Radio K switches, now easier to find

The student-run station had previously broadcast in AM during the day and in FM at night.
September 30, 2009

Radio K once juggled its programming between several stations and radio formats. Now it can finally broadcast 24 hours a day on one station — in FM, no less — making Radio K’s signal crisper, clearer and significantly more accessible to students.
Radio K, the University of Minnesota’s student-run radio station, made the switch to 24-hour broadcasting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the same time new FCC regulations take effect.
The move is a significant gain for the station.
“To have a guaranteed 24-hour FM signal is as big as it gets in terrestrial radio,” said Willie Willette , a longtime listener who also sits on Radio K’s advisory board.
In the past, listeners had to tune into AM 770, FM 106.5, FM 100.7 and FM 104.5 , depending on the region they were in and the time of day. Now students at the University will be able to tune into one station, either FM 100.7 for those in St. Paul or FM 104.5 for students in the rest of the metro area, 24 hours a day.
“It’ll actually be a signal that people can always tune into, instead of having to switch around between the signals,” said Mark Thomson , a junior majoring in journalism who works at Radio K.
“The entire station is ecstatic. This is one of the major hurdles that we’ve been trying to get over for years, and we’re really excited,” said Jake Knight , Radio K’s music director and a senior at the University.
The license Radio K needed in order to run its own FM station hadn’t been issued for decades because of the limited number of frequencies available, said Stuart Sanders , Radio K’s development director, who has worked at the station for decades.
Radio K, which is largely funded by student fees, shared a signal with students from St. Louis Park High School . Because of this arrangement, Radio K was only allowed to broadcast in FM at night and early morning.
FCC regulations made it so the station could only broadcast on AM during the day — from sunrise to sunset — but new changes allow AM programming to be sent to FM translators 24 hours a day.
The switch to all FM broadcast will especially benefit students living on campus who want to listen to Radio K during the day.
“Because of the construction of the dormitories it’s more difficult for an AM signal to get into the dorm rooms,” Sanders said. “FM signals do a much better job at penetrating buildings.”
Sanders said the new signal gives the station the opportunity to reach more people with their “eclectic and exciting” mix of music.
“It’s not always safe. It’s great music, but it’s not commercially viable, they say,” Sanders said.
Willette agreed that the music Radio K plays is a far cry from the average radio station.
“If you want safe, turn on Love 105 or the Current,” he said, “but if you have a sense of adventure and don’t like to know what to expect, then Radio K is ideal.”

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