This month, when Philadelphia’s favorite public-broadcasting outlet, WHYY, launches yet another on-air fund drive, the hosts will undoubtedly look into the camera and say earnestly that viewer contributions are crucial to the station; that those $20, $50 and $100 pledges are vital to generating WHYY’s programming; that, indeed, WHYY could not exist without the financial support of viewers like you.
Here’s what they won’t say: Nearly all the money you send in this month will go to paying their boss’s salary.
Pretty close, anyway. According to the Inquirer, recent WHYY fund-raising drives have grossed anywhere from $600,000 to $800,000—not much more, it turns out, than the $528,800 that station president Bill Marrazzo earned as compensation in fiscal year 2007-’08, and almost exactly what he earned the previous year, when his compensation was an eye-popping $740,000. (Marrazzo got less deferred compensation in ’07-’08, though his base salary actually increased.) In short: Once a year, WHYY has to devote one entire fund-raiser to paying its CEO.
Call it the Bill Beg-a-Thon.
Outrageous? You bet. Particularly considering that WHYY is regarded as a second-tier PBS outfit; that Marrazzo earns more per year than the heads of standout PBS stations in Boston and New York; and that earlier this year, WHYY laid off 17 people as a way to trim expenses in the economic downturn.
Well, fellow Antiques Roadshow lovers, we say it’s time for Marrazz-o-nomics to come to an end.
There’s no better way to get the station’s attention than by not giving—and telling them why you’re not giving. For an official non-pledge card pick up the latest issue of Philadelphia Magazine, currently on newsstands.