Meredith had to deal with that perennial dilemma: as a fund-raiser for a local organization to support public broadcasting, she was having difficulty in finding sufficient funds to maintain the level of funding that National Public Radio has become accustomed to. After all, the governmental largesse is only so limited, and the listener base has never been very large. Maybe it's the times, she mused, that have given us the Day of the Locust. Somehow, intellectuals reading from CD jacket notes or program notes has not attained the level of following that the shock jocks or the country music programming has achieved. Alas! The meretricious, short-sighted Flyover people out there just don’t get how important the arts are to our cultural life! After all, what would they do without the nighttime jazz, All Things Considered, or Vassar intellectuals enlightening them as to high culture and The Correct Way to View Things? The corporations have gotten skeptical too; maybe some of them have finally had their thick heads penetrated with the notion that we intellectual elites really hold them in disdain. We should be less blatant.
The radio medium has its limitations when it comes to fund-raising. Some money-making specials are a possibility; but festivals of chamber music from Poughskeepie and chorales from Wolf Trap have not captured the imagination like PBS's running country singers or old folk singers when it comes to fund raising. Clearly, something very different needed to be tried.
Last year's madrigals were undersubscribed. Sponsoring a tour of a troupe of Dorkovian folk dancers didn't bring the public to contribute, although Meredith fondly remembered that they were easy to book and at a low cost. And telethons inevitably result in a drop of ratings. The answer to her dilemma came to Meredith in considerably less than a flash. She remembered last week when she was slumming in a popular market bookstore that she was astounded by the number of colored calendars for sale, all with substantial markups. Especially prominent were the swimsuit calendars. Now these are absolutely tacky, but the general idea could be modified to make a successful fund-raising item without the lowbrow aspects of the girlie calendar! Why not get some NPR staffers, male and female, to pose while wearing swimsuits in sophisticated settings like the Hamptons or the New York Public Library? Let's not forget the Soho galleries or the Kennedy Center. For the sports-minded, maybe some of the more athletic ones could pose ironically in one of those Cathedrals of Green. But only Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, the two stadia where the well-bred might deign to appear. No places for the plebes like Shea Stadium or those places in Flyover Country like Busch Stadium or the Super Bowl! And, obviously, no football settings. Too many of the Great Unwashed are in attendance with their unfortunate women, not to mention those incomprehensible American Idol fans. Just the thought of that program made Meredith shudder a frisson of horror!.
Meredith's fertile imagination began to wonder: "Now let's see: I can wear a bright red-flowered maillot with a pleated skirt, very fashionable for the Country Club. Or should I pose by the stone lions of the New York Public Library, or maybe in the Reference section? And Megan in News could wear what her children call the Granny bikini from the 1960 era. It had yellow polka dots. Millicent? Hmmm, maybe a pareu to flatter her caboose?"
Meredith's vaunted planning skills were further put into gear. First she planned for an Introductory Signing of the Calendars at a New York museum. This would be a dressy affair at a fashionably late hour: dinner jackets for gentlemen; long dresses for the ladies. A nice white wine and subtle brie on crackers would be served to complement the setting. And she knew exactly which chardonnay would make the proper statement when served: one that was subtle yet slightly amusing.
Now professional fund-raiser Meredith went into overdrive and began to flesh out the particulars: “Let’s have a string quartet to play at Introductory Signing of the Calendars, all models transported to settings by limo (Unionized chauffeurs only), no bikinis, no tee shirts. For small extra fee of $60 the purchaser could purchase a tote bag graced with a picture of his or her favorite model from the calendar.” Yes, Ma'am: Meredith was a dynamo when it came to fund-raising mechanics.
And Meredith worked out her estimation of the costs and included a large markup because this calendar was for a nonprofit. She thought, "Twenty dollars should do it; twenty-five dollars by mail. Surely they would be drawn to a swimsuit calendar that was well-bred?”
Meredith wondered how to make a high five gesture to further impress the Program Manager with how with-it and hip she was. She wrote on her "to-do" list: Learn high five.