This is not monkey business. They’re completely serious. And there could be big charity money on the line.
New York City based Internet radio podcast program “Monkey Radio with Marc” has publicly challenged popular celebrities William Shatner, Tina Fey and Jon Stewart to a kind of “interview race,” all in the name of raising money for charity.
In what may be an innovative approach to promotion, the quickly growing program, which has gained more than a quarter of a million listeners in just four months, has launched a campaign on the fundraising website Indiegogo, which includes an explanatory video. Like other fundraising campaigns on the site, supporters can donate as little as a dollar to “Operation Shatner/Fey/Stewart”. At the conclusion (in this case, in 45 days from the date of launch) the money can be donated to a charity.
The difference is this: there’s one catch, and it’s a big one. One of the three celebrities (Shatner, Fey or Stewart) must consent to at least a ten-minute audio interview on “Monkey Radio with Marc”. Once the interview has been provided, the show’s producers have agreed to donate the funds raised in the campaign to The Wounded Warriors Project in the name of whichever of the three celebrities agreed to step up to the microphone first.
The Wounded Warrior Project, according to their website, “works to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members”, among other purposes.
So why these three entertainers, and why this approach? Show creator, executive producer and host Marc Raco says he reveals the full story in the episode which premieres January 14th . “One is an idol, one has been a close call and one has been a near miss at least five times,” Raco states. “It’s about swinging the bat and hoping for a home run. We’re willing to swing the bat. We know it’s a long shot, but long shots are what the entertainment business is all about. We just hope one of the three will take 10 minutes to make a dream come true and grab some cash for this important organization. If we get lucky, the men and women serving our country will benefit via The Wounded Warriors Project. It could be amazing.”
Co-host Ben Rose concedes that this is an unconventional approach to requesting an interview. “Our show is growing fast, and we’ve had some notable guests. We’re on the map enough that we want these bigger names. We’re new enough that we might not yet be on their radar.”
Raco adds “Who wants to be the celebrity who didn’t have ten minutes for those who have risked their lives for us? I wouldn’t. That’s one of the reasons we are doing this” He goes on to say that there were several charities he has considered, but The Wounded Warriors Project won out because every citizen has benefitted from the sacrifices of service men and women.
Either way, the show’s producer (known only as “Elsie”) says that whatever money the campaign raises will still go to charity. “We can’t wait to give what we hope will be a big check. Even if somehow we don’t get the interview, we’ll still have that. It will be a win no matter what.”
She notes that as of the time of the campaign’s launch none of the named celebrities have endorsed the campaign or agreed to participate as of this interview.
In a twist, the show is offering one more incentive to sweeten the pot. The campaign’s “Buddy Bonus” proposes that if one of the celebrities concedes to an interview, and also brings along their most famous colleague (Leonard Nimoy for Shatner, Amy Poehler for Fey and Steven Colbert for Stewart”), the program will also add that wining celebrity’s name to their own show title for six months. Considering the weekly one-hour show has been averaging more than 80,000 listeners monthly, ten minutes of time may be a good trade for what could be useful, free and easy promotion for even the most known star.
Internet-based radio shows, also called podcasts, can range from low-tech conversations between friends which reach very small audiences to successful enterprises hosted by known entertainers and celebrities. Originally from Rochester, NY, Raco is also an actor, comedian, filmmaker and songwriter. He says he launched “Monkey Radio with Marc” as a platform to entertain and with entrepreneurial intent.
“We hoped we’d soon reach hundreds of people and build from there,” he recalls. “Suddenly we’re in the hundreds of thousands and growing steadily, with sponsors and amazing guests. We’re laughing, we hear our audience is having a good time, and we’re talking to fascinating people like infamous computer hacker John Threat and producers of the edgy animated show “The Annoying Orange” and more. Now it’s time to bring it up a couple of notches.”
Raco, who was also recently honored by the Governor of Kentucky as a Kentucky Colonel, noted that he feels a responsibility to live up to the title, which has inspired him to take this charitable route with his program. The website of The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels states that members must “reach out to care for our children [and] support those in need).“
Elsie adds, “He wants to talk to his idols. It probably should be the President or a famous director like Martin Scorsese or someone like that. But if we can get Bill Shatner or Tina Fey or Jon Stewart? And then do some good by raising some cash for charity? We all win.”
More information on “Operation Shatner/Fey/Stewart” can be found at the podcast’s website www.monkeyradio.info. The Wounded Warriors Project can be found at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
According to the program’s campaign, funds are being raised on behalf of Wounded Warrior Project Inc, a verified nonprofit. The campaign does not necessarily reflect the views of the nonprofit or have any formal association with it. All contributions are considered unrestricted gifts and can’t be specified for any particular purpose.
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