KCSB started its annual on-air pledge drive yesterday as part of its 40th anniversary celebration of non-profit public radio broadcasting.

Through November 9, KCSB is presenting a series of special guests, in-studio concerts, giveaways and archival UCSB broadcasts. Last year’s drive pulled in $21,000, but the station has higher expectations for this year.

“We hope to exceed $25,000 – that would be great,” Associate Director for Media Services Elizabeth Robinson said. “Our [broadcast] tower is corroding and to repair it, that’s a huge expense.”

91.9 KCSB also faces a cost of over $100,000 for a conversion to a new digital signal, which will be required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the near future, in addition to expenses from maintaining functional equipment.

The annual pledge drive funds all repairs, needed updates and major additions that the station might need, since the base student lock-in fee only funds the primary operating costs for KCSB, Drive Coordinator Ted Coe said.

Although pledges of any size are accepted, donations of $25 from students and $40 from non-students constitute station membership. Donations also allow eligibility for “premiums” such as music, books, and dinner-for-two passes. There is no minimum donation and all pledges, regardless of size, go directly to KCSB.

KCSB is the only non-commercial public station in Santa Barbara County, and its broadcasts reach from the station’s tower on Broadcast Peak in the Santa Ynez Mountains to the edges of San Luis Obispo to the north and Malibu to the south. The station is primarily volunteer-operated and gives free training and airtime to both UCSB students and other area residents.

Aside from the usual eclectic music and public affairs shows on the air, in the coming months KCSB will be playing recordings from previous years every Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. to celebrate the station’s 40-year history.

The recordings were first broadcast during historical events such as the I.V. Bank of America burning in 1970, the Black Studies Sit-In Protest in 1968 and a speech by Robert F. Kennedy at UCSB just days before his assassination in Los Angeles.

KCSB, the first radio station in the University of California system, was temporarily shut down after being accused of getting students inflamed to instigate the 1970 bank burning.

“We provide alternative coverage,” Robinson said. “And we’re the only licensed radio station to ever be shut down by the authorities.”

“We’re the first UC radio station to be officially licensed, even before Berkley. The FCC thought it would be less threatening here than the activist setting up north,” Coe said. “We were their experiment.”

KCSB originated in 1961, but its beginnings were not rooted in a commitment to having the varied music programs for listeners on the Central Coast.

“The station didn’t start on any given day 40 years ago … it was mostly engineering majors interested in radio waves [rather] than music,” Coe said.

KCSB now plays blues, lounge, electronica, folk, country, hip hop, jazz, gospel, surf, garage, punk, goth, progressive, psychedelic, indie rock, funk, soul, reggae, Latin, world and experimental music.

“I think people are appreciating what we are providing – the news and the public affairs content and the biggest variety of music possible,” Coe said.