San Antonio’s first radio stations, KTSA and WOAI, began broadcasting in 1922 and remain on the air today. To mark 100 years of radio in the Alamo City, San Antonio College’s KSYM will host a celebration on campus Friday.

The event will take place from 3-7 p.m. at the Longwith Radio, Television and Film Building at 121 W. Courtland Place. It is free and open to the public and will include refreshments, speeches and tours. The festivities will also be broadcast live on KSYM (90.1 FM). 

Those involved in the arts in San Antonio have likely spent time at San Antonio College’s radio station chatting with KSYM talent, either on air or in between live broadcasts. Friday’s event offers a chance for the general public to meet some renowned radio personalities — walking encyclopedias of music and talk radio history — that include past and present KSYM DJs, as well as select local and national peers. 

The student-run community college station is observing the centennial anniversary of local radio broadcasting in conjunction with the grand reopening of its newly remodeled on-site studio. KSYM station general manager, SAC instructor and faculty advisor Donnie Meals is spearheading the event and the reopening of the renovated campus studio as the station’s primary site of operations, a welcome return to the studio after broadcasts went remote in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Meals’ history with KSYM dates back to 1975 when he spun records as a college freshman. He returned to campus a decade later to teach students about multitrack recording techniques. Meals went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees after embracing a love of teaching and is excited about the gathering of minds and personalities that the event is sure to draw.

“We expect to see many friends, old and new,” he said. “We are a community of talented, passionate on-air personalities. Our kindred spirit binds us, no matter how long or how far our careers separate us.”  

Sonny Melendrez, a well-known radio and television personality in San Antonio and beyond, will serve as master of ceremonies. Melendrez worked as program director and host at several radio stations — including KIIS, KMPC, KFI, KMGG and KRLA in Los Angeles, and KTSA, KTFM, KSMG and KLUP in San Antonio — before becoming an author and motivational speaker. He recently worked with KLRN TV to produce 100 Years of Radio in San Antonio, a series of vignettes about radio broadcasting in San Antonio, which will premiere at the SAC event and continue on KLRN through October. 

“I join my fellow broadcasters and members of the Society of San Antonio Radio Broadcasters in celebrating 100 years of radio in San Antonio,” said Melendrez. “Many of us trace our beginning in this magical medium to our days at San Antonio College. May we set the stage and extend our hands to those who will follow in our footsteps.”

In addition to Melendrez, Meals said special guests include state Sen. José Menéndez, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Councilman Mario Bravo, a performance by Michael Martin and Val Cronk of The Infidels, and numerous air talents and directors from San Antonio’s radio and television industry.

Anjali Gupta is a curator, editor and writer based in Southtown.