NEWS published on 17 Dec 2014 • Department / Unit Radio Media

NPO gifts fund-raising radio format to EBU Members this Christmas

The secrets of a charity-driven format perfected by Dutch EBU Member NPO over ten years will be rolled out by this year by more Members of the Euroradio Community.         

‘Serious Request’ was created in 2004 by NPO subsidiary 3FM as a means of raising money for charity, meeting audience expectations of public service values.

Since then, the concept has spread beyond the Netherlands and this year, six other countries in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Latvia, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland) will copy the format locally.

A week before Christmas, a team of announcers lock themselves inside a glass studio in a high-traffic public place.

Listeners donate money to a nominated charity in exchange for a live-music dedication from the DJs, who fast for six days, only drinking juice.

Celebrities are also invited to participate and donate personal items, or deliver impromptu performances.

NPO Radio directorJan Westerhof says public service values are at the heart of the format’s success.  

"’Serious Request’ connects us to society and in particular, young audiences, who are increasingly challenging to reach,” he said. “In that sense, it’s a great format, and one which has re-positioned 3FM. In the past there’s been debate about the need to launch a 'pop station' to attract young people. ‘Serious Request’ addresses that need. Any doubts about NPO’s engagement with young audiences is satisfied.”

EBU head of radio Christian Vogg says the EBU is pleased to help promote the format across the Euroradio community.

"The Euroradio Committee decided in late 2013 to help publicize the format among the Membership with financing from the Euroradio Development Fund,” he said. “Phase one was a special promotion at the Euroradio Assembly in May 2014 in Amsterdam. Phase two was a workshop in October 2014 to inform and train Members wanting to roll out the format. Nine stations took part, reflecting a high level of interest.”  

Mr Westerhof said the extra funds were used to recruit the services of a special producer to refine and develop the format.  

"We only can do this with the kind financial support of the Development Fund of the EBU and colleagues in Europe," he said.

In 2011, Serious Request raised €22.5 million across five countries. In the Netherlands, more than €12 million was collected to combat diarrhea among children in developing countries in 2013.  This year’s edition will collect money for Red Cross initiatives.

ORF radio director Karl Amon says Serious Request has inspired other Members to follow NPO’s example. “With the ‘ö3 Weihnachtswunder’ (Christmas miracle) ORF is making its resources available to help those in need. This is public service to the core. We want to initiate a little happiness and create small miracles.”

Participating Members

  • ORF, Salzburg, Austria: 19 to 24 December. ORF colleagues were so inspired by the October workshop that their initiative was launched pre-Christmas period. Hitradio Ö3 erect glass studios in the middle of Salzburg and the entire station will relocate from Vienna to Saltzburg for a week in cooperation with ‘Licht ins Dunkel (light into darkness) - the traditional ORF-donation-campaign with a history since 1973.
  • RTBF, Belgium: 17 to 23 December. The campaign themed “Viva for Life” takes place in Liège and collects money for Children in Need. In 2013, Seriou s Request in Belgium collected EUR1.267.351.
  • LR, Riga, Latvia: 17 to 23 December, The goal is to identify and support low-income elderley without relatives.
  • 3FM, Haarlem, Netherlands: 18 to 24 December. This year’s edition ‘Hands off our girls’ aims to raise awareness and funds for female victims of sexual violence in areas of conflict around the world. Here, DJ Coen Swijnenberg explains why the campaign matters.
  • RTP, Lisboa, Portugal:  03 to 06 December. EUR 410.000 raised to counter poverty among Portuguese children with the event Toca a Todos
  • SR, Upsala, Sweden:  The theme for ‘Musikhjälpen’ is ‘Help stop the spread of HIV.’ 120 guests and 50 music-acts will not only seek to raise money, but to promote audience engagement. The goal is to trigger 200,000 different initiatives across Sweden and raise €3 million.
  • SRG, Switzerland: 17 to 23 December in Lucerne. The theme for ‘Jeder Rappen zählt‘ is ‘Families on the run.’ The project team has been to Jordan and Uganda to produce eye-witness accounts from refugee camps.