The founding students of KVSC taken 1968.
KVSC first began operations as a 10 watt; Class D broadcast facility on May 10, 1967, broadcasting at 88.5 megahertz. For ten years prior to this, students interested in radio broadcasting had no live-air broadcasting opportunities. The students would pre-produce all their programming in the university studios, which would then be aired on WJON (AM1240) radio. This meant that all programs produced would have to fit in with WJON’s format, or they would not get on the air. It was soon decided that Saint Cloud State University had a need for its own radio broadcast facility, and thus KVSC was developed.
The call letters were selected to signify that the station would serve as the Voice of Saint Cloud. The station was run exclusively by volunteers from the University student population and was financed by the student activity fees and the Mass Communications department. The music format was predominantly classical music, with a smaller percentage of folk and rock music sprinkled in. The overall operation was small and required minimal funding, outside of the need for equipment acquisition and repair.
In 1969, the Higher Education Coordination Board formed a subcommittee to organize and work with communications programs in Minnesota higher-education institutions. KVSC’s advisor was instrumental in developing this committee. In 1972, the HECB subcommittee was disbanded in favor of a new organization. The Assosiation of Minnesota Public and Educational Radio Stations (AMPERS), a non-profit corporation, was officially registered on July 26th, 1977. It was comprised of the same member stations that were involved in the HECB committee. KVSC is a charter member of AMPERS and two of its managers have served terms as president.
On numerous occasions throughout the 1970’s, KVSC sought approval to increase its broadcast power, with the final approval coming in November of 1981. KVSC officially moved down the dial to 88.1 MHz at 6 a.m. on February 8th, 1983, and increased power to 5,200 watts. KVSC was amended to a radio class C2 operation, and licensed to operate 20 hours per day. Unfortunately, broadcast at this new level caused interference with local television reception. Experimentation with antennae filters and transmitter dampers did little to alleviate the interference problems. In early April of 1983, just over one month after the long-awaited increase, Saint Cloud State University voluntarily elected to reduce KVSC’s output power to 1,300 watts until a more permanent solution to this interference could be found. Funding and permits were granted, allowing KVSC to erect a new antenna, away from the campus area (formerly located on top of Sherburne Hall).
The new transmitter site was built near the intersection of Highway 15 and Interstate-94, where high-power broadcasts would be less likely to interfere with the St. Cloud residents. The power increase was finalized on September 24th, 1992. KVSC now broadcasts with an operating power of 16,500 watts, covering a 70 mile broadcast radius with a potential audience of nearly two million listeners in the central Minnesota region.
In November 1993 KVSC’s sports department adopted the policy of not broadcasting Indian team mascot names in stories and within KVSC play-by-play coverage. This policy was put in place to recognize and respect Native Americans and Indigenous people’s perspective on team mascot names.
KVSC began broadcasting 24 hours a day in September of 1994. The license allows for unlimited broadcast hours, but KVSC maintains a 24-hour schedule except during semester and holiday breaks at the University. After several years of planning, KVSC began broadcasting its radio signal on the Internet in October of 1999 (this website was established in 1995). KVSC established a solid relationship with Cloudnet, a local Internet supplier. The station began with fifteen stereo Real Audio streams located at www.kvsc.org. There is now room for a great number of Internet listeners to enjoy KVSC’s programming worldwide. With the introduction of KVSC on streaming audio, long-lost alumni, family and friends of the station could finally tune in regardless of where in the world they may be.
KVSC’s programming format has not always featured alternative and progressive music. For a brief period, starting in June of 1984, student directors elected to change KVSC to a Top 40 “hit radio” format. During this period, KVSC lost its unique listener appeal. The programming was similar to most other Top 40 formats, and the program quality was considered poor. In the spring of 1985, university administration made the decision to override the student directors’ decision and change KVSC’s format back to the alternative and progressive format for which it is best known.
During the summer of 1986, the university administration approved the institution of KVSC’s first full-time paid staff position. Kevin Ridley (known as Captain Science on the air) was a graduate of the Mass Communications program and long-time KVSC staff member. He took on the position of Station Manager, acting as a full-time liaison between the university administration and the KVSC staff and student directors. Jo McMullen-Boyer, also a graduate of the Mass Communications program at SCSU, currently holds the position of Station Manager.
