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WEDU has become the media hub of Give Day Tampa Bay


Any other day, Susan Howarth is the president and CEO of public broadcasting station WEDU, a job she's done for eight years.

On Tuesday, Howarth shed her executive title to don headphones and take on the role of floor producer.

Throughout the day, Howarth greeted and guided representatives from dozens of Tampa Bay nonprofits who visited the station's Hough Family Foundation Studios to appear in promotion segments for the third annual Give Day Tampa Bay.

The goal is to give 100 nonprofits a chance to showcase what they do in either live or pre-taped segments or in 30-second "lightning round" interviews, Howarth said.

This was the second year WEDU served as the headquarters for Give Day, a 24-hour online giving challenge championed by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

The PBS TV station came to be the media hub for the event after Howarth said she realized the fundraising event could benefit from a bigger platform and approached Community Foundation with the idea.

The station's participation in Give Day — which sought to raise more than $2 million — plays well with its mission of service to the community that supports it, Howarth said.

"It's just part of the culture here and we know we need to do all we can to make this community better," she said.

The station's other mission is to serve as a "media branch of the nonprofit world," she said.

"We see that as part of our role and service to the community is to help nonprofits," she said.

Teaming with a station that's dedicated to advancing the nonprofit community has been "so amazing," said Marlene Spalten, chief executive officer for the Community Foundation of Tampa Day.

"That really goes to the spirt of Give Day and philanthropy, that it's not me but the community," she said. "We're blessed to be their partner."

Founded in 1959, WEDU has sought to produce programming to — according to its mission statement — "serve the public good and to aid in the creation of an informed citizenry."

Some of the station's popular local shows — Florida This Week, Suncoast Business Forum and Up Close with Cathy Unruh — often feature leaders from nonprofit organizations talking about their causes and organizations.

Additionally, WEDU has partnered with several nonprofit groups to host movie screenings and town halls addressing topics such as human trafficking and youth homelessness.

But WEDU's dedication to the nonprofit community goes even deeper.

In 2005, the station created the Be More Awards, which recognize the efforts of dozens of Tampa Bay organizations and groups.

The annual program not only offers nonprofits a chance to be honored for their work, but also draws donors, volunteers and people needing their services, Howarth said.

At one time a seasonal event, Be More is now a year-round initiative thanks to the Be More Awards website, which features promotional resources — such as photos, video clippings and profiles — that nonprofits can utilize to expand their reach, Howarth said.

Heather Barrow said her nonprofit, High Risk Hope, has benefited tremendously from the exposure it received as WEDU's 2015 recipient of the Be More Unstoppable Nonprofit of the Year

Barrow described the partnership between WEDU and her Tampa-based organization, which helps women and families experiencing high-risk pregnancies, as invaluable.

"They play a vital role in the nonprofit community," she said. "It's not just about TV promotion."

Feeding Tampa Bay shares Barrow's perspective about working with WEDU.

"Partners like WEDU help us raise awareness," Feeding Tampa Bay communications manager Jayci Peters said. "They understand the importance of giving back to the community."

WEDU has become the media hub of Give Day Tampa Bay 05/03/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 4:22pm]
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