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|Broadcast area||Alaska Interior area|
|Branding||KSUA 91.5 College|
|Slogan||The People's Radio (1990s - 2007); The Student's Radio (2007-present)|
|First air date||September 6, 1984|
|Callsign meaning||Students of the University of Alaska|
|Former callsigns||KUWL (1985-1996)|
|Former frequencies||103.9 MHz|
|Owner||University of Alaska Board of Regents, on behalf of UA, Fairbanks|
|Webcast||low-bandwidth or high-bandwidth|
KSUA (91.5 FM) is a College radio station broadcasting a Non-commercial educational format. Licensed to Fairbanks, Alaska, USA, (though most of their legal IDs continue to refer to College, Alaska, which their previous frequency was licensed to), the station serves the Alaska Interior area. The station is currently owned by the University of Alaska Board of Regents, on behalf of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The station has won many state broadcasting awards and in spring 2012 was in the top 10 college stations competing for the MTV Woodie award.
Prehistory of KSUA
KSUA-FM didn't go on the air until the mid-1980s, but the station's roots stretch back for two decades before that, to the first UAF radio station, KUAC-FM. KUAC, the Fairbanks North Star Borough's public radio station, went on the air October 1, 1962, operating out of the Constitution Hall studios KSUA now occupies. KUAC was the first non-commercial radio station in Alaska, and also the first FM station serving the Interior. They would blaze the trail for the other stations to come, although it would not be until 1981 before Fairbanks gained its second FM station. Eventually, KUAC moved their broadcasting facilities into their current home in the basement of the Great Hall.
KUAC was joined a decade later by KMPS-AM, the precursor to KSUA. It went on-air March 24, 1971. KMPS was established owned and operated by the student government of UAF. It was a "Progressive rock" campus radio station. KMPS used the unlicensed FCC Carrier current broadcast rules. The existing AC electoral wiring in the dorms and other campus buildings were used as a broadcast antenna. Only AM radios near the buildings could receive its signal.
KMPS quickly tired of its limited listener base. In the mid-1970s, the push to become a licensed on-air broadcaster began. For that, a new call sign would be needed. Unlicensed Carrier current stations have no claim on or requirement for a call sign. In 1978 the FCC assigned the KMPS-FM call sign to a station based in Seattle, Washington.
On September 6, 1984, KSUA-FM came on the air at the frequency of 103.9 MHz. With a commercial broadcast license from the FCC. A new governing body called Student Media, Inc. (SMI). That non-profit corporation had been formed to operate the station.
Playing what is referred to in the radio industry as the "Album-Oriented Rock" or AOR format (focusing on 'deep albums tracks' in addition to more popular singles), KSUA-FM began as one of the few commercial college stations in the country. The early KSUA operated with relative autonomy, with few direct ties to the University, as a culture had existed since the 1940s at UAF of providing student services independent from the university proper. The management staff included GM Don Erisman, Sales Mgr Tom Tilson, Chief Engineer Kelly McClure, Program Manager Brian Batchelder, and on-air staff including Vince King, Malcolm Atteberry, Kate Carlyle and other students. Both KMPS and KSUA took in advertising revenue. This crew would later leave to take control of KSKE-FM in Kremmling, CO in 1983.
KSUA "Rock for the Great Land" quickly became the most popular station in the Greater Fairbanks area, with a format of playing a wide range of music that included Classic Rock, Alternative, Heavy Metal, Industrial, traditional Chicago and Delta Blues, Grunge (well before the genre became widely recognized) and a host of Independent recording acts. The format and content of each show was left largely up to the DJ of that show. The station served as a launching pad for 'Glenner and Jerry' (aka Glen Anderson and Jerry Evans), popular local announcers who enlivened the morning show format in Fairbanks, and who still work in local radio today at different stations. They would leave the station in 1987. The station's first general manager, Patrick Sutherland, also left the station in 1987 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Ohio University.
Other notables, particularly during the 1984-1991 timeframe, included Jamie "The Thrashman" Canfield, who went on to work for several independent record labels including Rounder Records, Rykodisc and Righteous Babe Records, voice work for several Rockstar Games, including Grand Theft Auto Vice City, and is currently Program Director at KSKI-FM in Hailey, Idaho, Rich Waugh (who also served as the station's general manager for a time), Lynn Berringer, Jae "Little Wing" Marshall, Jim Alexander, Andrew "Andy" and Chrys Cassel (airname Krys Kastle), Troy Lewis, David Gamelin, Bob Hartley, Brett Brown, Jody Paulson, David Patty, Robert "Rockin' Rob" Atkinson, Walter J. (Wasdyke), Wayne Fralick, "Madman" Mike Crosby, Mr. ZoSo, Su Lasalle and local blues guru Roger Leff. Andrew Cassel and Lasalle succeeded Waugh as general manager, respectively. Many of the aforementioned individuals still work today in Fairbanks radio.