In September 2005 the university supports the funding of a second full-time radio professional. Jim Gray is hired as the Director of Operations to oversee technology and engineering, support student leaders and general station operations. KVSC also has two graduate student positions appointed annually to assist with station operations.KVSC operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In its role as Your Sound Alternative (an official slogan since 1983), KVSC provides programming which is unique within its market. KVSC has received acclaim for outstanding efforts in the areas of public affairs, programming, news and sports coverage, pre-produced features and live music coverage. The station is embracing technology developments (Digital, Internet, etc.) and who knows what the future will hold for 88.1FM.
Milestones in KVSC History
1960-’67 SCSU students form a Radio Guild, but do not have broadcast facilities. WJON broadcasts the students weekly program called the On Campus Show every Saturday at 10 a.m.
May 10, 1967 St. Cloud State University debuts its public radio station, KVSC, at 88.5 FM. The station is a 10 watt, Class D facility with minimal programming and broadcast range. The call letters, KVSC, were chosen as the Voice of St. Cloud. Musical format was predominantly classical music, with a small percentage of folk and rock music.
July 26, 1977 KVSC becomes a charter member of AMPERS, the Association of Minnesota Public Educational Radio Stations. This not-for-profit organization currently represents 18 diverse and educational stations in Minnesota.
1978 KVSC begins to transmit a stereo signal. Student assistant general manager Lory “Ole” Olson said the decision “greatly improves the stations sound quality.” The monaural sound system is replaced by stereophonic sound.
February 5, 1980 KVSC debuts its annual Trivia Contest. The fifty-hour trivia marathon now draws more than 2,000 competitors from St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, and Internet teams from around the country.
February 8th, 1983 KVSC officially moved down the dial to 88.1 MHz and increased power to 5,200 watts. KVSC’s signal interfered with a Minnesota Northstars hockey playoff game on TV channel 7 inciting a public hearing at St. Cloud’s City Hall.
April 1983 KVSC voluntarily elects to reduce KVSC’s power to 1,300 watts due to interference with television and radio station signal boosters.
June 1984 After much debate and local media coverage, student directors change KVSC’s format to a Top 40 “hit” radio station similar to other stations in St. Cloud. This decision goes against the wishes of nearly all student volunteers at KVSC.
Spring 1985 After great disagreement among the volunteer staff, SCSU’s administration endorses a decision to override the student directors Top 40 “hit” format. The new progressive format features alternative programming and specialty shows in Blues, Jazz, Folk, and female artists. Your Sound Alternative becomes the station’s identifying statement.
July 1, 1986 KVSC supports its first full-time professional position. The Station Manager is responsible for day-to-day operations of KVSC. This position was held by Kevin Ridley
February, 1991 St. Cloud State University’s administration threatens to cut KVSC’s entire budget of $23,000, therefore virtually eliminating the radio station. More than 3,000 community members sign a petition to support KVSC. Extensive media coverage and a major lobbying campaign save KVSC from going off the air.
October 1991 KVSC organizes the Big Neighborhood Garage Sale in conjunction with WJON/WWJO Broadcasting. Community members donate garage sale items and the sale raises $5,000 to support the radio station.
August 1992 Jo McMullen is hired as the Station Manager. She brings a focus on community and public affairs reporting.
September 24, 1992 KVSC increases its operating power from 1,300 watts to 16,500 watts with its signal reaching a 70-mile radius of St. Cloud. Fundraising efforts helped support the financial burden of the power increase. The FCC permits KVSC to move its transmitter from the top of Sherburne Hall, a residence hall on campus, to a new tower location near Interstate 94 and Highway 15.
September, 1994 KVSC begins broadcasting 24 hours a day for the first time in the station’s history. Previous broadcast hours were 6 a.m. until 2 a.m.
1995 KVSC launches its website on the Internet. The website is maintained by students and alumni and is supported by Cloudnet, a locally owned Internet provider. They continue to support KVSC.org today!
May 9-11, 1997 KVSC Celebrates 30 years of broadcast excellence and invites more than 800 alumni and community members to the weekend festivities.
1999 KVSC begins broadcasting live on the Internet as a webstream. The initial service featured 15 stereo streams, but the live KVSC broadcast can now reach an unlimited amount of listeners and SCSU alumni.
2002 KVSC Celebrates 35 years of providing diverse, educational programming.
Summer 2003 Purchase of a new digital audio system, which we lovingly refer to as the “Force” because sometimes it appears as if it is guided by powers we can’t comprehend.
