Staff Q&A: Christine Ware
Listeners to WXPN aren’t likely to hear Christine Ware on the air any time soon.
But just like David Dye, Michaela Majoun and the station’s other on-air personalities, Ware is a key player at the station.
As WXPN’s fundraising operations manager, she is responsible for helping the station attract new members—and keeping its current members happy.
And since the station counts on membership dues for more than half its operating income, that’s a task of no small importance.
Fortunately for Ware, her job may soon become just a little bit easier.
This fall, WXPN moves into a sparkling new facility at 3025 Walnut Street, in the industrial building formerly known as the Hajoca.
With the opening of the new building, WXPN plans to welcome its members to its studio for a wide range of events—something that just hasn’t been possible at its current cramped location at 3905 Spruce Street.
As the station began its fall fund drive, we talked to Ware about her role at the station and WXPN’s upcoming move.
Q. This must be a busy time for you. How are you involved in the fund drives?
A. I coach the on-air staff, keeping them on track and keeping track of the numbers for them. We have a big board and we track the [membership] numbers and offer suggestions on what they might want to talk about.
Q. As the years have passed, has WXPN found ways to run better fund drives?
A. Definitely. Many public stations have fund drives that are significantly longer than ours. We are known for having short drives—our drives are five days and four hours—and a lot of places have theirs last three weeks.
Q. How do you pull off better drives in less time?
A. We try to stay very focused. We’re very blessed to have an incredible on-air staff that are both experienced in doing it, but also believe in the whole process. They are really good at getting the message across. And we do a lot of support before the drive, too, just letting people know the drive is coming.
Q. What will change for WXPN when you move?
A. A lot. I guess the biggest thing for me is the efficiency. When we have meetings now, our staff is in two separate buildings that are five blocks apart. When we have weekly meetings, we all have to walk at least half an hour back and forth. Also, I’m in charge of sending out thank-you gifts, and sometimes they get sent to the wrong building, so I have to then arrange to pick them up. If that’s 1,000 CDs, you have to bring five people with you with bags. That’s not so fun. And this building is so cramped that we’ve not really been able to do anything for our members. I’m really psyched personally because we’ll be able to have members in and tour the new building, and interact with them on a more personal level. It will really be a very interesting thing.
Q. What will change for members with the new building?
A. We’ll definitely have ongoing tours during our grand opening. We have something called the Arts Circle, and early on we’re having an Arts Circle event in our new studio—a listening party with our music director and Michaela Majoun, who does a lot in the arts community. We’re going to invite people inside our studio, which is cool. We also have Live at the World Café, and we’ll be able to have an audience in the studio for that.
Q. How big a deal is this move for WXPN?
A. It’s huge. Huge. Huge. We’ve done amazingly well with limited space … but this building wasn’t built to be a studio. It’s a beautiful old building, but as our listeners know, we have squirrels that drop in out of the ceiling tiles when we’re trying to have a recording session. In one of our recent famous episodes, a pigeon got in during a session and one of the artists and her bass player were chasing the pigeons around trying to let them back into the wild again. We had to retrofit everything here in a building that was really not designed for it. So from a technical perspective, it will be great. … I also think that to have a place where we’ll be able to say, “That’s the station,” and have our members go see and connect with that—that will be another big, huge plus.
Q. What’s the best part of your job?
A. I think it’s that I’m doing something I really believe in, something that really matters. That’s a little corny, but it’s true. On a more frivolous note, it’s just cool to be around the people who do radio.