‘Bid’ hello to the Great TV Auction

Going once, going twice, SOLD! Gosh, I love that kind of talk.

And you’ll hear plenty of it this week during the “Great TV Auction,” airing now on ThinkTV16 and ThinkTV14, your local PBS stations. It’s a raucous, fun event to watch and offers a great opportunity to bid on a wonderful array of items from A to Z.

“This year, the auction continues to bring food, entertainment, travel and family items to the auction block, plus many wonderful items for your home, garden or professional needs,” Kay High, associate director of development for the television stations, said.

The very first auction took to the airwaves in 1977 from the Dayton Mall – and there is a purpose behind the gavel.

For those ThinkTV and Public Broadcasting System viewers, you’re well aware of one important thing while checking out a favorite program – no commercials.

Ads, of course, make the world go ’round for commercial TV stations, but PBS is the public’s airwaves, supported by viewers, grants and, of course, auctions. After all, somebody has to pay for the programming. The goal this year is $220,000 which offsets the cost of “Downton Abbey,” “Sesame Street” and “Antiques Roadshow,” just to name a few.

“ThinkTV is the most widely used non-profit educational, cultural and informational service in southwestern Ohio,” High said. “Each week, more than 500,000 viewers watch quality programming on ThinkTV16 and ThinkTV14. More than 100 school districts, serving 20,000 teachers, and more than 400,000 students, receive ThinkTV’s daily educational programming and services.”

Meanwhile, back at the auction, it takes all hands on deck, plus even more to pull this off every year.

“The ThinkTV staff of at least three works on the auction for approximately six months out of the year, contacting donors and pulling all the aspects of the auction together,” High continued. “A committee of approximately 35 dedicated volunteers work as managers of their specific areas for approximately four months before the auction. Each year, it takes a combined effort of donations, sponsors and in-kind contributors to make the event a success.”

Thirty-five volunteers and staff, huh? Oops, I stand corrected.

“The auction utilizes approximately 800 volunteers over the months leading up to and including the event itself,” High said. “The selfless dedication of the volunteers is what makes this event possible. My favorite quote is from a past operations committee chair. He brought a board member down to the auction one night and while giving him a tour, the board member asked, ‘How many staff members does it take to put this huge event on?’ The chair replied, ‘These are all volunteers that you see.’ That is the greatest thing about our auction; you can’t tell the volunteers from the staff, we’re all one family. They are the greatest!”

“The Great TV Auction” is, of course, live as it happens – and things that shouldn’t happen sometimes do.

“Two years ago our set-up and display chair, Pam, was putting items up on her table before the camera came to her and one of the overhead lights blew out and literally lit her hair on fire!” High remembered. “Everyone on the floor was running around getting water, because she burned her head. Well, she went right back to working the auction. We’ve had lots of injuries where we’ve had to stay on the air, the other volunteers pretend nothing is going on and it never ceases to amaze me.”

And they couldn’t do any of it without the ongoing support from loyal donors.

“They are fabulous and support us through items and services they either donate philanthropically, or like to highlight on television to promote what they do,” High said. “The majority of our retail donors for general merchandise are locally-owned retailers, smaller shops who receive television recognition through their donation. We also have corporate sponsors that sponsor boards and the phone banks. Without them, we couldn’t afford to produce this event, which takes hours of our production staff’s time. We truly appreciate every dollar and item our donors donate.”

“The Great TV Auction” continues through Saturday, and if you look closely Thursday night between 8 and 11 p.m., you may see a guy that looks like me on TV helping out.

When I’m off camera, I’ll be bidding on the Dogs Playing Poker velvet painting, so hands off!

Cheers and bid (Kay) high. Sorry, couldn’t resist.


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