – the station that brings you Masterpiece Theater, Antiques Roadshow, Face to Face, Ritmo del Doce, and a host of local and PBS programs – turns 40 years old in August, and it plans to celebrate all year.
The first event is a massive membership drive. Station representatives will be out in full force Friday at a number of popular areas on St. Thomas and St. Croix, including Post Office Square, Red Hook, Tutu Park Mall, Sunny Isle Shopping Center and Golden Rock.
The goal is to sign up at least 400 new members, one hundred for each decade the Public Broadcasting System affiliate has served the V.I. community, said WTJX Executive Director Osbert Potter.
Memberships start at $40, or as Development Director Yvette Delaubanque counts: “$1 per year.”
With a basic annual membership you receive a WTJX T-shirt and a choice of one of four special gifts. Higher levels of membership net bigger goodies, and there is virtually no limit to how much you can donate.
Memberships are important not only for the direct contribution to the station, but also because some outside funding is based in part of membership figures, Delaubanque said.
Currently the station has about 800 people on its membership list but only some 360 are active. So it’s hoping to get people to renew memberships as well as to draw more.
Like other Public Broadcasting System affiliates, WTJX relies heavily on support from private donations. It also gets some support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and some V.I. government funding, but this last source is decreasing.
Delaubanque said, “Like everybody’s budget, ours is being cut and cut.”
Cuts have forced the station to do more and more fundraising. Its annual Taste of Two Islands relies on help from the community’s restaurant industry.
And this year, Delaubanque said, for the first time in a decade – the station will hold a telethon, relying on help from local bands. From noon to 10 p.m. on March 18 it will air the “Jamathon Telethon.”
In August, there will be a gala dinner dance to really celebrate, and Delaubanque revealed the special guest will be one of the most popular PBS stars – Tavis Smiley.
Anyone interested in joining the WTJX membership pool with their contribution of $40 or more can call 774-6255 on St. Thomas or 718-3339 on St. Croix, or visit the system’s office on either island.