Attendees watch a mock radiothon during the Radio Cares for St. Jude
The importance of teamwork was a current that ran through this year’s Radio Cares for St. Jude Kids Seminar: teams of hospital faculty and staff, teams of families and friends, and teams of radio station personnel and entire communities, all united behind a goal of helping sick kids get better.
More than 130 representatives and industry executives from 40 radio stations met in Memphis October 16 and 17 for the third annual Radio Cares for St. Jude Kids Seminar. The seminar is designed to help the stations host successful radiothons to benefit the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Seminar activities began with a welcome luncheon, followed by tours of the hospital, Chili’s Care Center and Target House, and an opportunity to “Meet the Team” of St. Jude health care professionals who are caring for DJ, a St. Jude patient who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 5 years old.
“We appreciate all that you do for us, because it’s a real blessing to provide care for patients like DJ,” said John T. Sandlund, MD, medical director of the hospital’s leukemia/lymphoma clinic, to seminar attendees. Sandlund and two other members of DJ’s team, nurse practitioner Martha May and nurse Regan Goranson, participated in the session. “We talk about being part of a team here,” Sandlund said. “And you are a part of it. You are part of the team, too.”
Sandlund explained the process of DJ’s treatment at St. Jude to the radio representatives, and DJ expressed to them how scared he was when he first got to St. Jude. Then he said the St. Jude staff explained how the procedures “would make me feel better and make the cancer go away.”
DJ, now 9, got a round of applause when his mom Rosalind said DJ is now off therapy and is doing well in school. “It was hard. I never thought it would be my child that was coming to St. Jude,” she said. “DJ helped me to be brave.” DJ and his mother were joined on stage by his little brother and grandmother, both of whom were lauded by hospital staff for their support of DJ, and then teased by a mischievous DJ.
During the second day of the seminar, on-air radio personalities demonstrated the components of a successful radiothon during the mock radiothon segments. Station staff and ALSAC/St. Jude fundraisers also exchanged best practice ideas during roundtable discussions that covered a variety of topics, from industry challenges to building a winning St. Jude sales team. The roundtables and additional sales and programming discussions provided valuable information to stations new to hosting radiothons for St. Jude as well as strategies for enhancing ongoing programs.
Mike Wilson, president of Bicoastal Media, which owns 33 stations in 10 small and medium markets in California, Oregon and Washington, has attended seminars for Radio Cares and Country Cares for St. Jude Kids® for about eight years. He’s also a new member of the Radio Cares Advisory Council.
Wilson noted that the smaller scale of Radio Cares, as compared with Country Cares, allows for more interaction among stations’ representatives. But he also sees a lot of potential in growing the Radio Cares program, especially with the number of formats grouped under the program, including the large listenership of the Adult Contemporary format.
“I think there are tremendous possibilities down the road. I think this has the capability of becoming another Country Cares,” he said. He cited the potential of reaching just one part of the Adult Contemporary market—moms driving their kids to athletic practices. “They are driving their kids to soccer practice and they hear one of the patient clips. And they look in the back seat and see their own healthy kids. I think they are more likely to then pick up the phone. I think we have the ability to reach out to a lot of these audiences and drive additional dollars to St. Jude.”
In addition to the “Meet the Team” session, seminar participants also heard the stories of several St. Jude patients, including siblings Jayla and Felicia, ages 6 and 5, who have a genetic disorder that causes tumor growth; 16-year-old Chase, who has battled a tumor known as craniopharyngioma since he was 14; and Lauren, now 5, who was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma when she was a year old.
“On behalf of all the families at St. Jude, I want to thank you for all that you do to raise money to help. To come here and find out that we don’t have to worry about money, that we don’t have to worry about a place to live, that we can focus on our children means so much,” said Lauren’s mother Benita. “We are greatly appreciative for all you do.”
St. Jude has been actively involved in radiothon fundraising for more than 30 years. Hundreds of radio stations across the country have helped raise more than $370 million for the lifesaving work of St. Jude, and the St. Jude family of partner stations continues to expand. Radio Cares for St. Jude Kids is one of the fastest growing radiothon programs and focuses on station formats such as adult contemporary, gospel, urban, lite rock, classic rock and oldies.