Foundation Helps Broadcasters in Need

Jim Thompson
Broadcasters Foundation of America

As TV broadcasters, we are a central part of our community. Everyone in town has driven past the TV broadcast tower… that tall spire that transmits essential and relevant information and entertainment. It’s the engineers who are responsible for the tower, the receivers, the transmitters… for all the equipment that enables the television station to broadcast and remain integral to the community, sometimes with life-saving information.

We report on events—local and national— and we do what we can to help our community get through the hard times. We see the joy that emanates from parents and their teens when the high school football team wins a home game and the happiness that radiates from children when the playground in the town’s park is finally completed. We also see the sadness that strikes our community when disaster hits. We are an industry that cares, and we use the power of local television to do something about it!

But what happens when something tragic occurs to one of us? When it’s the TV engineer, the producer, or the news reporter who falls on hard times? That’s when the Broadcasters Foundation of America steps in.

For more than 60 years, the Broadcasters Foundation has provided financial assistance to broadcasters whose lives have been shattered by unthinkable tragedies. A 501(c)3 public charity, the Foundation is unique in that we exist solely to help broadcasters. Our grant recipients are your colleagues, hard-working, dedicated broadcasters who had productive lives and vibrant careers in engineering, programming, on-air, production, sales, management, even ownership, and more. Now, these same broadcasters are destitute because of disease, accident, and advanced age.

The Broadcasters Foundation delivers two types of financial assistance: monthly and one-time emergency grants. Our monthly recipients undergo a thorough screening and application process annually to determine need. Examples of situations where we have provided monthly aid include: a 20-year broadcast veteran who died of a sudden massive stroke leaving two children and a wife who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis; a successful manager paralyzed from the waist down in a tragic motorcycle accident; an elderly couple with stellar broadcasting careers who lost their home and cannot keep up with exorbitant medical costs.

One-time emergency grants have been disbursed to broadcasters whose lives or homes were affected by natural catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy. The emergency grants from the Foundation help offset the destruction caused by these disasters. As we all know, when most people are running for cover, broadcasters stay on the air to deliver vital information that saves lives. How many engineers have weathered a storm to keep their station broadcasting live?

Here are some of the thank you notes we have received from broadcasters that the Foundation has helped:

“MS has slowed every part of my life to something unimagined... My new normal contrasts sharply with my old memories of early sales meetings, days on the road, and then back to the office.”

“Your generosity will allow us to find a new apartment and walk away from our current living conditions, which have unequivocally curtailed my recovery from the stroke.”

“On the first of every month, when we get your check, I send up a special prayer to God to keep you going.”

Reading these stories of these brave broadcasters is a reminder that someone we know might be struggling. Our board of directors is comprised of some of our profession’s most influential leaders: David Barrett from Hearst, Dennis Swanson from Fox, Rebecca Campbell from ABC-TV, Paul Karpowicz from Meredith, Gordon Smith from NAB, and Phil Lombardo from Citadel, who also serves as our Chairman.

The board’s goal is that no broadcaster’s cry for help should ever go unanswered. The requests for aid have more than doubled. In 2014, we will disburse $900,000 in financial assistance, a 100 percent increase from five years ago.

Please, make sure every broadcaster you know is aware of the Foundation and the work that we do. Consider supporting our cause so that we can help those in our industry who need it most. Annual membership to the Broadcasters Foundation is only $150 per year, and a donation can be made to the Guardian Fund in any amount. Please visit our website at or call us at 213-373-8250.

We hope you are never in a position to need charity. But with your support, we will always be there for a broadcaster who needs help.