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The sentence below is from an article in the Boston Globe, which talks about a senior-year student's experience as an intern working at the WEEI radio station (WEEI is the name of the station):

She blogged, called businesses to solicit merchandise for WEEI's Web site, produced ad displays, and sent newsletter e-mail blasts.

Help me understand the part of the sentence in bold. What exactly is she doing? For example, if Joe Smith is a business owner, what does she want him to do?

  • call is AmE for "make a telephone call" -- the person made telephone calls to various companies ... – Kris Jun 17 '17 at 10:50
  • She's asking for things. The sentence isn't talking about getting her boss to do anything. – Lawrence Jun 17 '17 at 11:08
  • @Lawrence Yes, I understand part. I meant that Joe Smith was the owner of one of the businesses she was calling, not her boss. What possible things can she ask for a website? – Siegfried Zaytsev Jun 17 '17 at 19:06
  • If it said, "to solicit donations for charity" or "to solicit new business for the company", I would understand. But "solicit merchandise for the website" doesn't make much sense to me. – Siegfried Zaytsev Jun 17 '17 at 19:10
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The phrase you are asking about is:

called businesses to solicit merchandise for WEEI's Web site

Radio stations often run 'contests', with the winner getting a prize.

Here's one from WEEI's website:

Free Ticket Thursday Listen every Thursday at 8:30am, 12:30pm and 5:30pm for chances to score tickets plus qualify to win a $50 giftcard to the Red Sox Teamstore. Presented by Town Fair Tire and also brought to you by McDonalds, AFC Urgent Care, Red Sox Teamstore and by Jimmy John's.

In order to have prizes to give away, radio stations need to either purchase said prizes, generate them in-house, or get others to donate the prizes to the station.

The natural reading of the phrase you asked about is that she made phone calls to businesses to ask for donations in kind that they can then offer on WEEI's website.

solicit verb Ask for or try to obtain (something) from someone. - ODO

  • 1
    Thank you. I do not listen to the radio (if I can help it), so the idea about the prizes and where the prizes come from just didn't cross my mind. – Siegfried Zaytsev Jun 18 '17 at 6:23

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