No one wants to donate. Everyone hates the pledge drive. When the daily National Public Radio programming is put on hold so that a couple of part-time intern-ish broadcasters can beg listeners for a few dimes, most people switch the dial to AM sports talk. But when Ira Glass, host of the hugely popular This American Life comes on the radio, you know that they just brought in their closer.
Ira Glass is not someone you’d think of as a closer. He’s not Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. He looks like a mix of Buddy Holly and Billie Joe Armstrong and he sounds like your average run of the mill nerd. But boy, he makes sense. He cuts his pitch down from the general and talks to the individual. He talks to the addicts who are still listening even to the pledge drive. He makes sense. He also makes you feel guilty, not in the terrible guilty where you end up eating a dozen donuts, but the guilty where you pick up the phone. The other day, after calling a big-listening non-donator at home, he actually got the guy to say, “I’ve been a scoundrel.” That’s incredible! He got a grown man to call himself a scoundrel and then donate. And imagine all the dozens of other scoundrels listening to that who called in afterwards. Ira Glass could be as good as Ron Popeil, “Pledge-it and Forget it!” an expert pitchman.
Ira Glass is an incredible reporter, but he might be an even better pledge-drive pitchman. Now back to your regularly scheduled program.