WGN listeners raise over $23,000 in 2.5 hours


After hearing thieves had stolen two air-conditioning units and stripped the copper piping from the two they left behind from Chicago’s Animal Welfare League (leaving over 100 animals sweltering in the heat), WGN Radio midday host John Williams decided to take action.

At the beginning of his 7/7 show at 12:30 p.m., Williams launched a fundraising campaign, asking listeners to donate in hopes of reaching the $20,000 goal by 10 a.m. Friday morning. An outpouring of support followed, resulting in $23,580 raised by 3 p.m. as John’s show ended. In addition to the support of thousands of listeners, several companies came forward with contributions including the Chicago Blackhawks, the LaGrange Pet Parade and Mack Companies, a Tinley Park-based company that volunteered to install the units for free. The event was also coordinated on Williams’ Facebook page.

“It was getting hotter and hotter,” Linda Estrada, director and president of the Animal Welfare League, told The Chicago Tribune. “We beg for everything, and now we don’t have air-conditioning. We desperately need help and homes.”

Estrada said when she spoke with Williams on-air, “I am jumping up and down. I can’t believe it.”

RBR-TVBR observation: WGN hosts are pretty consistent with on-the-spot rescues of local businesses and organizations, and they tie in local businesses and listeners to aid in the effort. This emphasizes to the local community and local advertisers how powerful live and local radio can be—in any size community. Another good example from WGN was the Greg Jarrett show’s response to a fire that destroyed Eva’s Bridals in that Market. WGN launched a campaign on its Facebook page to help connect brides-to-be that had lost their gowns with women willing to lend their old wedding dresses to those in need.