COVID-19 causes CET/ThinkTV to make changes to live auction

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The coronavirus pandemic has caused Dayton and Cincinnati PBS stations to change their biggest moneymaker.

For more than 50 years, the live Action Auction has been the biggest annual fundraiser for CET and ThinkTV.

“We still have a lot of faith, a lot of faith that our customers will find us, will bid, and will bid high and will bid often,” says Dr. O’dell Owens, who is in his tenth year as auction chair.

Public TV depends on the money and donations from the auction, which typically brings hundreds of volunteers together for a live broadcast in April.

“It’s a fun thing. It’s where we have 30 volunteers who at any given time are manning our phone bank. We have four boards and nine items per board. An auctioneer will introduce the board and then they have two minutes to sell the board and then they start calling in. Those phones are ringing. There’s excitement,” describes Owens.

This year, the auction was pushed back until September and looks different with the addition of online bidding, reduction of volunteers, and a socially distanced, spaced-out phone bank. Instead of a scheduled pickup day, winning items will have to be picked up by appointment only. The money brought in from bids is crucial to crucial programming.

“The main reason that I participate is because of great children’s programming. It’s unfortunate but we have children in our society who learn to count watching Sesame Street,” says Owens.

Educational shows are made possible by the fundraiser and are even more important now as many children are home and learning remotely.

“Public TV is just so important, especially in this upside down 2020,” states Owens.

The auction starts Wednesday and runs through Saturday with a goal of bringing in $220,000.

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