Listeners foot the bill for KSYM pledge drive

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KSYM holds its annual pledge drive to help pay the bills.

By Jerico Magallanes

For 50 years, this college’s radio station KSYM has filled the airwaves with a variety of programming and entertainment. Now, the station is asking their listeners for much needed cash.

“There’s a lot of bills and a lot of costs that go into running a station,” said James “Hot Mustard” Velten, program coordinator for KSYM and host of “Blues in the Morning with Hot Mustard,” KSYM’s morning show.

Since 1994, the station has had an annual on-air pledge drive. At least $900,000 of their total revenue of $1.2 million was raised from pledge drives.

The funds have been used to keep up with innovations in equipment, broadcasting and web streaming and music licensing.

Students get the opportunity to DJ and gain broadcasting experience through the radio experience course.

“Students have a one-hour air shift per week between the hours of 9 a.m.–3 p.m.,” Velten said.

Members from the community are also welcome to volunteer at the station. On air DJs are made up of both students and community volunteers.

The station’s annual goal is $50,OOO. Last year’s outcome was a little more than $40,000.

John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation donated $25,OOO in grants during last year’s pledge drive, Velten said.

“This year is our 50th Anniversary. We’re trying to get all the alumni to come in, old KSYM DJs,” Velten said. “We’ve had a good response so far.”

With names like Sonny Melendrez, motivational speaker and radio personality; Joey Palacios, news reporter of Texas Public Radio; and Bobby Reyes, San Antonio radio and KEXL veteran, listeners have plenty of talent to tune into during the pledge drive.

During the drive, DJs who usually host solo will also get the chance to interact with other DJs live on the air.

“In 51 weeks out of the year, it is usually one DJ, one mic on, solo shows,” Velten said. “During the pledge drive, listeners will enjoy it because different on-air DJs come together and they get to imagine ‘Oh what would it be like if this DJ had a conversation with this DJ? What would they talk about?’ and then it actually happens during the week of the pledge drive.”

The DJs enjoy this benefit just as much as the listeners, finally getting the chance to talk to someone else, he said.

When listeners pledge, they receive a variety of gift certificates from businesses that have donated to the station.

Asian fusion restaurant Hot Joy, music venue Paper Tiger, Liberty Bar restaurant, retro videogame store Propaganda Palace and breakfast favorite Magnolia Pancake Haus are just some of the businesses that have contributed gift certificates.

“What I like about radio is that it’s a theatre of the mind, a picture with just sound,” Velten said. “You get to create a mental picture in people’s minds.”

The drive will be March 28-April 3. Listeners can either donate online at or call 210-486-5796.

KSYM will be hosting its 50th anniversary April 30 at Charline McCombs Empire Theater. The announced acts are Mitch Webb and the Swindles, Los #3 Dinners and Extreme Heat.

For more information, call 210-486-1371.


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