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KSUA logo.gif
City Fairbanks, Alaska
Broadcast area Alaska Interior
Branding KSUA 91.5 College
Slogan The People's Radio (1990s - 2007); The Student's Radio (2007-present)
Frequency 91.5 MHz
First air date September 6, 1984; 33 years ago (1984-09-06)
Format Alternative rock[1]
ERP 3,000 watts
HAAT -5.0 meters
Class A
Facility ID 20445
Transmitter coordinates 64°51′32.00″N 147°49′41.00″W / 64.8588889°N 147.8280556°W / 64.8588889; -147.8280556
Callsign meaning Students of the University of Alaska
Former frequencies 103.9 MHz
Affiliations Pacifica Radio
Owner University of Alaska Board of Regents, on behalf of UA, Fairbanks
Webcast low-bandwidth or high-bandwidth
Website ksua.net

KSUA (91.5 FM) is a student run College radio station licensed to Fairbanks, Alaska, United States, though most of its legal IDs continue to refer to College, Alaska, where their previous frequency was licensed to. Broadcasting with 3,000 watts effective radiated power (ERP,) it serves the Alaska Interior area.[2] The station operates under the FCC non-commercial educational license public radio rules.[3] It is owned by the University of Alaska Board of Regents, on behalf of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. KSUA has won statewide and national broadcasting awards.

Prehistory of KSUA[edit]

KSUA-FM did not 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[4] studios KSUA now occupies. KUAC was the first public radio station in Alaska, and also the first FM station serving the Interior. It would blaze the trail for other stations to come. In 1971, KUAC moved its radio and new TV broadcasting facilities into the lower level of the UAF Fine Arts Building.[5]

KUAC was joined a decade later by KMPS-AM, the precursor to KSUA.[6] It went on-air March 24, 1971. KMPS was established, and operated by the student government of UAF. It was a "Progressive rock" campus radio station.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9]

Commercial years[edit]

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. Both KMPS[10] and KSUA took in advertising revenue. The Licensee was called Student Media, Inc. (SMI). That nonprofit corporation had been formed to operate the station.[11]

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, as are WHUR-FM at Howard University and WPGU at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 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 of the university.

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[12] 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.[13] They would leave the station in 1987 for KWLF in Fairbanks. In 2013 they still worked in local radio but at different stations.[14] The station's first general manager, Patrick J. Sutherland, also left the station in 1987 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Mass Communication.[15] D.J. Jamie Canfield, 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 in 2011 he was Program Director at KSKI-FM in Hailey, Idaho,[16]

KSUA's fortunes began to decline in the late 1980s. A combination of starting KWLF in 1987 and then it hired away Anderson and Evans. Add the decline of the Alaskan economy during the same period, saw KSUA's stability as a commercial radio entity take a downturn. As Fairbanks's radio market expanded with more 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.[17]

Transformation, transition, and growth[edit]

KSUA booth at the 2012 Tanana Valley State Fair.

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. In September the Associated Students University of Alaska Fairbanks (ASUAF) bill, called "Governance Agreement For The KSUA Media Board", was passed. It recreating KSUA as a public radio station, under the authority of the new KSUA Media Board. The station's chief engineer brought the system up to FCC standards. A new antenna was purchased, placed on the Moore Residence Hall[18] on the Upper Campus. When KSUA came back on the air, it had new equipment and new management. The new KSUA came back on the air December 2, 1993, playing the same song the station had shut down with: Pearl Jam's "Alive."

When KSUA first went on 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.[19] KUAC, as well as other public radio stations in Alaska such as KSKA, had been placed on a FM frequency typically reserved for commercial radio. With KSUA now operating as a public radio station, Borealis Broadcasting, a local media company wanted its frequency for a new commercial station. Borealis purchased the 91.5 frequency from a local off-the-air Christian station then 'traded' it to KSUA for their old frequency, which Borealis used for their new station KUWL. KSUA got a public radio frequency, transmitter, and money out of the deal.[20][21]


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.

General Managers[edit]

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.


