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FROM THIS EPISODE

Here's what just happened:

I'm in a hip coffee shop in Venice, It's early afternoon, and I order a double espresso. I hand over the money and get my change, which is a few bills and a handful of coins. The coins I keep: the parking meter enforcement cops in Venice circle the blocks with unwearied commitment. But the bills, well, I'd ideally like to keep them all, but there's a tip jar on the counter beside the register, with one of those cheerlessly cheerful signs – “Hey! This is a Tip Jar! There's a recession on!” with a happy face below it. So I slide a $1 bill into the jar, take my espresso, sit down, and I wonder if my extravagant tip – it's the only bill in the jar – will mean that when I step up in a few minutes for a refill or a cookie I'll get a smile from the unsmiling girl behind the counter.

So, look, I know everyone seems to have a tip jar out these days. And I know that it's hard to imagine that something you get for free – even something as excellent and interesting and unpredictable as KCRW – is something to kick in for.

The trouble is, KCRW isn't free. The people who run the station and keep the sound boards going and book the bands and make the web site hum with great music and arresting conversation – all of it costs money. And not tip jar money, but real money.

KCRW delivers the very best in music and talk – cutting edge sounds, bands on the brink of stardom, books, art, politics with a refreshing and unexpected twist, and we do it all every day over the air and on the web, twenty-four hours of non-stop engaging programming, and then we ask you for money. Talk about a rotten business model. For a movie, even a really lousy one, they make you pay up front.

So this is the moment where we've handed over the coffee and we're politely asking you to put something in the jar. For the music. For the conversation. For the community. For the people who work here day and night putting on the best show on the air, on the web, on your iPhone, anywhere.

So call, 1-800-600-5279.

Or online, anytime, at KCRW.com.

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