When news of November’s Tea Fire reached KCSB 91.9’s newsroom, the local radio station abandoned its annual fundraiser and instead devoted the airtime to covering the devastating blaze.

Now, three months later, KCSB is back on the airways asking listeners to open their wallets and support the university’s sole radio station. The fund drive – an annual fundraiser that began in the late 1980s – raises money for the commercial-free, volunteer-run radio station. Although the drive was delayed in wake of the wildly destructive Tea Fire, it will resume today and continue through Feb. 9. A quarter of the proceeds will be donated to Carla and Lance Hoffman – both of whom were severely injured in the Tea Fire.

With the knowledge that the fire was destroying hundreds of homes in its first night, the decision to postpone the drive came almost immediately according to KCSB Development Coordinator Ted Coe.

“We were into our second day of the drive and around five o’clock we get a phone call that the next programmer can’t come in because the fire was threatening his house,” Coe said. “For us, coverage of the Tea Fire was more of a priority than raising funds.”

With the fire months behind them, Erin Fleming, a fourth-year Latin American and Iberian studies major and KCSB’s General Manager, said the station is restarting it efforts by reminding listeners that the funds are essential in maintaining the station.

“With the proceeds we will be able to maintain our ability to train hundreds of students and community members in radio,” she said. “It will allow us to keep operating, co-sponsor community events and help develop the new A.S. Media Center.”

Fleming said she hopes that the station will raise between $25,000 and $30,000 in donations this drive, a quarter of which would go to charity.

“I was really inspired by the student’s decision to donate to the Hoffman’s,” Coe said. “The fire made us realize that this is one way we’re really important to the community. If we had just quit and went home that could have had tragic results for some.”

Although the annual drive’s profits have gradually declined with the recession, Coe said he sees alternative radio as a vital service to the community.

“We hope with the new administration that people feel more generous and want to support independent media,” he said. “We did a lot of coverage on the election and people tuned in to another viewpoint they couldn’t hear anywhere else.”

As part of the funding efforts, students and community members will be giving testimonials on the air about their experiences with KCSB throughout the week.

Promotions Director Alex Smith, a second-year psychology and sociolinguistics major, said he enjoys the opportunity to talk to listeners over the air.

“My favorite part about the drive is the fun in fundraising,” Smith said. “I really like talking to the people who call in. People speak to you like they’ve been calling in for years and probably have. It’s a time where they belong and I belong and it’s great.”

Supporters wanting to pledge can go on to the KCSB Web site www.kcsb.org or call the radio station at (805) 893-2424. KCSB hoodies, T-shirts and coffee mugs as well as CDs and gift certificates from local business will be given out to donors.