On the eighth floor of a medical center office building, dozens of people crowded into a room packed with boxes to browse through piles of CDs, LPs, books, and Christmas decorations Friday morning.

Texas Public Radio opened its doors for the first day of a garage sale at its offices on Datapoint Drive to unload some of its massive collection of music and other items, as the station prepares to move to the renovated Alameda Theater in downtown next month.

Friday’s turnout far exceeded the staff’s expectations, said Nathan Cone, TPR’s vice president of community and cultural engagement, who first proposed the garage sale.

“There were 15 people waiting here when we opened at 10,” Cone said.

By 10:30 a.m. there wasn’t much room to move among all the customers and the vast collections of CDs lining the window sills and spilling out of boxes on the tables and floor.

Cone said listeners shouldn’t worry about the sale impacting the station’s programming.

“Our core music library isn’t going anywhere,” he said. “The LPs and CDs are all overstock, uncatalogued material, and we don’t want to bring it all over to the new facility. Better to let fellow fans enjoy it.”

Shoppers Aaron Michael and Freddy Angulo meet on their way out of TPR’s garage sale and discuss their love for tango music and dance.

Tyler Neufer, who was lugging around a huge orange reusable bag stuffed with dozens of CDs, said he drove in from Seguin for the sale. Friday is normally his day off work, but he said he didn’t mind waking up early to make sure he made it to the TPR sale right when it started.

Neufer recently moved back to the San Antonio area after getting his degree out of state and now teaches French horn to middle and high school students. He was mainly searching for CDs with opera or French horn pieces. 

He said he and his mother are avid listeners of TPR’s classical music station, and he’s been pleased with how much music they play featuring French horns. 

But it wasn’t all classical music in the piles of CDs. Neufer also uncovered soundtracks for 1990s films, such as Independence Day and The Lost World.

Dorothy Senac began listening to the classical music station to fall asleep at night, but now the station is on almost all day at her home. She said she didn’t have a particular item in mind when she showed up, but after an hour and a half of shopping around, she had collected several CDs, a large planter, a waste basket bearing the Texas flag, and five TPR T-shirts for friends and family.

Thousands of compact disks could be found at TPR’s garage sale for a suggested donation of $1 each.

Most customers focused on the music, patiently flipping through the CDs and LPs, but in the middle of the room were boxes bursting with nonmusical offerings, such as yards of green garlands and tangles of Christmas lights. One happy customer walked out with Fiesta decorations trailing from her arms.

No items were priced in the sale, and signs around the room encouraged customers to “make an offer.” TPR staff offered both credit card and cash options for payment, as they let customers set their own prices. 

Cone said the station has been growing in the last few years, and now has about 50 staff members, with a goal to add about 30 more employees in the next eight years. Space has become so tight in their current offices, they have even resorted to using closets as sound booths at times. 

TPR President and CEO Joyce Slocum said TPR’s new office space, at about 40,000 square feet, is nearly four times the size of its current location. The new location will also boast what Cone called a black box theater with a grand piano, where audiences will be able to come for concerts and events, including possible live broadcasts of some of TPR’s signature shows.

This conceptual rendering shows a view of TPR's headquarters (left) and the Alameda Theater (right) from West Houston Street.
This conceptual rendering shows a view of TPR’s headquarters (left) and the Alameda Theater (right) from West Houston Street.

The Alameda Theater is a historic building that was once the largest Spanish-language theater in the nation. It closed in the 1980s and was bought by the city in the 1990s.

TPR’s move to the old theater building has been years in the making and has taken the cooperation of Bexar County, the City of San Antonio, the Alameda Theater Conservancy, and TPR. Renovations began on the theater building last January and were funded through the County and the City, as well as $5 million raised by TPR. 

This will be the first move in the station’s history since it began broadcasting from the building on Datapoint Drive in 1982 as a classical radio station. In 1988 the news station went on the air with NPR content. The two stations broadcast on different channels, with the classical station KPAC on 88.3 FM and the news station KSTX at 89.1 FM, but Cone said both are housed in the same office space and studios under the umbrella of TPR. 

The garage sale will continue at 8401 Datapoint Drive, Suite 800 on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Jennifer Norris has been working in journalism since 2005. She's a native Texan, but a new San Antonian who is excited to get to know the city.