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Students

Behind the scenes at KCSU

July 22, 2010
By Kayla Green

For many students at KCSU, music has become an extreme staple and passion in their lives. And for many years, KCSU has survived as a student-run radio station; however, this wasn't always the case.

46 years of history

KCSU is a live, local, commercial free and student-run college radio station that began as far back as 1964. Originally, when the station began, it was operated and financed by college students that primarily played jazz and classical music while incorporating a number of news pieces and interviews. The station ran Monday-Friday from 4 p.m. until midnight.

For the next 46 years, KCSU would undergo many changes in music, operation, and management.

Perhaps one of the more notable changes to occur in KCSU's history was when it made the transition from a student-run radio station to a professionally operated station in 1977. However, this decision was not taken lightly. The campus felt that, based on financial difficulties and the station's format, KCSU would survive better if operated on a full-scale basis operating 365 days a week for 18 hours a day.

However, it wasn't until six years later that KCSU would begin its evolution into the station that we all know and love. That's right, in 1983, KCSU elevated its signal from 2400-watts to 10,000 and made the switch from its original 90.9FM to 90.5.

To become more acquainted with KCSU's programming, you can listen live.

The 'heart' of KCSU

KCSU DJs select songs from primetime rotation and 'The Vault' to keep a fresh, unique sound.

Music at KCSU has always been a telling sign of CSU's student generations. For many years, KCSU played classical and jazz music as well as educational pieces for its audience. However, as many of you may know, nowadays, KCSU is considered more of a progressive alternative rock station that varies as the day progresses.

"The Music department is basically the 'heart' of KCSU," said Music Director Stephanie Sullivan. "We review music to see if it is 'radio worthy' and if our listeners would like it. We talk to promoters to communicate what kind of music is playing currently at the station, which allows us to get more sweet music."

In order to prevent playing the same band or song twice in a row, KCSU has created a way to inform the next DJ which CDs were previously played. After each DJ has played a CD, they are to display it upright on the shelf signaling to the next DJ that the CD had been played during the previous show. By doing so, this allows KCSU to keep its sound fresh, unique, and unpredictable.

Likewise, KCSU has a detailed system known as, The Vault, that houses many of the songs KCSU has imported from current and past CDs. This allows the DJ to select songs from not only the primetime rotation, but the Vault as well.

Promos, bumps, and underwriting

The Production office at KCSU serves as the main location where new and quirky audio pieces are created.

The Production department at KCSU has always been a rather unique aspect of the radio station with the department's random creativity meshing together to create some of the more rare audio pieces heard on air.

"Production basically involves anything that's pre-recorded for the station, so promos, station bumps, underwriting spots, mastering in-studio performances, etc, etc. Anything that's not music or someone talking live is production," explains Production and Booking Director Nick Penney.

Promoting KCSU

If you've ever seen KCSU out on the Plaza or hanging around the Aggie, chances are, you've seen one of the remotes. Many times KCSU staff and volunteers will set up a table, hook up some speakers, and broadcast in another location just to pique your interest.

And the best part? Some of these remotes are set up because of a specific promotional event occurring in the studio that you may want to catch a bit of while in between classes. Likewise, most of these remotes have free paraphernalia that you, as students, can pick up. Some of these items range anywhere from albums to Frisbees and water bottles to stickers and window decals. So the next time you see one, stop by and say hi. The KCSU team is always open to visitors.

News and Sports

Both the News and Sports departments have always been integral parts of KCSU. KCSU sent several news reporters to the Democratic National Convention to cover the past election. Likewise, students have the opportunity to create news audio pieces and further their understanding of radio and journalistic writing in a first-hand atmosphere.

The Sports department, however, gets the most recognition through its well-known Ramblers program. The Ramblers program airs during the fall and spring semesters covering sports and rambling on about whatever pops into their minds concerning the topic.

Why do they love KCSU?

While the many departments may seem somewhat intimidating, many of the students involved enjoy the music, atmosphere, and welcoming nature of the radio station. When asked what they enjoyed most about working at KCSU, they responded with:

  • "The people are great, and I get to listen to a lot of really excellent music I wouldn't have otherwise been exposed to," said Penney.
  • "I get to have a job that I love with the most coolest people around," said Sullivan.
  • "I love having this kind of access to music. I had never really been a fan of paying for music when I was younger, and that was before I had any kind of idea of the types of music out there, so this has really satisfied my craving for acquiring music," said Music Director Adam Conner.

Get involved

KCSU is always looking for new volunteers to bring in a new and fresh taste to the scene. Every fall they host KCSU 101 in order to inform students, like you, about the ins and outs of college radio. Now that you've briefly learned about some of the departments within KCSU, take a look at the different volunteer opportunities you have:

  • read news and sports updates
  • make production pieces
  • screen and review CDs
  • work KCSU remotes
  • sports or news reporting
  • DJ

For more information on KCSU, its mission, goals, FCC regulations, volunteer opportunities, or to begin your journey with KCSU, download the KCSU Handbook.