News & Politics

BTS Fans Are Donating to Public Radio Stations

The day after the K-pop group performed a Tiny Desk concert, its fans are sharing screenshots of their donations.

Photo courtesy NPR.

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.

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.

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.

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.”  

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.

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