KKSU (defunct)

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City Manhattan, Kansas
Broadcast area Topeka, Kansas
Branding KKSU 580 AM
Frequency 580 kHz (shared with WIBW 1929-2002)
First air date December 1, 1924
Last air date November 27, 2002
Format News radio/talk
Power 5,000 Watts
Callsign meaning Kansas State University
Former callsigns KSAC (1924-July 26, 1984)
KEXT (July 26-30, 1984)
Owner Kansas State University

KKSU was a radio station in Manhattan, Kansas from 1924 to 2002. It broadcast on the AM dial at 580 kHz. The station owned by Kansas State University and operated by K-State Research and Extension, with studios and transmitter on KSU's campus in Manhattan.

At the time it signed off for good, it was part of one of the last shared-time frequencies in the United States.


KKSU signed on for the first time on December 1, 1924 as KSAC. The call letters came from Kansas State's name at the time, Kansas State Agricultural College. It originally broadcast at 500 watts at 880 kHz. The station was one of the first of several AM stations signed on by Midwestern land-grant colleges in the early days of broadcasting, among them Iowa State's WOI, Iowa's WSUI, Michigan State's WKAR and North Dakota's KUND. The school's extension agents saw radio as a natural extension of the school's agricultural services. In 1927, KSAC moved to 900 kHz, and the next year, it was allocated 580 kHz. KSAC and WSUI shared time on 580 kHz in late 1928 and most of 1929.

A year later, Senator Arthur Capper, publisher of Topeka's daily newspaper, the Topeka Daily Capital, asked Kansas State to share the 580 frequency with his new station, WIBW. Kansas State agreed, realizing that it could not afford to stay on the air for 24 hours a day. In 1948, KSAC boosted its broadcasting power to 5,000 watts, matching its commercial partner. Due to its location on the lower end of the AM dial, this gave it coverage of most of the state. The station was off the air at the end of 1950 and early 1951 after losing its transmitter to fire.

KSAC wanted to change its calls to KKSU in 1984, almost 30 years after gaining university status. However, a mothballed Merchant Marine ship owned those calls and wasn't willing to give them up. As a stopgap, the station changed its calls to KEXT (Kansas EXTension) on July 26, but continued efforts to get its preferred calls. Finally, it was able to get the KKSU calls on July 30.

By the mid-1990s, KKSU was on the air from 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm Central Time every weekday, airing livestock reports, agricultural updates, and news programming. For several years, it also had a daily hour of recorded classical music called Music From the Masters.


WIBW tried several times over the years to buy full control of the 580 frequency, especially after 1957, when Oscar Stauffer bought the Daily Capital (and later merged it into the Topeka Capital-Journal) Despite tremendous political pressure, KSAC/KKSU stayed on the air.

In December 2001, Kansas State decided to move its sports broadcasts to the Mid-America Ag Network (MAAN) after airing them on WIBW continuously since 1969 and off-and-on since the 1950s. WIBW countered by citing a 1969 amendment to the timeshare agreement. That amendment granted WIBW the right to broadcast Wildcat football in exchange for allowing KKSU (then still known as KSAC) to extend its operating hours an additional 15 minutes each weekday.

After heated negotiations, WIBW's owner, Morris Communications (which bought WIBW in 1994) agreed to ignore the agreement if KKSU would give it full control of the 580 frequency. On August 29, Morris agreed to buy KKSU's timeslot for $1.5 million. In return, it agreed to give exclusive rights to all Wildcat sporting events to MAAN.

KKSU went off the air for the last time on November 27, 2002.

For decades KKSU had mailed radio programs and features to stations across the nation. That service was called the "K-State Radio Network." After KKSU ceased broadcasting, the former KKSU staff continued to operate the network service while at the same time starting to build a satellite uplink by which to distribute its offerings to member stations. The site was licensed in July, 2003, and a couple of months later the daily program "Agriculture Today" began delivery to stations wishing to air it. The K-State Radio Network continues to produce and distribute agricultural news, family and public affairs programming to radio stations and networks across the Midwest.

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