KUT, KUTX raise funds in semi-annual membership drive

Anusha Lalani

KUT and KUTX raised more than $625,000 collectively in their semi-annual membership drive, which lasted eight days and ended April 6.

Since the 1980s, KUT 90.5, Austin’s NPR station, and KUTX 98.9, The Austin Music Experience, ask their listeners to invest in their content through a membership drive held once each semester. After they make their one-time donation, members can choose to become sustaining members, a special set of donors that make continuous monthly donations.

Because KUT and KUTX are nonprofits, the stations are able to provide content to their listeners through their donations, said public relations manager Erin Geisler.

Sylvia Ponce Carson, associate general manager of development and marketing at KUT 90.5, said the stations get 80 percent of their revenue from the local community through business sponsorships and individual member donations. 

“We are very proud of the fact that KUT and KUTX have been directly supported by the Austin community for so long ­— and that the amount continues to increase year after year,” Carson said in an email.

Last spring, the membership drive raised $500,000. This past fall, the stations raised $620,000. 

Matt Reilly, program director for KUTX 98.9, said the reason for the continuous support from listeners is because of the quality of the content they provide.

“I think what differentiates KUTX from streaming services is twofold: curation and context,” Reilly said in an email. “The mix of new and classic songs — regardless of genre — presented by passionate hosts has resonated with our listeners as well. It’s a personal touch that an algorithm can’t give you.”

David Munoz, a sustained member, said he has been an active listener for almost 20 years.

“The investment has made me smarter, and more informed,” Munoz said in an email. “I’ve heard and bought music I would not have had an opportunity to hear on commercial radio.” 

UT alumnus James Babyak, who has been a sustaining member for three years, said he donated because he appreciated the stations’ relevant coverage.  

“[I’ve listened] for many years on my commute to work and school and received valuable news pertaining to local elections, UT policy changes and energy issues,” Babyak said in an email. “As a student, I would value the range of perspective from national to local issues. I enjoyed being connected to the pulse of Austin music and local events.”