KSUA's fortunes began to decline in the late 1980s. KFAR, the predominant commercial station in Fairbanks, had a format for many years in the 1970s and 1980s of top 40 music and local news and talk. Bill Walley, the station's general manager and later owner, had resisted expanding into some of the more contemporary music trends and radio formats which had emerged during the 1980s, and in fact had in part seeded KSUA during its push to become an open air station. A combination of Walley starting KWLF in 1987 and hiring away Anderson and Evans, and the decline of the Alaskan economy during the same period, saw KSUA's status as a commercial radio entity take a sudden sharp downturn. As Fairbanks's radio market expanded with a flood of new stations in the early 1990s, acute financial troubles began to plague KSUA. The station's advertising revenues steadily declined amidst an increasingly competitive broadcasting landscape. KSUA was eventually unable to meet its payroll demands to both management and on-air staff. The formerly-paid D.J.s were asked to volunteer, but in protest, one of them filed a wage claim with the Department of Labor, and KSUA was forced to give out almost $45,000 in unpaid wages. Out of money, KSUA went dark March 8, 1993.
Transformation, transition, and growth
The station stayed off the air until the end of 1993. During its downtime, SMI was dissolved, and the license for KSUA was transferred to the UA Board of Regents, to be held in trust for the students of UAF, and in September an ASUAF bill, the "Governance Agreement For The KSUA Media Board", was passed, recreating KSUA as a non-commercial, educational station, under the authority of the new KSUA Media Board. The station's chief engineer brought the broadcast studio up to FCC standards, and after serious difficulties with the transmitter, a new antenna was purchased, placed on the Moore Residence Hall on Upper Campus.
When KSUA came back online, they had new equipment, were under new management, a volunteer basis, and a brand-new format: 'edgy' Alternative rock! The new KSUA came on the air on December 2, 1993, playing the same song the station had shut down with: Pearl Jam's "Alive."
When KSUA first went open air, the portion of the FM spectrum below 96 MHz was reserved in Alaska by the military. Due to the efforts in Congress by then-Senator Ted Stevens, this had changed by 1987, and radio stations began appearing on that portion of the dial. KUAC and KSUA, as well as other public radio stations in Alaska such as KSKA, had been placed on a frequency in a section of the FM band typically reserved for commercial radio. Now that the station was operated on a volunteer basis, Borealis Broadcasting, a major local media company previously part-owned by Bill Walley until his death in 1991, wanted its frequency for a new commercial station. Borealis ended up purchasing the 91.5 frequency from a small local Christian station that had once used it, and 'trading' it to KSUA for their old frequency, which they used for their new station KUWL. KSUA got a non-commercial frequency, stronger broadcasting equipment, and $10,000 out of the deal.
KSUA provides live play-by-play coverage of University of Alaska Nanooks hockey. Veteran broadcaster Bruce Cech is the play-by-play announcer for all Nanook hockey games. KSUA streams all games live on their website, ksua.org. KSUA is the only radio station to provide Nanook hockey game coverage as no commercial radio station throughout the Fairbanks radio market airs their games.
There can be anywhere from 30 to 100 volunteers at one time, normally managed by 6-9 paid student staff members (depending on the needs at the time). These positions are normally kept for a year or two and are reviewed annually by the General Manager. The General Manager in turn is reviewed by the Media Board. The Media Board is a small board of volunteer UAF students and UAF staff who oversee the monthly operations of the station and the General Manager. They also approve the annual budget and assist in helping the General Manager make large decisions.
Even though all of the staff (paid and volunteer) of KSUA have done a lot to make this station what it was and is today, the glory always seems to go to the one person who runs the full show during their tenure.
The following is a listing of the past General Managers and their tenure:
|Start Date||End Date||Name|
|unknown||March 4, 1989||Tom Anderson|
|March 5, 1989||September 1990||Rich Waugh|
|September 1990||October 7, 1991||Su LaSalle|
|October 8, 1991||January 1992||Mark Sonnier (Interim)|
|January 1992||December 16, 1992||Jerry Beaver|
|December 17, 1992||March 8, 1993||Chris Cassell|
|March 9, 1993||January 1994||Eric Glos|
|January 1994||February 22, 1994||Tovan Adams (Interim)|
|February 23, 1994||February 14, 1995||Eric Veley|
|March 11, 1995||January 25, 1996||Greg Krauss (Interim)|
|January 25, 1996||May 10, 1997||Ted Locke|
|May 11, 1997||May 10, 1998||Leigh Patton|
|May 11, 1998||May 10, 1999||Patricia Hamer|
|May 11, 1999||September 29, 1999||Christopher Hrycko|
|September 30, 1999||May 10, 2000||Ty Keltner (Interim)|
|May 11, 2000||May 12, 2001||Katherine Goodnight|
|May 13, 2001||August 12, 2002||Ty Keltner|
|August 13, 2002||September 6, 2002||Jon Johnson (Interim)|
|September 7, 2002||May 8, 2004||Curt Merrill|
|May 9, 2004||May 8, 2004||H.B. Telling|
|September 7, 2002||May 8, 2004||Curt Merrill|
|September 7, 2002||May 8, 2004||Curt Merrill|
|May 15, 2005||May 12, 2007||Nick Brewer|
|May 13, 2007||May 10, 2008||Tara Delana|
|May 11, 2008||May 11, 2009||Matt Schroder|
|August 15, 2009||September 15, 2009||Nick Hautman|
|October 20, 2009||May 12, 2012||Ephy Wheeler|
|May 12, 2012||May 14, 2013||Rebecca K. File|
|May 14, 2013||May 18, 2015||Brady Gross|
|May 18, 2015||May 15, 2016||Mckinley Zackurdaew|
|May 15, 2015||current||Alan Fearns|
- "KSUA Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
- The Journal of College Radio, October 1972 Page 24
- "KSUA Website (History)". KSUA Website. KSUA FM. Retrieved 2 December 2011.