WATERLOO | Radio station KBBG, 88.1 FM, has been telling the story of black history, and much more, for more than 35 years.
Its programming ranges from personal finance, to community issues, to faith, to a children's reading club. It provides a forum for those with no soapbox. It's been carrying out its mission -- "Communicate To Educate" -- long enough to become an institution in its own right.
And it is an institution worth preserving, said station president Lou Porter.
Toward that end, KBBG will hold its on-air MidWinter Fundraiser Feb. 21-23.
Porter, widow of KBBG founder Jimmie Porter, has a comparatively modest goal for the weekend.
"We'd like $50,000," Porter said. "It may not sound like much, But if you don't have it, it is."
"We've been getting by for so long with so little that it's taught us two things: Yes, it can be done," Porter said. But not without help. "You need to be a part of the doing, because the talking won't cut it."
Funds will support operating expenses and preserve the kind of programming that gives KBBG listeners a hand up, not a hand out, Porter said. Information is power, and KBBG's programming is empowering.
On one recent day, Michelle Temeyer, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach executive director for Black Hawk County, provided tips for everyday living.
"I do this monthly, have for quite a while," Temeyer said. "We try to raise a whole gamut (of topics) -- nutrition, gardening, finances -- any initiative we might be involved in."
The station also brings community leaders to the microphone to answer questions, including Mayor Buck Clark, city of Waterloo director of safety services Dan Trelka and officials with the Waterloo schools. The conversations are open and wide-ranging.
It was a conscious decision to hold the fundraiser during Black History Month. The station also holds a fundraiser in August. KBBG is trying to emphasize year-round contributions, because its operations, like a sense of history and heritage, aren't confined to one month out of the year.
"A conversation about our race challenges has to be ongoing," KBBG station manager and program director Beverly Douglas said. "You can't just (do) one month and it dissipates. Every day we try to keep it out front. You at least have to have the courage to look at history."
"I think the programming that goes across our airwaves is important because it gives you a different view," Porter said. "In addition, our programming says, 'Here's something for your head.' She (Douglas) is very into giving people information that they can use."
Porter is making a special appeal to new retirees, particularly teachers, to support the station not only with dollars but volunteer work.
"There's a lot of people in Waterloo that have given to the station over the years. Still continue to give," Porter said. "They are appreciated. Without them the station would not be."
"But we're not where we need to be so we can take the steps we need take in terms of the station, its future," she added. "We have been in discussion, and will be again, about KBBG's place in making sure that, come hell or high water, people will continue to have a voice."
Pledges and donations may be made by calling 234-1441 or online at www.kbbgfm.org. Donations may be made online through PayPal or sent through regular mail to donation to KBBG-FM, 918 Newell St, Waterloo IA 50703. The station also is looking for volunteers to work during the fundraiser.