As a child in the front of the television, I grew up watching PBS programming on KLRN. My family had cable, but I just preferred the TV selection on PBS. It was oftentimes hilarious and always educational. I would be disappointed when the news or other “grown up stuff” came on — interrupting my cartoons — but I think a tiny bit of my child self knew it was smart and interesting in the eyes of older people.
Although I’ve continued to applaud, support, and admire public-funded broadcasting my entire life, it wasn’t until I joined the Chamber team that I had the opportunity to step into the very same studio I supported in my youth. After one visit for a meeting and another visit for May’s Mayoral debate, my third visit to KLRN was the most fun and most memorable. This is how I found myself working the phone bank of KLRN’s annual Blazing Gavels Auction.
Blazing Gavels is an eight-day televised auction — the largest in San Antonio — and the primary fundraiser for the PBS affiliate. Boasting auction items such as gift baskets and services from local businesses, to ambitious trips and priceless collectible items, there is really something for viewers of every stripe.
The night my colleagues and I arrived to volunteer our time on the phones, we sure did feel the love. Veteran phone bank volunteers in the office lauded our participation in the event as super fun, with some folks staying well into the night in previous years— by choice. But truly, nothing could prepare me for the rush of participating until I actually did it.
Guided by the helpful KLRN staff, the cameras started rolling and calls started flooding in. Longtime auction supporters came ready to play, and I did my best in helping their bids come in fast and often. Volunteers from different origins and workplaces kept the energy in the room lively, as students from the Northeast School of the Arts rattled off lists of auction items for the viewers at home.
I want to make it clear that although the competition for the top bid was fierce, every viewer I spoke to on the phone sounded enthusiastic and all were very patient with me when I had trouble hearing them in the noisy room. I don’t know if I can go as far as to say the virtues of PBS programming inspired their temperament, but let’s not rule it out.
All of this sensory information is a roundabout way of saying volunteering was a blast, and I feel grateful to have done it. I’m grateful for the folks at KLRN for everything they do, every single day. I’m grateful the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce supports KLRN and sends the very best to help with Blazing Gavels. I’m grateful for every viewer who called in and for every volunteer who picked up the phone to receive them. There is no shortage of gratitude in my heart for what I saw that night.
Funds raised for KLRN will allow public broadcasting in San Antonio to continue, ensuring that future generations of children, like me, can have the same educational programming and get a jumpstart on learning. Blazing Gavels is more than just an auction, and anyone involved will tell you the same. My only regret is that I have to wait until next year to do it again.