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The event, which was canceled in 2020 by pandemic, will be held virtually on April 1

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Rotarian Ken Fahlgren spends some time on the airwaves during the 2019 Rotary on the Radio. The event will be virtual this year.

Like most local events scheduled during the early spring, the annual Rotary on the Radio fundraiser was canceled last year because of the pandemic.

Held annually on April 1, the event helps Rotary Club of Crook County raise money for college scholarship for local students. In 2019, the club was able to raise more than $24,000 from community members that went directly to graduating seniors.

After a one-year break, the event returns in 2021. Because the pandemic continues to limit in-person gatherings, the event will be broadcast via a virtual gathering online and includes an online auction.

"We have had two major challenges this year," said Rotary Club President Carol Benkosky. "First, how to hold a safe fundraiser and second, how do you raise money in the middle of a pandemic when so many people and businesses are hurting financially. But we know that it is hard on the kids too, facing fewer scholarships and raising tuition, so we really felt we needed to do it, even if we didn't raise as much money as past years." 

Typically, funds are raised during the event by selling on-the-air ads, song requests and through a silent auction that lasts the entire day. The event is usually broadcast live from the Bowman Museum starting as early as 6 a.m. and lasting until about 6 p.m. This year, the radio event will start and end at the usual times, but Rotary will be mixing in some breaks.

"In the past, we have been on the radio for 12 hours, but no one wanted to be on Zoom for 12 hours," Benkosky said, "so we are going to do three two-hour blocks (6-8 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.). We may add an hour of radio time at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. if we get enough ads to read."

Also, since it is a virtual event, it will not take place at the museum. However, much of the event is otherwise intact. In partnership with Horizon Broadcasting, Rotary club members will again take over the airwaves of KRCO to promote local businesses who sponsor the event, play song dedications and hear from scholarship recipients. KRCO-AM (690 AM and 96.9 FM) will again contribute the airtime to make the radiothon possible, as it has since 1996.

"Rotary on the Radio has been a tremendous success," Benkosky said. "We couldn't do it without the businesses and individuals who tune in and donate -- and we're once again looking forward to a fun day on the air to generate support for our Crook County scholars!"

People can participate in the online auction by visiting www.charityauction.bid/CrookCountyRotaryOnTheRadio. People are also welcomed to visit the Rotary club's Facebook page for updates at www.facebook.com/Crook.County.Rotary. And of course, they are encouraged to tune-in to KRCO-AM 690 first thing in the morning on April 1.

"We hope people will tune in, and if they can, help us to raise money for our local kids," Benkosky concluded.


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