Radio Fam Features: Proof That Being Ourselves Sincerely Helps Others
Radio Fam Features: Proof That Being Ourselves Sincerely Helps Others
We are defined by countless characteristics as broadcasters. Arguably the most remarkable one is resilience.
That resilience is not just defined by our ability to bounce back after layoffs or long days and nights. It’s how even in the most uncertain circumstances–when our worlds are rocked (and not in a fun way)–we still use our platforms to help others stand strong.
It’s funny–the three members of The Radio Fam who shared their incredible philanthropic accomplishments with me–somehow–all discovered the same thing afterwards: just being ourselves is more powerful than we think.
“Take the leap because you can. You don’t need a big platform. You can just do it.”- Nina Blanco (@theninablanco)
Nina Blanco’s story starts with a man whose name she never knew, but whom she brought breakfast to every morning.
Coming up on five years in Denver, Colorado, Nina has observed the area’s unhoused population drastically increase. Tents were popping up in neighborhoods where they hadn’t been before. City parks were shutting down because they became unsafe.
“Man, what can I do?” Nina explained the concern she felt watching this problem grow. “I can barely make enough money to support myself.” Nonetheless, she started making a man on her path to work a daily breakfast. “I’ve always seen [this issue]. In my heart, I think, ‘what can you do?’”
Then, Nina had to figure out what to do in more ways than one. She was laid off from her radio job with iHeart in 2021. Needing to fend for herself, she still saw a silver lining. “This is my opportunity to do what I have been wanting to do.”
“Working in corporate radio, you need something approved when you want to do an initiative,” Nina explained. “One of the best parts of being a part of a radio station is being in tune with the community, but the shelters are last to be looked at for some reason.”
After launching The Nina Blanco Podcast in January 2022, Nina took to her powerful platforms to raise money for Denver’s unhoused community.
In only two weeks, she raised $1,635 to make baskets filled with hygiene products for women living at Denver’s Volunteers of America Irving Street Women's Residence.
Nina literally just asked her audience if they wanted to donate to this cause. “Are people going to give you money? People aren’t just going to Venmo me large sums of money because I was on the radio and I have a platform,” or so Nina thought. “I don’t look at it as strangers on the internet—they are my friends. They know I’m a trustworthy person—I know many of them, too, and that’s a choice they are comfortable making.”
Using the money she raised, Nina and her friends filled Galentines hygiene baskets with soap, hair brushes, dental items, hair ties, body lotion, deodorant, tampons, facemasks, tweezers, razors–and menstrual cups donated by June Cup. Yes–Nina made that connection, too, and the company was happy to pitch in.
Oh–and so was a Vodka company who donated $100 AND free vodka for her and her friends to throw a Galentines basket assembly party. I mean, come ON! Broadcasters are SO powerful!
This seasoned broadcaster managed to get everything she planned for the baskets and more–even little hanging terrarium kits for the women at the shelter. “It’s so important, as a human being…to have a little extra,” Nina said.
After the success of the Galentines baskets, Nina now wants to start a nonprofit. “I learned there’s a lot more than I need to learn,” like how to handle taxes, buy items to donate more efficiently, Nina said.
“It’s so scary to think about doing things on your own,” Nina acknowledged. “Take the leap because you can. You don’t need a big platform. You can just do it.”
“Who you are is the most powerful thing in your arsenal.”- Anthony (@WorstAnthony)
Anthony had just walked into his apartment when he first got word about the massive ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut, Lebanon–where much of his family lives.
“In the Middle East, when you hear about an explosion, you think a war is breaking out,” Anthony explained. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘What does this mean? Where’s my family right now?”
As more news of the August 4, 2020 disaster trickled in, Anthony hoped there wasn’t going to be more destruction. When the world saw the scope of the destruction through the lens of social media…it quickly became really…real.
The explosion caused more than 200 deaths and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless. Simply unimaginable.
“You know there’s this insane thing that just happened, but there’s nothing you can do right away because you don’t have the context of what happened,” Anthony said. “It’s a weird helpless feeling.”
As helpless as Anthony felt, the urge to do something to help was immediate. He thought about flying to Lebanon, but with COVID in full swing, it wasn’t realistic.
Not to mention–Anthony had just been let go from iHeart in Seattle just days prior to the August 4, 2020 explosion. “Because we had just been let go less than a month before, it was really a point to reflect,” Anthony said. “As crappy as I felt going through the ups and downs of unemployment, [this] grounded me in how to move forward. There are so many bigger things in the world than just how you get your paycheck.”
Within a week, Anthony had organized the Benefit for Beirut on Twitch that streamed through The Carla Marie and Anthony show. After opening up Venmo and PayPal accounts for donations, $10,000 was raised and then donated to the Lebanese branch of the Red Cross.
“It’s been the most fulfilling thing I’ve done,” Anthony said, nearly tearing up on the phone with me. “When I saw the money coming in, I cried. This was personal, my dad was born in Beirut.”
Anthony is first generation Middle Eastern and the first generation “him” he had seen in his town growing up. Raising the money for Beirut gave Anthony the opportunity to be a voice for people in similar groups who don’t have a platform. “We are blessed with an incredible platform, to not do something positive with it is pretty selfish,” Anthony said. “Who you are is the most powerful thing in your arsenal.”
“If we can use our humor, that’s what I want to do.”- Shawn Tempesta (@shawntempesta)
How do you make one of the most distressing realities fun and exciting? Ask Shawn Tempesta. Using his platforms and Free4All show on Twitch, he’s raised tens of thousands of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Free4All is just as it sounds. It’s everyone, everything, and anything entertaining presented as a radio/TV hybrid experience. A game or variety show, if you will.
In 2021, Shawn set out to use Free4All and his other platforms to raise money for St. Jude, his goal was $7,000. Well, that goal was SHATTERED and raised just shy of $13,000!
This year Shawn set a goal of raising $20,000. Surprisingly–yet somehow, not at all–it happened. TWENTY. THOUSAND. DOLLARS. All toward making sure families of children getting treated for cancer never have to pay for treatment, travel, housing or food.
“What I do know is my show is super interactive,” Shawn described how raising money through his show would be a no-brainer. “I’m sure I could get silly things to happen, and people would throw money at it.”
Free4All raised money as part of the Suit Up for St. Jude campaign. Out of the 13 other groups participating in that initiative this year, Shawn and Free4All raised about as much as the rest of them combined.
INCREDIBLE, right? But HOW? What’s Shawn’s secret?
Spoiler: it’s being–and EMBRACING–himself.
“Two words: dunk tank.” Uh, what, Shawn? “ You go to that school fundraiser and THAT is what people are lining up to do. We all have the ability to do a dunk tank.” Oh…GENIUS!
What’s also genius is Shawn’s insight on doing fundraisers on individual platforms. You don’t have to change your format or mood of your show to raise money. Lean into what you do–and make it fun. “Mix in the medicine. I don’t wanna get the hard sell. I want to be entertained. If we can use our humor, that’s what I want to do.”
Written by: Eryn Cooper | @OnAirWithEryn | OnAirWithEryn.com