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On the Fringe Tip

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Since the membership drive ended a few weeks ago (and, by the way, KPCC’s ends today), folks who made their KCRW pledges are now receiving their band new baby blue Fringe Benefits cards in the mail. Based on the fervent announcements made during the drives, you'd think all the money you'll save is almost equivalent to your 401K. But then reality sets in. And without keeping a running tally of expenses mitigated by the privilege of KCRW membership, it’s hard to know how great of a deal it truly is.

There are definitely times when we gladly bust out the card and submit to the station’s near hegemonic taste-making status, like when stocking up on wine and cheese, or books. We’ve also benefited from the discount last time we bought a piece of furniture -- and the savings far exceeded the pledge amount itself.

More often than not, however, we either forget to use the damn thing, or we save a couple bucks. Better than nothing, you might argue. Plus we're leveraging our consumer choices in order to rally around public radio. (Many would argue anyway that appealing to rational self-interest leads to optimized collective outcomes.)

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So when it comes down to it, is KCRW membership really that fiscally advantageous, or are we supporting our local radio station out of altruism -- be it trendy, sincere, or somewhere in between?