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KOZK Teleauction sets $220,000 goal

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

It all started 23 years ago, when a group of ecstatic volunteers celebrated raising $40,000 for a 6-month-old public television station in Springfield.

This year, KOZK Teleauction officials have set a goal of $220,000 for the auction, said Bill Carhart, of KOZK. Over the years, the auctions have pulled in nearly $2.5 million for Ozarks Public Television, Carhart estimated.

Volunteers and former auction chairs Myra Hougue, Jerry Clark and Becky Hogan remember all the hard work that went into those first auctions.

"Nobody had ever seen a teleauction in this town before," Clark said. Until 1972, when Ozarks Public Television began KOZK, Channel 21, people in the Ozarks couldn't see public television at all. It was in response to the needs of local schools for PBS' educational programming that a group of volunteers from the Junior League and the Chamber of Commerce got together to begin the station, said Jan Horton, now president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, but a one-time volunteer and later employee of KOZK.

"We started with seed money from the Junior League, and the chamber got on board, too," Horton said.

Horton's sister, Sen. Roseann Bentley, was then a member of the Junior League of Springfield. She wrote a letter to the FCC and began the process for getting the station up and running, Horton said.

Almost as soon as youngsters in the Ozarks were starting to look forward to seeing Bert and Ernie every day, the new television station began to need money. Clark chaired the teleauction during its first and second auctions.

"We borrowed nearly everything in the beginning. We got blackboards from SMS and borrowed long banquet tables," Clark said.

The long banquet tables proved to be somewhat confusing, so Dr. Jim Brown and Dr. Tom Collins constructed the auction tables that are still being used today, Clark said. Brown was the first executive producer of the teleauction.

The second teleauction generated $75,000, Clark said, nearly twice what the first raised. In the beginning, the money raised was to be used for the station's general operations, Clark said, but in the late 1980s, the money came to be used for programming purposes.

Now, the teleauction again supports all aspects of the station's operations. Federal cutbacks in spending for public television and drops in membership have prompted a greater dependence on teleauction revenue, Carhart said.

The teleauction has had a variety of themes and promotional icons associated with it throughout the years, Clark said. The first was "Tele," a "hillbilly-type character" designed by a local high school art student. The teleauction continued to have various themes and logos, and area advertising agencies became involved in the designs, Clark said.

When Jim Brown resigned as executive producer, Bud Lines, whose family had owned music and audio-video stores in the Ozarks for nearly 100 years, became the executive producer, lending his communications expertise, and his camera equipment, to the cause, Clark said.

The auction's role in funding public television in the Ozarks has changed over the years, Carhart said.

"In the beginning, the teleauction was crucial because we needed the money. There was a point where it became the icing on the cake, but now we're back to the point where it is very needed," Carhart said.

This year's theme is "Hats off to Auction '98," and it will be held April 17-24, Carhart said. The station will bring back Arts Sunday April 19, and the art to be auctioned will go on display at Waverly House April 10. The warehouse will open Feb. 2, and Smile and Dial operators are already calling and asking local businesses to contribute to the teleauction, Carhart said.

Last year, the teleauction raised $178,000, Carhart said. "It is crucial that we break $200,000 this year," he added.

On-air promotion guidelines for the teleauction state that an item of between $50 and $299 of donor value receives a visual/audio presentation on air. Items of $300 to $799 receive a video and audio promotion and get a listing in the teleauction program guide.

Major gifts start at $800. A gift of $800 to $1,499 gets two presentations prior to the night of sale. A gift of $1,500 to $2,999 gets four presentations over three nights, and gifts of $3,000 and over get a 30-second video presented once over six nights and twice prior to sale on the seventh night. The donor is also invited to appear on air for a thank you during the sale of the item. [[In-content Ad]]

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