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Davis, California

Friday, March 1, 2024

Fundraiser keeps KDVS afloat in the sea of sound

KDVS 90.3 FM completed its annual fundraising event on Sunday, raising $44,669 to sustain a tradition of alternative broadcasting for radio and online listeners.

The station held its annual fundraiser from April 23 to 29, hoping to meet an ambitious $64,000 goal.

KDVS increased this targeted amount from $60,000 last year to $64,000 in preparation for its 50th anniversary in 2014, according to Neil Ruud, KDVS general manager and senior political science major.

“KDVS was formed by students in 1964, so that’s where the ‘64,000’ comes from,” he said. “In two years we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary and we’re trying to ramp up the programming.”

Donations received during the fundraiser week have exceeded $60,000 before, but pledges collected this year fell short of the targeted amount, reflecting similar shortcomings in recent years.

Though the official fundraiser ended last Sunday, KDVS urges listeners and supporters to contribute much-needed donations throughout the entire year.

At $140,000, the operating budget for KDVS is the lowest among UC-sponsored college stations. ASUCD contributes approximately $40,000, a steadily decreasing number as a result of university budget cuts.

Proceeds from the fundraiser comprise a significant portion of the budget and remain a critical financial resource, since KDVS cannot receive advertising revenue like commercial stations.

“The fundraiser enables us to exist as an independent, non-commercial operation,” Ruud said.

The pledge money goes towards supporting 24/7 broadcasting, maintaining a broadcast range spanning the Sacramento Valley and promoting the station’s nonprofit record label.

“We can run without the money, but we can’t provide the great programming that KDVS is known for if we can’t get support,” said Max Sowell, KDVS production manager and sophomore linguistics and philosophy double major. “Money helps lubricate the station.”

During the week of the fundraiser, DJs dedicate their airtime to garner support from listeners. To maximize enthusiasm, many hosts resort to outlandish stunts like dyeing hair or eating something out of the ordinary.

This year, KDVS earned more than half of the total donations within the last few days of the fundraiser.

“We expect to get the most out of the weekend shows because they’ve been around for five to 10 years and they have a built-in fan base,” said Ed Martin, community member and host of “Cactus Corners.”

Those who pledged received a gift or premium depending on the amount they donated. Premiums are provided by volunteers and include music compilations, KDVS merchandise, DJ services and various handicrafts.

“We have a lot of hand-knit scarves, but the weirdest premium I’ve seen this year is this mask from Ophelia Necro, one of our late-night DJs,” said Sowell, brandishing a papier-mâché skull decorated with golden butterflies.

Every year, volunteers choose a theme for the annual fundraiser. This year’s campaign portrays KDVS as “your beacon in a sea of sound.”

“KDVS really is a beacon of free speech and community involvement, especially as stations are being swallowed up by monopolies in the broadcast industry,” Ruud said.

The station’s commitment to freeform programming means that students and community members can host their own radio shows.

“KDVS is a fantastic educational resource no matter what your major is,” said Renner Burkle, a junior biochemical engineering major and next year’s general manager. “Every single student has something to learn here.”

JUSTIN ABRAHAM can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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