November 2003 KVSC goes digital. We changed over to a digital transmitter to broadcast our signal. The switch has improved the strength and increased the distance our signal is able to travel.
September 2005 KVSC secured funding from St. Cloud State University to hire our second full-time professional radio position. We are proud to announce that Jim Gray is KVSC’s Director of Operations. The additional staff position (the only other full-time position prior to this is the Station Manager, currently held by Jo McMullen-Boyer) has been a goal for many years. We hope to better serve our students and further build our campus and community partnerships to develop programs and local events that ultimately benefit our listeners and community.
May 2007 KVSC celebrates 40 Years of Broadcasting! We were honored by the presence of alumni from 1967 to present volunteers (and those from the guild prior to the F.C.C. license issued on May 10, 1967). We celebrated with four events–representing four decades of non-commercial, educational radio. More than 800 people enjoyed two concerts, social time and a backyard barbecue. View a photo gallery here or check out the feature story in the St. Cloud Times.
October 2008KVSC receives a Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The grant supports acquiring new programs, access to the NPR Satellite System and station outreach and promotions in the community. New programs funded under the CPB grant include Native Voice News, Undercurrents: American Music with a Passport, Afropop Worldwide, To the Best of Our Knowledge, American Routes, Voices from the Circle and Earthsongs.
July 2009 KVSC receives its first grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Legacy Fund. The grant supports three new half-time employees (content producer Jeff Carmack, technical support Alex Hartman, St. Cloud Somali Radio developer Ben Prchal), concerts, developing the webstream St. Cloud Somail Radio and other projects connecting the station further with the community.
In fact, for the first time in KVSC’s 43-year history, the station broadcast live from international grounds. With support from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, KVSC provided live coverage from the Winnipeg Folk Festival at Bird’s Hill Provincial Park July 8-10, 2009. KVSC vets Wayne Bergerson and Mike Chouinard hosted live musical acts, interviewed artists and reported live from the festival. KVSC is the only station granted this permission by the organizers of this world class festival.
November 2010 Monday Night Live hits the road. KVSC broadcast a live hip-hop concert featuring a special two-hour performance by More Than Lights and Kanser at the Pioneer Place on Fifth in downtown St. Cloud, Minn. The free concert took place Nov. 1. The success of this concert, along with Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps the following year, leads to the technical development of Granite City Radio Theatre-a live production in partnership with the Pioneer Place Theatre, which is in its 6th season in 2017-18.
Winter 2011 KVSC renovates the multi-track studio. The $45,000 upgrade included a new 60-channel audio console with dual 46-inch monitors. Key highlights include the ability to record 24 channels simultaneously into Pro Tools 9 software, multiple monitor mixes and headphone mixes for performers and the new display monitors use an electronic lift system to maximize space and ergonomics.
August 2011 KVSC broadcasts two live performances from the 2011 Minnesota State Fair, a tradition that started in 2002. Performers included the acoustic duo Lehto and Wright and bluegrass band Luke Warm and the Cool Hands.
In April 2014, thanks to support from the College of Liberal Arts at St. Cloud State University, and a strong relationship with broadcast manufacturer Nautel, KVSC’s replaces its analog transmitter with a new HD Transmitter. This allows for more content on HD Channels 2-4.
May-August 2016 For the first time in nearly 30 years KVSC renovates and completely rebuilds its main broadcast and production studios. The upgrade completes the conversion to all digital facilities and audio over IP. Also, the major upgrade changes the layout of the studios to better train announcers, interact with live guests and produce live music segments in the main studio.
September 2016 KVSC celebrates Monday Night Live’s 25th anniversary! During its 25 seasons, more than 550 groups/musicians have performed on MNL. MNL’s mission is to showcase local Minnesota talent and is produced entirely by the amazing students of KVSC and UTVS—everything from booking the talent to perform, sound engineering, filming, production, marketing and media relations. This tag team effort delivers around 25 live music shows every school year. To read about the full history of MNL, click here.
2017 KVSC celebrates its 50th anniversary year with community and alumni events. The June 9-11activities include an Open House BBQ, alumni on the air, with the same hosts who started the station in 1967 hosting a portion of the day’s programming! There’s an alumni concert with Nooky Jones and Davina and the Vagabonds and a community concert with The Cactus Blossoms and Dead Man Winter.