Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WJCT Auction Not Cheap, but It Sure Is Fun

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WJCT Auction Not Cheap, but It Sure Is Fun

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton, Times-Union columnist

Since he took over as chief executive at WJCT in 1999, Michael Boylan has made a lot of changes to Jacksonville's public radio and television stations.

The radio station has changed formats, WJCT bowed out of the Jazz Festival business, and there were major changes in personnel. At the same time, the TV station has been preparing for the brave new world of high definition television and is on schedule to enter the digital age next year.

But some things Boylan knows to leave alone. When I asked him the other night if The Great WJCT Television Auction, a tradition that dates from the early 1960s, fits into his vision of WJCT's future, Boylan smiled a cautious smile and quickly pledged that WJCT "will continue to do auctions."

As he spoke, the hall outside TV-7's studio was filling with volunteers sipping soft drinks and eating pizza as they waited to begin the third night of the 39th Great WJCT Television Auction.

The auction may not be the most cost efficient method of raising money for a public television station -- the traditional pledge drive raises more money with less effort -- but the auction fulfills other functions.

During 33 hours of programming spread over six nights and two weekends, bargain hunters can find good deals while helping WJCT. Because the people who buy items in the auction tend to be a different group of people than the ones who support WJCT with pledges, the auction also gives WJCT the chance to tap into a different constituency.

The auction has changed dramatically over the years, though the big changes were made before Boylan arrived three years ago. It was Geri Cirillo, vice president of corporate support, who six years ago took over running the television auction and two smaller auctions, a holiday auction each November and a travel auction each February, and began streamlining the auctions. …

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