Eighty-two-year-old Freddie Jackson gave up retirement to host a jazz radio show. But today he has traded in his microphone and headset to raise funds for KUNV 91.5, a station he’s called home for 15 years.
KUNV 91.5 is a public radio station housed inside Greenspun Hall that relies on community donations to operate. Every year they hold a week-long pledge drive, asking for listener support to keep them broadcasting for another year. Their goal for this year is to collect $60,000 in pledges.
In a 15-minute lull between calls, Jackson sits back in his chair to munch on some pretzels and trade jokes with his college-aged coworkers. He chuckles heartily, his voice booming like James Earl Jones’.
“[Jackson] is the master pledge,” says one of the DJs. “He really is. The phone rings and no one else can pick up the phone.”
With only three days left of the pledge drive, KUNV has only reached a third of their $60,000 goal.
“I can’t put into words how important this [pledge drive] is,” Jackson says. “It helps the station to buy equipment that’s needed.”
Jackson hosts KUNV’s “Blues and Ballads.” Miles Low, a DJ and freshman communications major, sits close to Jackson, planning for “Miles Low Midweek Show” to air on the station’s student programming counterpart, KUNV-HD2.
“I want to see [KUNV] grow,” Low says. “If I can help, spend an hour or two here instead of going and playing basketball … sure, I’ll help.”
Low attributes KUNV’s struggle to get more student volunteers to the “generation gap.” The station is primarily suited for older audiences with jazz programs dominating most of the radio grid.
“Make it appeal to more than just one group of people,” Low says. “Everybody wants to help something they like. If you like something, you don’t want to see it die or go away.”
Low hopes to see KUNV expand so that it can accommodate more pledge drive volunteers and achieve record-breaking donations.
“Everybody wants to be a part of breaking a record,” he says. “Everybody wants to be a part of history.”
The phone rings for a fraction of a second before Jackson answers with a deep, resounding “Hello.”
He receives a pledge and looks around the room, beaming at fellow volunteers.
“That was interesting,” Jackson says. “That call was from San Francisco Bay.”
So far, 102 individuals have volunteered their time to the drive. Callers donate about $52 on average, according to Jackson.
KUNV’s pledge drive will conclude on April 21. For those interested in donating, call 702-895-1234. Volunteers may sign up at KUNV’s break room located in Greenspun Hall.