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Volunteers are integral to helping us deliver our public service

KUT and KUTX volunteer Sonya Hernandez volunteers at a KUTX Rock the Park event
KUT and KUTX volunteer Sonya Hernandez volunteers at a KUTX Rock the Park event

National Volunteer Week is April 16

National Volunteer Week is April 16, so we’re shining a spotlight on a special group of people this month – because volunteers help change the world.

Despite being affiliated with the University of Texas, KUT and KUTX is a community-supported organization with a small staff. We rely on volunteers to help us engage with the community and promote our work. Without this special group of people, we’d have a hard time producing our community events, thanking donors during our membership drives and hosting tours and groups in our studios.

In fact, volunteers donate roughly 600 hours of their time a year during membership drives; at station events, such as Rock the Park, KUTX Live and the Holiday Sing-Along; leading station tours, hanging banners at convert venues and more.

“While members allow us to function as a mission-driven service, we’re still a non-profit, which means we don’t always have the resources to match that vision, said KUTX Assistant Program Director Jacquie Fuller, who manages KUTX volunteers. “That’s where our volunteers come in. They help us broaden our reach in a way that we simply couldn’t achieve on our own.”

While volunteers make an important impact on our work, research shows that volunteering has a positive impact on individuals, helping them make friends and feel happier and healthier.

Sustaining member Sonya Hernandez is a longtime KUT and KUTX listener who finds that by volunteering with KUTX, she’s dialed into what’s going on in the music community while meeting people she might not come across in her daily life.

“I’m a big music lover – it’s an important part of my life outside of working hours,” says Hernandez who volunteers with three other music organizations around town. “When I was looking for ways to support the local music community, I saw that KUTX was helping new artists get their music out there and I wanted to be a part of that. In addition to supporting the station and artists, it’s been a great way to meet people who share my values.”

Hernandez has volunteered for several KUTX Live showcases during SXSW and Austin City Limits, as well as the Rock the Park series at Mueller Lake Park. You’ll often see her greeting guests and manning the KUTX membership table where she chats about the station and encourages people to sign up for a newsletter.

“I’ve done everything from putting temporary tattoos on kids at Rock the Park, to helping set up or tear down the tent and information table,” she says.

She’s also volunteered to write thank-you cards to donors during the membership drive. “After I became a sustaining member, I received a thank you voicemail from a volunteer and it really brightened my day. I decided I wanted to do that for someone else.”

Shortly after becoming a sustaining member, Tyler Griffith signed up for the KUTX Street Team to get out in the community and meet more people. Then COVID hit and Griffith’s volunteer plans were put on the back burner.

“When things started opening up again, I saw volunteering with KUTX as a way to ‘reintroduce myself to the world,’ so to speak.”

Last year, in addition to volunteering at KUTX Live in Studio 1A and Rock the Park, he hung KUTX banners at Levitation Fest at the Mohawk. The volunteer gig included a pair of tickets for the show. “A highlight for me was getting to enjoy alt-rock band Acid Dad and A Giant Dog.”

Griffith also sees volunteering as an opportunity to connect with new Austinites and show them what makes this town great. “Austin’s changing, so it’s important for those of use who’ve been around awhile to show newcomers what makes Austin so great – kindness.”

Volunteer Angelika Gritzka agrees. “KUTX feels like a gift to the community, so I tell new Austinites how important it is to support the stations. Volunteering gives me a chance to give back, giving me a small sense of ownership of the station.”

“Both stations fulfill my needs throughout the day,” she says. “During the day, KUT and ‘Texas Standard’ help me feel informed about what’s going on in Austin and in Texas; I know I can trust what I hear. Toward the evening, I’ll switch to KUTX, where I know I’m hearing something local or something new.”

Molly Schnitzius – a die-hard rock ‘n’ roll fan – first heard KUTX when she was working at a warehouse. “They only played KUTX, which opened the door to all kinds of new music,” she said.

She attended a KUTX concert last year and saw the volunteers wearing their volunteer T-shirts and knew she wanted to get involved with the station.

“I started volunteering at Rock the Park, then decided to earn my TABC certification so I could help serve beer there. I’ve volunteered at the John Aielli memorial and given a station tours. This year, I worked all four early morning volunteer shifts at KUTX Live at Scholz Garten,” she continued.

“I love the music and enjoy the vibe, but most importantly, I’ve made friends with other volunteers and other listeners,” she concluded.

“I never thought I’d become the volunteer coordinator one day,” said Senior Development Specialist Rachel Bentley, who manages KUT volunteers. “I started as a KUT volunteer in 2010 and through the years, I’ve seen – from both sides – how hard our volunteers work to make our listeners, members and the community feel welcomed and appreciated.”

Interested in volunteering for KUT and KUTX? Learn more or email us.