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YOUNGSTOWN — WYSU station director Gary Sexton plans to run his age, or 65 miles, on Monday, Oct. 25 in pursuit of raising support and funds for local public radio.
WYSU, 88.5 FM, is a listener-supported public radio station licensed to Youngstown State University.
Classical music was the primary format when WYSU began 52 years ago, but has since added national news programming such as "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" as well as informational and various musical programming, Sexton said.
“It's a place that I think is a super valuable resource to the community and it would be great if more people were aware of us and also utilized us,” Sexton said.
Sexton has been with WYSU for 32 years and has been an avid runner since adolescence. For him, it was a no-brainer to combine those passions, together with his love of nature, for a special event for this year’s fund drive.
“We've been doing our public radio fund drives differently since the pandemic started. More casual, less intense we don't have volunteers here. All our pledges [and] donations are coming in online,” he said. “It was kind of a way to create a little buzz, do a little something different, merge the two things (running and radio) together. Our audience knows I've been a runner for a long time because occasionally I've talked [it]. … It kind of resonates, I think, with people, especially as I'm getting older that I'm still trying to do this.”
Sexton told Mahoning Matters that he did a similar fundraiser for WYSU once before in 2005 — running his first ultramarathon of 50 miles to raise money for a new transmitter at the station with approximately $40,000 in donations.
As of now, WYSU has over 470 contributions. Their goal is to hit 1,000 contributions by the end of October. Sexton said it’s important to support WYSU because the station is largely community-funded.
“I think one important distinction is that we're a local public radio station. We don't do advertising and right now about 60 to 65% of our funding is our responsibility and we do have funding from the university. So, these fund drives — we have two a year — are critical and most of the funds go toward a network programming that we purchase from NPR and other public radio services and for some of the support [and] things we need to actually broadcast those programs,” he said.
“So we have a constant baseline need of local funds through these membership campaigns and through underwriting that organizations do want to station, businesses and organizations,” he added.
Community members can sponsor the run by donating dollars per mile that he will run on the Greater Allegheny Passage by visiting this site.
Once there, click 'One Time Donation Of Any Amount', and enter the amount.
● $1 per mile = $65.00
● $2 per mile = $130.00
● $3 per mile = $195.00
● $5 per mile = $325.00
● $7 per mile = $455.00
● $10 per mile = $650.00