Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Show Me What You've Got, Rhode Island PBS!

With hundreds of items of all shapes, sizes, and value available, how do organizers of the Rhode Island PBS Spring Auction show off more of the great merchandise before the event? Put everything online, plus produce a short preview special!

"We already have more than 700 auction items donated this year," said Auction Director Jeffrey Hartley. "In this economy, that speaks to the enormous generosity and support of our donor companies and individuals." He added, "There literally is something for everyone, and in every price range."

Jeff Hartley, who lives in North Smithfield, has been the Rhode Island PBS auction director for seven years, and an employee of WSBE Rhode Island PBS for 21 years. In that time, he has seen technology undergo a huge revolution, and he has kept pace by moving more and more auction activity online.

"This year, for the first time, we have every single Spring Auction item available online," Hartley said. "Last year, we featured the spotlight items - items of higher donor value - and [online bidding] was well received. This year, everything is online, from a $10 pizza to the $24,000 Prius."

Fans of the popular annual event who do not have online access can still watch it live on television and call in to place bids, Monday April 20 through Friday, April 24, beginning at 7 P.M.

"All bids will be placed online, whether it's by the bidders on computers at home, or by the volunteers taking bids over the phone in the studio," Hartley explained.

This year's auction has a Green Gallery that showcases environmentally-considerate goods and services, including the top dollar-value item, a Toyota Prius hybrid sedan, donated by Your New England Toyota Dealer, plus a Vespa LX 50, donated by Vespa Newport and Providence Motorsports.

Conducting the auction online opens it up to a world-wide audience. "Last year, we had auction winners from all over the country, even as far away as California," Hartley said.

Casting a wider net using the 'Net increases visibility and positive exposure for the station – and the many businesses that donated. But it's still the close connection to the local community that differentiates Rhode Island PBS from other public television stations.

"The heart and soul of Rhode Island PBS are our members, donors, and volunteers," Hartley stated. "There is no greater proof of that than our Spring Auction."

More than two dozen of the 700 auction items are featured in a short special preview show that airs at various times throughout April:

  • Friday, April 10 at 7 P.M.
  • Sunday, April 12 at 9 P.M.
  • Tuesday, April 14 at 1:30 A.M.
  • Wednesday, April 15 at 2:30 P.M.
  • Friday, April 17 at 7 P.M.
  • Saturday, April 18 at 1:30 P.M.
  • Sunday, April 19 at 11 P.M.
To view auction items, bid, or for more information about the online auction, visit