James “Hot Mustard” Velten teaches students radio excellence.
By Richard Hernandez
“The Sauce with Hot Mustard” has been a KSYM 90.1 FM morning staple since May 11, 2009.
James “Hot Mustard” Velten, a student in the RTVB program at the time, brought the idea of a morning show up as a big picture project for his RTVB 1150, Radio Experience, class.
Nine years later, Velten has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Texas A&M University-San Antonio, and an associate degree in radio-television-broadcasting from this college.
And “The Sauce” is still going strong.
Velten was hired by the college in January 2016 to become program coordinator for the station. Since then he has added coordinating fundraisers, supporting local artists and teaching students to his workload.
“I hate talking about myself,” Velten said in an interview on Nov. 16. “My biggest accomplishment, I would have to say, has been the morning show.
“It’s taken a lot of work to get it to where it is now. When it first started, it was a horrible show, but we’ve straightened it out.”
“The Sauce” comes on every weekday from 7-9 a.m. and is filled with talk radio, Velten’s own playlist of rock and blues, and campus announcements.
Not only does Velten do his morning show, but every Tuesday from 8:30- 9 a.m. Velten and co-host Alejandro Diaz host “Speaking of SAC” with college President Robert Vela.
“I’ve had the help of so many great co-hosts over the years,” Velten said. “I’ve seen so many of them go off and do great things, and I know that I learned from them, even though they had the hard task of putting up with me early in the morning.”
Former KSYM DJ’s include Joey Palacios, who served as former program director and now works for Texas Public Radio, and Robert “Cold Turkey” Purkey who has worked for radio station 106.3 in West Virginia since leaving the college.
Velten said that the transition to program coordinator hasn’t always been easy but rather a growing opportunity.
“I’m still growing in this position,” Velten said. “I’m always looking ahead. Right now, we’re hoping to steer the focus of the station (toward) local artists.”
Velten started his journey to becoming the radio personality Hot Mustard as a student in the RTVB program.
Velten said during his time in the program he learned the ins and outs of producing a radio show.
“I wouldn’t be able to do my job if it weren’t for this program,” Velten said. “Every aspect of my job I learned about here. It’s a great atmosphere working alongside students now. The fun part is inspiring students to think outside of the box.”
Velten says that he enjoys working with students.
“It’s a lot of fun being on the other side and seeing where the students are,” Velten said. “I get to step back and teach the students how to do it. Motivating and encouraging students, it’s all different, but it’s fun.”
As program coordinator his biggest challenge so far has been his self-doubt.
“Don’t doubt yourself,” he said. “You just have to put the work in. Don’t let others tell you can’t do something. There are situations where people tell you that you can’t do something, but you can.”
Velten believes patience is the key to success. He said that he discusses the important of patience with students working on the station and encourages them to search for different perspectives. By doing so, he said he hopes he’s leading students in the right direction.
When “The Sauce” started, Velten was working overnight shifts at a gas station, getting off at 6 a.m. and then coming straight into the station to host the show. Now he spends most of his time in the KSYM studio in the Longwith Radio, Television and Film Building.
“It’s all about letting it show in your work,” Velten said. “People might write you off in the beginning, but do really good work and let it marinate.
“Take pride in what you do and just put out good work. You’ll make mistakes, but learn from them and grow.”
Recorded segments of “Speaking of SAC” are available online at https://www.mixcloud.com/discover/ksym/.