On-campus radio station KCSB-FM 91.9 hopes to gain community support for its commercial-free music, talk show and news programming with a pledge-drive campaign kick-off concert tonight in downtown Santa Barbara.

Musical groups Les Shelleys, Epsilon Project and Funk Union Local 805 will play at the Contemporary Arts Forum in the Paseo Nuevo shopping center from 7 to 11 p.m. for KCSB’s kick-off pledge-drive party. The free event also features the hip hop-influenced film “Stereomongrel.” KCSB programmers tabling at the event will be accepting donations from attendees and passersby.

KCSB Advisor Elizabeth Robinson said the party is the radio station’s first kick-off concert event in over 20 years.

The station’s annual pledge-drive usually brings in somewhere between $34,000 to $37,000 each year, and the money raised will be spent on new equipment and station maintenance, KCSB Development Coordinator Ted Coe said. KCSB is also financed through a lock-in fee of $1.20 per student per quarter.

Coe said the student-run radio station broadcasts from Santa Barbara County to Thousand Oaks. Nearly 100 programmers work at the station, which plays everything from indie music to jazz to local news coverage.

For its news, KCSB Associate News Director and fourth-year global studies major Heather Buchheim said the independent station offers coverage not typically heard on most commercial stations.

“We’re showing the story that doesn’t get out in corporate radio,” Buchheim said.

Buchheim said the KCSB news programming challenges today’s predominate corporate broadcasters by sharing a variety of viewpoints, as opposed to just one ideology. Robinson said KCSB is also more concerned with the quality of news programming than corporately owned stations.

“I think independent media [is] important especially now because of control of [most] media by a few corporations that run them like businesses instead of for entertainment and information,” Robinson said.

Because KCSB is not corporately owned and does not play commercials, most of its funding must come directly from the pledge drive, said third-year sociology major Andrew Huang, program director for KJUC – KCSB’s AM sister station. Besides relying on alternative funding strategies, Huang said KCSB programmers and employees have created a friendlier atmosphere than most other radio stations.

“I think it’s a really family-like environment and it’s a safe space,” Huang said. “We’re open to speak our minds and we respect each other’s opinions.”

Robinson said she has been with the station for 16 years and still loves to watch new programmers gain experience.

“People come in timid, but after two or three times on the air, they get comfortable and start blossoming,” Robinson said.

The pledge drive runs 24 hours a day from Nov. 7 to 16. Those who wish to make a donation can call the station at (805) 893-2424 or can stop by tonight’s pledge-drive event. Huang said donors can win prizes such as gift certificates, books, CDs, event tickets, T-shirts and videos.