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Lester and Renee Crown at Brookfield Zoo’s “Whirl on the Shimmering Seas” on April 16, 2011. Photo by Robert Carl.

The British are coming! But don’t prepare for battle: the annual fund-raiser of WTTW-Channel 11 and WFMT-FM (98.7), this year with a UK-inspired theme, will be a celebration of programming and music from across the pond.

SHARE The British are coming! But don’t prepare for battle: the annual fund-raiser of WTTW-Channel 11 and WFMT-FM (98.7), this year with a UK-inspired theme, will be a celebration of programming and music from across the pond.
SHARE The British are coming! But don’t prepare for battle: the annual fund-raiser of WTTW-Channel 11 and WFMT-FM (98.7), this year with a UK-inspired theme, will be a celebration of programming and music from across the pond.

The British are coming! But don’t prepare for battle: the annual fund-raiser of WTTW-Channel 11 and WFMT-FM (98.7), this year with a UK-inspired theme, will be a celebration of programming and music from across the pond.

With Oscar-, Tony-, Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning actor Jeremy Irons serving as master of ceremonies, guests will enjoy performances at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance followed by a gala dinner. Vice chair of WTTW/WFMT, civic leader and gala chair Renee Crown and vice chair of BMO Harris Bank and trustee of WTTW/WFMT Peter McNitt tell Cause & Event about the benefit performance and why they support this legendary Chicago media company.

Q: Why did you get involved with WTTW/WFMT? Â

RC: We are the eyes and ears of Chicago in the most impartial ways – essentially, we are Chicago’s front porch. The programs we offer explore the terrific cultural assets of the city and provide unbiased analysis of issues that are relevant to the everyday lives of our viewers. I’m also very proud of WTTW’s children’s programs; we are the most-watched station, broadcast or cable, in the Chicago area ages 2 to 11. And we always strive for excellence.

ÂPM: I’m a native of Chicago and always watched WTTW growing up. WTTW and WFMT do things that uniquely inform us, educate us and help us to celebrate the rich history and diverse cultures of this city.

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Q: Have you ever manned the phones during the famous WTTW pledge drives?

PM: I have, Alisa. Not only have I manned the phones, but I’ve been interviewed, conducting one of the pledge drives. I was proud to do that!

RC: I have not manned the phones yet during a pledge drive, but I have made many calls to raise funds and cultivate friendships for WTTW and WFMT.

Q: “The British Are Coming” is such a fun theme. Where did it come from?

RC: As you know, this year marks the queen’s 60th anniversary – her Diamond Jubilee – and the Olympics are being held in London this summer, so we thought it was appropriate to celebrate the British as the theme of our event. We’ve had so many great British programs on our air: “Upstairs Downstairs,” “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” “Masterpiece Theatre” and, of course, “Downton Abbey.” Also, there are many wonderful British composers whose works have been broadcast on WFMT’s airwaves since the station signed on in 1951.

PM: If you look at the profound influence of British art on the programs, it’s been a centerpiece of WTTW’s experience for almost 60 years. It’s all part of the fabric of both WTTW and WFMT – and it’s an ideal time to celebrate a British theme.

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Q: What can attendees look forward to at the event?

PM: I’m not going to give away too many secrets. … We’ll have some special guests and a unique and engaging performance at the Harris Theater and at the dinner afterward. The stage show will celebrate British programming and will be open to the public as well, not just to donors attending the gala dinner. There will be instrumental music, singing, acting – all in a British theme. And of course, we will toast our event chairs, Renee and Lester Crown, and our tireless board chairman Norm Bobins, who has done a phenomenal job.

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The Sun-Times is a media sponsor of the event.

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