Hundreds of Central Texas children will get brand-new bicycles this Christmas thanks to longtime Austin radio hosts JB Hager and Sandy McIlree.
The morning duo, who joined 105.3 Fringe FM this spring after spending almost two decades at another local station, said reviving their annual Bikes for Kids campaign was a top priority after settling into their new gig.Over the years, Hager said listeners and area companies have donated approximately $2 million to the campaign — enough to buy about 20,000 bikes.
The hosts kicked off this year’s Bikes for Kids campaign right before Thanksgiving with a flurry of on-air mentions and posts on social media. Learn more about how to nominate a family in need or make a contribution at fringefmaustin.com.
“We’re trying to do a lot in a very short amount of time,” Hager said. “This is a reset of sorts for us. We’re hoping to grow it back to where it was before.”
New this year, Hager and McIlree said they hope to deliver many of the bikes themselves. In past years, volunteers handed out bikes and helmets at the Mellow Johnny’s bike shop in downtown Austin while they were on the air.
“We never really got a chance to see where the bikes went before,” Hager said. “By the time we were off the air, everyone was gone.”
McIlree said the station plans to post video of some of the heartwarming deliveries on its website.
The tweaks to Bikes for Kids are one of many changes for Hager and McIlree this year. They helped launch Fringe FM in April, after several months off the air, and are trying to build the locally owned station’s audience. It’s been hard work, they said, but exciting at the same time.
“We have a whole lot of freedom,” McIlree said. “That’s the big thing that keeps us coming in every morning.”
“The owners basically told us, ‘Guys, just do your thing,’” Hager said. “It’s been great.”
In addition to hosting their show from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays, they’ve taken on a number of other duties to help get the station up and running — everything from production work to making sales calls to music selection.
“It’s really grassroots,” McIlree said. “We’re a local radio station with local owners. We’re just trying to give Austin the station it deserves. This isn’t corporate radio, where there’s no difference between a station in Austin and one somewhere like Milwaukee.”
Even though “The JB and Sandy Morning Show” has been back on the air for about seven months now, many listeners are just now rediscovering the duo, Hager said. That’s happened, in part, because of listeners and business owners around town who’ve helped spread the word the old-fashioned way, such as using yard signs.
“It seems like every single day someone is saying they just found out we were back on the air,” Hager said. “A lot of people were upset and had left radio altogether after we went off the air. They went to Pandora or Spotify because they weren’t getting what they liked on the radio. The feedback we’ve been getting has just been phenomenal.”
‘The JB and Sandy Morning Show’
6 to 10 a.m. weekdays
105.3 Fringe FM