We recently ran a listener survey for Freakonomics Radio. Among the interesting findings: only (or should that be “only”?) 18 percent of the respondents are members of a public-radio station. A reader named Steve Cebalt wrote in to ask about the nature of public-radio membership:
So it’s pledge week at my local public radio station, when they interrupt my favorite news programs with appeals for money. Funny, I used to be on the board of directors of this station, so I have a great appreciation for it.
But I am not a member. I don’t pay. I am supposed to feel guilty, but I don’t. You know why?
Because I am not really causing a negative externality on others — am I ?
Whether I listen or not, they’ll still broadcast right? And others contribute freely of their own volition. So is anyone harmed if I listen (or don’t listen) without donating?
I’d love to see your blog readers rip into this question from a Freakonomics perspective:
So go ahead, people. Rip. Remember everything you’ve ever thought about free-ridership, slippery slopes, and critical mass on issues like voting.