With 24 hour telethon, The Young Turks inch towards raising $350,000

The opening of the Young Turks 24-hour “Turk-a-thon,” which began live-streaming on YouTube (s GOOG) on Thursday, 6 PM ET/3 PM PT, might have normally started with the sort of fireworks and dramatic music appropriate to a major live event. But instead, things began with its host, a solemn, angry Cenk Uygur, admitting that they’d maybe wanted to open things with a little more bombast, then eulogizing legendary humanitarian Nelson Mandela, whose death had been announced less than two hours prior.

Uygur worked off rough notes to express his love and admiration for Mandela’s legacy, and the opening 10 minutes were a tone-perfect encapsulation of the topical, informal yet informed style that has made The Young Turks one of YouTube’s most popular news brands.

This comes on the eve of the show’s return to a purely independent state, courtesy of a crowdfunding campaign launched in October. Turning to Indiegogo, the show asked fans for the cash to build a new studio for the flagship Uygur-hosted series and other TYT Network shows; the “Turk-a-thon” was timed to correspond with the end of the campaign.

It’s an important milestone for TYT, due to its past relationship with Current, which two years ago brought Uygur and his team to the cable channel for an hour-long live news program.

While airing on Current, however, TYT maintained ownership over its brand and continued to produce YouTube-original videos.

Thus when Al Jazeera acquired Current earlier this year, the show was able to continue posting daily to its official YouTube channel as an independent entity — though its new status required a change of location. From the Indiegogo campaign page:

We recently moved out of [the] Current TV studios where we have called home the last two years… We want to build a quality TV ready studio that will stand up to all the other mainstream networks out there. A space that TYT can proudly call home, from where we will continue to deliver the truth the way we’ve always done it – independent and unfiltered… We are starting from scratch and we would like to invite you to build it with us.

Before the marathon began, the campaign had surpassed its original goal of $250,000, and was aiming to reach a stretch goal of $350,000, which would allow them to afford a second studio for additional shows and flexibility. As of writing, with 14 hours left to go, the campaign was at $347,000.

The 24-hour marathon, hosted from the new (currently unadorned) studio, will include appearances by other TYT network talent and, according to the official announcement, fan interaction, “trips down memory lane” and drinking. Things will wrap up Friday afternoon — tune in then to see some very tired hosts.