KSUA has won more than 10 statewide broadcasting awards.[22] In 2012 it was among the top 10 college stations nationwide competing for the MTV college radio woodie award.[23] The next year KSUA won the College Radio Woodie Award.[24]


  1. ^ KSUA on line rebroadcast site http://www.liveonlineradio.net/alaska/ksua-fm-2.htm Retrieved 7/14/2017
  2. ^ "KSUA Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division. 
  3. ^ FCC 31 Nonprofit Media Though public radio and TV... FCC Programming Requirements Noncommercial licenses are available only for “educational” purposes. TV stations must show that the licenses will be used “primarily to serve the educational needs of the community; for the advancement of educational programs; and to furnish a nonprofit and noncommercial television broadcast service.” This includes transmitting “educational, cultural, and entertainment programs.” FM radio licensees must be nonprofit educational organizations that advance “an educational program.”

    In practice, though, the FCC has allowed the stations to determine for themselves whether they have produced programming of this sort. The commission has intentionally left “educational programming” undefined, describing public broadcasting instead in terms of what it is not: Public stations “are not operated by profit-seeking organizations nor supported by on-the-air advertising,” with their “positive dimensions” determined by “social, political, and economic forces outside the Commission.”

    Because noncommercial stations have an educational mission, whose contours have been left unspecified, the FCC has never adopted public interest programming rules for noncommercial stations, such as requiring that a certain amount of airtime be dedicated to local news. https://transition.fcc.gov/osp/inc-report/INoC-31-Nonprofit-Media.pdf
  4. ^ UAF Constitution Hall http://www.alaska.edu/uajourney/buildings/constitution-hall-(uaf)/
  5. ^ KUAC move 1971 https://news.uaf.edu/kuac-marks-40-years-since-first-television-broadcast
  6. ^ Huisingh, Raechyk (27 January 2014). "Looking back: KSUA over the years". UAF Sun Star. pp. 1 and 5. Retrieved 16 November 2017. 
  7. ^ The Journal of College Radio, Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, Inc., October 1972 Page 24
  8. ^ "Low Power Radio - General Information". Federal Communications Commission. 8 December 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2017. 
  9. ^ https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/pubacc/prod/call_hist.pl?Facility_id=20356&Callsign=KMPS-FM
  10. ^ "KMPS Data". The Journal of College Radio (October 1972): 24. 
  11. ^ "STUDENT MEDIA, INC., AK Nonprofit Corporation, Formed 1/21/1983". Corporation Details. State of Alaska. Retrieved 16 August 2017. 
  12. ^ Huisingh, Raechyk (27 January 2014). "Looking back: KSUA over the years". UAF Sun Star. p. 5. Retrieved 16 November 2017. 
  13. ^ Kaynor, Carol. "Glen "Glenner" Anderson". Alaska Sea Grant Week 2012. Alaska Sea Grant - NOAA. Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  14. ^ Morrow, Weston. "Evans, Anderson to lead Fairbanks United Way campaign". www.newsminer.com. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  15. ^ "Patrick J. Sutherland Ph.D., Prof. of Communication, and GM of WVBC-Radio". Faculty. Bethany College. Retrieved 16 August 2017. 
  16. ^ "10 Questions with ... Jamie Canfield October 10, 2011". www.allaccess.com. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  17. ^ Huisingh, Raechyk (27 January 2014). "Looking back: KSUA over the years". UAF Sun Star. p. 5. Retrieved 16 November 2017. 
  18. ^ UAF Moore Residence Hall http://www.alaska.edu/uajourney/buildings/moore-hall/
  19. ^ FCC Radio Spectrum Allocation https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/policy-and-rules-division/general/radio-spectrum-allocation
  20. ^ Huisingh, Raechyk (27 January 2014). "Looking back: KSUA over the years". UAF Sun Star. p. 5. Retrieved 16 November 2017. 
  21. ^ Musings about college radio and independent music - November 14, 2008 Interview with Matthew Schroder, who worked years as a staffer and now is the new General Manager of KSUA-FM "Spinning Indie 50 State Tour: Stop 5 - Alaska Station KSUA". spinningindie.blogspot.com. Spinning Indie. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  22. ^ KSUA dominates student division of Alaska Broadcasters Association awards https://www.uafsunstar.com/issue-12-ksua-awards/
  23. ^ 2012 MTV College Radio Woodie Award http://www.mtv.com/woodies/2012/winners
  24. ^ 2013 MTV College Radio Woodie Award http://www.mtv.com/woodies/2013/winners Retrieved 8/11/2017

External links[edit]