As most Brown students were just returning to campus for a new semester, the 360 Degree Experience in Sound on 95.5 WBRU hosted a pay-by-play fundraiser for Haiti Jan. 24. All donations went to the church-based organization Providence-Haiti Outreach.
The event — which began at 6 a.m. and lasted for 20 hours — raised over $5,000, with the majority of callers pledging between $10 and $20, said Programming Director Quyen Ngo '12. Listeners also donated clothes and shoes, including "a lot of Nikes," said 360 staff member Henry Kerins '11. Toward the end of the fundraiser, shortly after one DJ made a remark about a need for tents in Haiti, one caller donated a 4-room, 10-person tent.
"We didn't have a lot of time to advertise," said Urban Promotions Director Peter Drinan '11. He added that 360 was worried that people would already have donated as much as they were willing to the "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon, which involved dozens of celebrities and non-profit organizations and aired just two days before.
But their concerns quickly dissolved as WBRU's listeners exhibited a generosity that impressed the staff and volunteers. One listener called repeatedly to make $50 donations before making a final $500 contribution, Kerins said.
"The response was inspirational," said Drinan.
Over the course of the broadcast, listeners heard from Francis Guidice, executive director of Providence-Haiti Outreach, and others involved with the organization who had been in Haiti recently.
"We didn't want to have a radio-a-thon without a voice for the organization we were funding," Ngo said.
Providence-Haiti Outreach rebuilds schools in Haiti and helps displaced children, which Ngo said she thought encouraged listeners to pledge.
"That's the good thing about having a local organization be the focus," she said. "Our station caters to the huge community connection."
As the 360 staff works on transferring the clothing donations to Providence-Haiti Outreach, they will continue to update listeners on the ways in which their donations are helping the earthquake survivors, Ngo said.
"Our station's efforts for Haiti reflects some of the changes in terms of (the media's ability to) mobilize people," said Ngo. "Our duty is to use the apparatus that we have to help in whatever way possible."