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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

A few years ago I was on the set of a New York-based talk show. I was visiting the executive producer, who was a friend of mine. My theory was, I'd drop by his office around lunchtime, he'd then feel obligated to take me to lunch, and then afterwards he'd call me a car for the ride home.

It was, I admit, only one or two levels above outright begging, but from what I understood about daytime talk shows, the budgets were practically limitless. The lowliest assistants swanned around Manhattan in chauffeured sedans. My friend the executive producer, I assumed, was treated like royalty at every swank media lunch spot in town. This, I told myself, was going to be great.

None of that happened. Instead we sat in his tiny office and drank tea and then he looked at his watch and told me to leave.

In many ways, that's the media business today. And also in many ways, that's a good thing. I mean, it's bad for folks like me and my friend, but great for the listeners and viewers – the customers, in other words.

So this is the part where I ask you for money. Because though listening to KCRW broadcasts and podcasts is free, it only seems free. Running a place like this costs money.

Here's a word you hear a lot these days – content. People talk about new media content and web content and old media content, and talk about how important content is, about free content and paid content. They talk about it like it's all one big thing, one big pile of content that you can dribble over here or scatter over there.

But all content isn't the same, is it? I mean, it's like food. There are lots of things in the world that can technically be considered food, but most of them you wouldn't want to put in your mouth.

KCRW is not just content – it's challenging talk and inspiring music and unexpected, surprising stuff all day long. It's one of the important things. So, please, chip in. Listen to KCRW as a subscriber. Trust me: no one around here is buying anyone a fancy lunch.

Call 800-600-KCRW. That's 800-600-5279, or online, anytime, at KCRW.com.

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