After large fraudulent donation, Sun Radio aims to recoup funds through a ‘Radiothon’

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sun Radio, a popular radio network with stations around Central Texas, held a fundraiser Thursday through Saturday to recoup financials after a sizable fraudulent donation in late 2022 and equipment damages from the 2023 ice storm. 

Solar Radio started over ten years ago and focuses on showcasing Texas musical talents. The network is solar-powered, and its mission is to “preserve the culture of Texas music with minimal impact on the environment,” according to its website. 

“We’ve never done a ‘radiothon’ to ask for donations before. But we are kind of hit with some hard times over the past year. So we’re here celebrating our listeners, celebrating local music and supporting the Sun Radio Foundation,” Gabe Raynolds, Sun Radio’s Director of programming, told KXAN. 

The Texas station has financial targets it hopes to hit by the end of each calendar year. Towards the end of 2022, station staff weren’t sure if they’d make 2022’s when, just before midnight New Year’s Eve, a single contributor donated nearly $50,000, ostensibly helping them exceed the goal. 

“But we found out they were fraudulent,” Reynold said. “Because of that, we had bank accounts frozen. And for two months, we couldn’t receive donations, and it was during some of our busiest times.” There was also an additional, smaller fraudulent donation of $7,000 given to the station shortly after the first. Sun Radio said the donations were fraudulent because the donors had stolen the money.

Then a couple of months later, during the 2023 ice storm, chunks of ice fell from one of their radio towers, damaging its building and solar panels. Reynold said insurance won’t cover much of the solar panel damage because the ice fell from the tower, not the sky.  “It’s been crazy,” he said. 

Reynolds said both the San Antonio and Austin Police departments got involved after the fraudulent donation, but the matter is still being investigated. 

One initiative impacted by the recent difficulties is the Sun Radio Recharge – a program that helps local musicians keep making and playing music. The initiative was started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic when many musicians and artists struggled but has continued to provide relief during times of great need. Most recently, Reynolds said they wrote checks to artists when gas prices surged in 2022. 

“That [program] is what we want this money to go to. That’s why we’re doing this,” Reynolds said. 
As of Saturday afternoon, Sun Radio has received over $35,000 in donations from around 170 donors. If you would like to donate to Sun Radio, click here. After large fraudulent donation, Sun Radio aims to recoup funds through a ‘Radiothon’

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