Byron Valentine, KVLU manager, checking equipment from the flood to see if it can be used once again after Hurricane Harvey flooded the facility.

Byron Valentine, KVLU manager, checking equipment from the flood to see if it can be used once again after Hurricane Harvey flooded the facility.

KVLU 91.3, Lamar University’s Public Radio station, kicked off its fall membership pledge drive, “A Jewel of Southeast Texas,” Tuesday. The fundraiser is held twice a year to raise operating funds.

“This is where we come to the public and ask them to support their public radio station,” Shannon Harris, development director, said. “We have a variety of sources of support that include grants and underwritings for our programs, as well as support from our university and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Our membership is our largest source of support.”

The fundraiser will end Nov. 17, with a membership prize drawing for a .33-karat diamond.

“We’re really excited because we have a campaign giveaway, and this campaign is sponsored by Cantu Fine Jeweler,” Harris said. “Anyone that pledges their support for the campaign will be automatically entered into that giveaway, and we draw for that on the very last day of the campaign.”

KVLU membership levels start at $60.

There are also individuals or company supporters who match money pledged during the campaign.

“They will take a certain time slot of our campaign and they’ll be our challengers,” Harris said. “They agree to match whatever pledges are raised during that time slot. So, it’s just an incentive for people to give, because when they give, their gift is going to be matched.”

Harris said that this pledge drive is particularly important.

Graydon Glover, SurfPro worker, Bridge City, Tx, throwing away debris from KVLU transmitter office that was flooded when Hurricane Harvey hit.

Graydon Glover, SurfPro worker, Bridge City, Tx, throwing away debris from KVLU transmitter office that was flooded when Hurricane Harvey hit.

“We really need those membership dollars to ensure that the programming continues and that it’s not interrupted or changed in any way,” she said. “Now, more than ever, we’re using our resources towards getting our transmitter site back up and running at full power.”

In August, when Hurricane Harvey hit Southeast Texas, KVLU’s transmitter was destroyed by floodwater at their Vidor facility.

“We assume that there was seven feet of flooding in here due to the fact that the insulation stops at about the 7-foot mark,” Byron Balentine, station manager, said.

The station was forced to transmit online for several weeks.

“We went back on the air on Oct. 4,” he said. “We’re running about 1200 watts but we have found that we have a good listenable signal all the way to Spurger in one direction and to Vinton in the east.”

Balentine said a new transmitter is currently being constructed while the station runs on the smaller, temporary transmitter.

“In the meantime, we’ve been raising money and coming up with a list of things we’re going to need,” he said. “We have some backup equipment we don’t keep here, and we’ve ordered some new equipment that’s more powerful but can also back us up until the new system can be assembled and put in. It doesn’t just go in like a toaster, it takes some skill.”

The new transmitter is expected to be complete and delivered, Nov. 27.

“The university has been very supportive throughout all of this, especially the dean and a lot of people,” Balentine said. “We’ve had many well-wishers among our membership.”

The membership campaign is what really funds KVLU’s programming, Harris said.

“It’s really crucial for us,” she said. “Every campaign is important to us because it’s such a sizable part of our budget.”

The station is in its 43rd year of operation. They have approximately 20 volunteers each campaign, including on-air guests and phone volunteers.

To volunteer, or to pledge, visit KVLU.org, or call 838-7000.

Story by Karisa Norfleet, UP staff writer

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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