BTS’s Tiny Desk concert for NPR set a record for online viewership Monday. Later that day, Gabe Rosenberg, the digital news editor for Columbus, Ohio, NPR affiliate WOSU, encouraged the K-pop band’s fans to donate to public radio stations to say thanks.
— Gabe Rosenberg (@GabrielJR) September 21, 2020
Rosenberg’s feed quickly filled with replies from BTS fans saying they’d done exactly that, something I experienced as well after I shared his tweet Tuesday morning.
Happy to donate to my local NPR station. Thank you for having @BTS_twt on Tiny Desk today. I knew #BTSxTinyDesk would be amazing. I’m still crying hours and multiple viewings later. ? pic.twitter.com/OFfIpSoo87
— ˗ˏˋMarissa⁷ˎˊ˗ (@mll630) September 21, 2020
I donated to WMRA, Harrisonburg, VA. Thank you again for hosting BTS, it was a fantastic tiny desk concert. ? pic.twitter.com/vOCweFjoET
— ⟭⟬ heather⁷ ⟬⟭ BTS Hot 100 #1 artists (@kaerwyns) September 21, 2020
— lil roar roar⁷ ?? (@lilroarroar1) September 21, 2020
Public radio stations are independent operations and there’s no central database of donations, says NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara, who notes that the concert now has more than 6 million views online, and NPR Music got 100,000 new subscribers to its YouTube channel since Monday morning. Anecdotally, she says, people—many of them for the first time—definitely seem to be donating to say thanks for the concert, sending along a tweet from Nebraska’s public-radio network as an example.
Thanks for your donation! Glad you enjoyed the Tiny Desk Concert. We think members like you are dynamite. pic.twitter.com/LAmmN07Zun
— NET Nebraska (@NETNebraska) September 21, 2020
Mass donations are not a new phenomenon for the Korean band’s many fans, who are known as ARMY. They raised more than $1 million for Black Lives Matter after the band and its label donated the same amount earlier this year, for instance, and this map shows hundreds of projects to which the group’s fans have funneled donations.
Rosenberg says that after his tweets about donating went crazy, “My TweetDeck was relatively unusable for most of the day.” He says the surge of contributions is especially welcome during an extremely trying time for local journalism. “One Tiny Desk concert can’t really reverse the effects of a pandemic on a local newsroom’s budget, but it does something to make you a little optimistic about why you’re doing what you’re doing.”