THOUSAND OAKS — As the spring pledge drive continues this week, things at KCLU-FM (88.3) are in a state of controlled chaos.
Empty pizza boxes are piled several feet high near the front door. Doughnuts, muffins, a giant bucket of red licorice and other junk food are scattered around the Thousand Oaks station. The refrigerator is full of soda, mostly caffeinated, and the coffee maker is on auto-pilot to help keep volunteers alert as they read from scripts and take down information during pledge periods, from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Over a bank of telephones is a large sign reminding volunteers to say thank you to donors.
Mary Olson, KCLU's general manager, said that, despite the hectic schedule, fund drives are actually her favorite time of the year.
"The energy for me comes from the fact that this is feedback," Olson said.
The station raised nearly $15,000 this past weekend, more than twice what was raised during the opening weekend of a successful fall fund drive. Six months ago, the station raised nearly $73,000, about $8,000 more than its goal. The current goal is to raise $75,000 by Saturday.
Olson said her favorite day during pledge week is Friday, when the pace of calls rises to a frenzy because of faithful, albeit procrastinating, last-minute donors.
"Only my mother makes you crazier," she said.
Most of the time, volunteers chat idly as jazz or talk radio permeates the relaxed background. Then suddenly, several times an hour, telephones ring off the hook and volunteers rush to answer the calls.
Volunteer and radio personality Sid Kaminsky also relishes the fund drives because, as a jazz aficionado, anything he can do to help preserve what he considers to be America's only true art form, he's happy to do.
"I browbeat people into supporting jazz," Kaminsky said. "I know people love jazz, but you can't always get people to part with their money."