WAMU: Radio Station to Some, Family Newsletter to Others

You might not know Tom Kahn, but if you’re a faithful WAMU listener, you probably know when his son was born.

Every other Wednesday for more than five years, Kahn has been a “day sponsor” on WAMU, where his personalized messages have marked everything from his engagement to his wife, economist Susana Schwartz Sanchez, to their marriage and the birth of their son, Benjamin.

Kahn, Democratic staff director on the House budget committee, decided that he needed to do something after a GOP-led Congress began to threaten NPR’s budget. So he began donating to WAMU on a regular basis, receiving the day sponsorships in return. According to WAMU, each $500 contribution entitles a donor to “sponsor” one day in which the station will run three on-air credits with a personal message. With Kahn, a Wednesday morning might bring something like this: “Today’s programs are made possible in part by Tom Kahn in honor of his wife Susy’s birthday.”

As Walt Gillette, director of individual giving at the station, explains, “Tom is unique in the sense that he’s hallmarking his life in the messages.”

“If Benjamin gets a brother or sister, that will get an announcement, too,” says Kahn, who adds that he hopes to be alive long enough to announce grandchildren someday.

This piece originally appeared in the August 2007 edition of the magazine.

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