The network's roots date back to 1957, when KBJC was launched by what was then Boise Junior College as a carrier current station. It originally operated only when school was in session, and was a typical freeform college radio station. The station grew with the school, increasing its operating hours when BJC was upgraded to four-year status. The call letters changed to KBSC after Boise College was taken over by the state in 1967, and changed to the current KBSU after it was granted university status. In 1976, the station was granted a full FM license, and went on the air for the first time that fall. Gradually, the station began transitioning away from the freeform format, ultimately joining NPR in 1988. Before then, Boise was one of the largest cities in the western United States, and the only major market in Idaho, without a clear signal from NPR.