Monday, April 5, 2010

"Show Me What You've Got!" Spring Auction Preview Show

With hundreds of items of all shapes, sizes, and values available, how do organizers of the 2010 Rhode Island PBS Spring Auction show off more of the merchandise before the event? Put everything online, and produce a preview show.

"We have already received more than 300 auction donations this year, and we expect delivery of 400 more items," said Auction Director Jeffrey Hartley. "In this economy, that speaks to the enormous generosity and support of our donor companies and individuals." He added about the donations, "There literally is something for everyone, and in every price range."

Jeff Hartley, of North Smithfield, has been the Rhode Island PBS auction director for eight years, and an employee of WSBE for 22 years. In that time, he has seen technology undergo a huge revolution, and he has tried to keep pace by moving more and more auction activity onto the Internet.

"Every Spring Auction item will be posted online," Hartley said. "We started using the Web two years ago, featuring items of higher donor value. Last year, the entire inventory went online, and people loved the convenience. So, again this year, everything from a $10 pizza to a $20,000 car will be available for preview and bidding online starting April 1."

In addition to browsing item images and descriptions, online bidders will know the exact time each item will be sold, to help them devise their bidding strategy. During the televised auction, watchers can track the bidding activity in real time. The auction site also permits proxy bidding, which means a higher, maximum bid can be placed on reserve, but only the minimum dollar amount needed to win the auction will be used. Although not foolproof, this strategy is especially useful if a bidder really wants a particular item, but either cannot monitor the final bidding, or suspects increased competitive bidding activity as the item is being sold off.

"A bid can sit unchallenged for days or even weeks, but there are watchers are keeping an eye on it," Hartley noted. "Then, in the final minute, bids come in from all over, and the person whose bid was winning two minutes ago, loses out. That's happened several times. It's actually what makes live auctions so exciting."

Fans of the popular annual event who do not have Internet access can still watch the auction live on television and call in to place their bids from Monday April 26 through Friday, April 30, beginning at 7 P.M. each evening.

"All bids will be placed online, whether bidders do it themselves on computers at home, or by calling our studio and having our volunteers place bids online," Hartley explained.

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 goods and services. But it's still the close connection to the local community that differentiates Rhode Island PBS from other public television stations in the region.

"The heart and soul of Rhode Island PBS is our relationship with the community - our members, donors, and volunteers," Hartley stated. "There is no greater evidence of this dynamic than our Spring Auction."

More than two dozen Spring Auction items will be featured in a half-hour preview show, airing at various times throughout April on both WSBE Rhode Island PBS and WSBE Learn.

To see auction items, bid (beginning April 1), or get more information about the auction, visit


Preview show schedule

More than two dozen of the 700 Spring Auction items will be featured in a half-hour preview show, airing at various times throughout April on both WSBE channels:

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits over the air on digital 36.1. Find WSBE Rhode Island PBS on subscription television services on: Cox 08 or Cox HD 708, Verizon 08 or Verizon HD 508; Comcast (check local listings for standard definition) or Comcast HD 819; Dish Network 7776; DirecTV 36.

• Mon, 04/05/2010 at 7:00 PM
• Wed, 04/07/2010 at 12:00 PM
• Thu, 04/08/2010 at 5:30 AM
• Fri, 04/09/2010 at 7:00 PM
• Fri, 04/09/2010 at 8:30 PM
• Sat, 04/10/2010 at 1:00 PM
• Sun, 04/11/2010 at 12:00 AM
• Sun, 04/11/2010 at 5:30 AM
• Sun, 04/11/2010 at 3:00 PM
• Mon, 04/12/2010 at 12:00 AM
• Tue, 04/13/2010 at 5:00 AM
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• Fri, 04/23/2010 at 5:30 AM
• Fri, 04/23/2010 at 8:30 PM
• Sat, 04/24/2010 at 5:00 PM
• Sat, 04/24/2010 at 10:30 PM

WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2, and on cable: Cox 808, Verizon 478, Comcast 295.

• Mon, 04/05/2010 at 2:30 AM
• Mon, 04/05/2010 at 8:00 PM
• Wed, 04/07/2010 at 12:00 AM
• Fri, 04/09/2010 at 8:30 PM
• Sat, 04/10/2010 at 4:30 PM
• Sat, 04/10/2010 at 10:30 PM
• Sun, 04/11/2010 at 1:00 AM
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• Mon, 04/12/2010 at 9:30 PM
• Fri, 04/16/2010 at 9:00 PM
• Sat, 04/17/2010 at 11:30 AM
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• Mon, 04/19/2010 at 10:30 PM
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• Wed, 04/21/2010 at 2:30 AM
• Wed, 04/21/2010 at 9:00 PM
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• Fri, 04/23/2010 at 1:00 AM
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• Sat, 04/24/2010 at 1:30 AM
• Sat, 04/24/2010 at 6:00 AM
• Sat, 04/24/2010 at 4:00 PM