During our conversation, I used the analogy that it would be like asking restaurant businesses to compete to donate food
for the pledge drive. As in, "Okay, you guys go ahead and make the food you want to donate, bring it all over, and then we'll look at all the donations and pick the food we like best. Be sure to do a nice job, because this is a contest, and if you win, we'll mention your business on the air! If we don't pick your donation, however, then tough luck -- you'll get nothing for all your trouble. Sorry, too, for all the wasted time, effort and resources you'll have put into it." This analogy (as well as a few key phrases quoted from Tim Kreider's wonderfully-articulate NYT op-ed article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/opinion/sunday/slaves-of-the-internet-unite.html?emc=eta1&_r=1
) -- helped get the message across!
The station manager and I agreed that it'd be awkward to go on the air and cancel the contest at this point, but he did agree that KAZU would not hold any more such contests in future.
Here's to small victories. (And I didn't even have to cancel my membership!).
I've been a proud member of KAZU for over a decade, but I am writing to tell you how dismayed I was to hear that KAZU is holding a "design competition" to acquire free artwork for a mug that will be offered to its subscribers.
Citing such incentives as "we want to involve you in what we do" and "this is a way you can leave a lasting impression on KAZU Public Radio", KAZU is, in fact, asking any number of artist/designers to spend their valuable work time and creative energy on something that, for all but one of them, will result in no (absolutely zero) reward, and which for one "lucky" winner will result in "significant on-air mentions during the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 membership drives" -- or, in other words, no monetary compensation whatsoever.
These types of contests are inherently unfair to artists who, despite the myth of "getting paid to play all day", are actually highly-skilled professionals who work long hours, often for modest pay. By holding a "design competition", you are taking advantage of a large number of creative people, (slimly) rewarding only one of them, and acquiring your very own custom mug-design for free.
This is completely different from a situation in which you might approach an artist whose work you like and ask them to create and even donate a design you fully intend to use. In such a case, the artist would at least know from the outset that his or her work would end up being used for its intended purpose, that it would not have been created for nothing, and would -- presumably -- reach an audience the artist has deemed valuable to the development of his or her business.
As mentioned above, I have been a member of KAZU for many years. This issue is of such moral and professional importance to me, however, that I regret to say I will not be renewing my membership. Until I'm assured that the station will no longer hold "competitions" that endeavor to induce creative people to work purely on speculation, I'll not only withhold my own membership but will strongly encourage my colleagues and illustration students (as well as their friends and associates) not to support a radio station that endeavors to take advantage of people in creative professions.
For additional discussion on how spec work harms artists/designers as well as the outcome of design projects themselves, please read more at http://www.nospec.com
(a site with which I have no personal affiliation).
I look forward to a response from KAZU regarding this issue.