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KUNM logo.jpg
CityAlbuquerque, New Mexico
Broadcast areaAlbuquerque area
BrandingNew Mexico Public Radio
SloganYour neighbors, your world
Frequency89.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)
Translator(s)90.5 K213ET (Eagle Nest)
91.1 K216CU (Cuba)
91.9 K220EM (Nageezi)
Repeater(s)88.7 KBOM (Socorro)
90.9 KRRT (Arryo Seco)
91.9 KRRE (Las Vegas)
91.9 KRAR (Espanola)
First air date1966
ERP21,500 watts
HAAT1,252.0 meters (4,107.6 ft)
Facility ID6083
Transmitter coordinates35°12′44″N 106°26′57″W / 35.21222°N 106.44917°W / 35.21222; -106.44917
Callsign meaningUniversity of New Mexico
Former callsignsKNMD
AffiliationsPacifica Radio, American Public Media, National Public Radio, Public Radio International
OwnerRegents of the University of New Mexico
Sister stationsKRWG
WebcastListen Live

KUNM is a public radio station broadcasting on FM 89.9 MHz from high atop Sandia Crest, with broadcasts originating from the third floor of Oñate Hall, on the campus of the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As of April 3, 2008, KUNM has translators broadcasting at 90.5 in Eagle Nest-Cimarron (K213ET), 91.1 in Cuba (K216CU) and at 91.9 in Nageezi (Dzilth-Na-O-Dit) (K220EM).

In addition, KUNM has full-power transmitters at 88.7 Socorro (KBOM), 91.9 Espanola (KRAR), and 90.9 Arroyo Seco (KRRT). Translators at 91.1 in Arroyo Seco (K216AL) and at 91.9 in Taos (K220AV) went silent with the upgrade to KRRT's transmitter status. At writing, KUNM features a range of locally produced music shows, local and national news coverage, and public affairs programming.

The call letters "KUNM" reference the University of New Mexico. The call letters "KBOM" are sardonic humour: the transmitter reaches the Trinity Nuclear Test Site. "KRAR" stands for "Rio Arriba Radio", since Espanola is located in Rio Arriba County. KRRT stands for "Radio Relay Taos".

The station is currently funded through a combination of listener sponsorship, underwriting by local businesses and support from nonprofits, student fees, and various other sources.

Listener support accounts for a little over 50% of the station's total annual operating budget.

KUNM broadcasts in HD.[1]


The following brief, and very incomplete, history of KUNM is largely compiled from internal documents, available to any on-air volunteer, written by former station manager Steve van Dresser and long-time station volunteer Claude Stephenson.

KUNM began life in 1960 as KNMD, a "carrier current" AM radio station. According to van Dresser, "small AM transmitters [were] located in each dorm [at UNM]" and the Student Union Building. The signal was broadcast... through the AC power circuits... from about 2 in the afternoon until about 6".

According to Stephenson, fraternity and sorority members, as well as other students living off campus, complained that their student fees were being used to pay for a service they could not receive. In 1964, the Radio Board decided the best solution was to obtain a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Educational broadcast license for a transmitter on Sandia Crest.

Van Dresser continues: "the station applied to use the call letters KUNM when it went FM". The application was apparently "held up" by a commercial Spanish-language station, KBNM, which argued that its listeners might confuse "B" with "V", and that the post office might subsequently confuse "V" with "U", while the station which would eventually become KUNM continued to originate its broadcasts from the basement of the Student Union Building on the UNM campus.

Stephenson says the Radio Board decided, in 1965, to broadcast from a transmitter on top of the Student Union Building "until the funds [could] be gathered to move [the transmitter] to [Sandia] Crest".

It was at roughly this time that Ramsey Lewis' "The In Crowd" became a part of the station's musical history. According to van Dresser, this is the period during which the station began airing the cutting-edge music of the mid-to-late 'sities.

At the same time, the station was, in his words, "literally in the middle" of the "third most violent [campus] confrontation" in the wake of the "Cambodian Incursion" during the Vietnam War, during which the New Mexico National Guard was called out to expel students who "took over the Student Union Building". The first and second most violent confrontations, van Dresser reports, occurred at Kent State University and Jackson State University. He says KUNM provided a "feed" to CBS news and "did live networking with Pacifica" during the event.

Van Dresser was succeeded by L. A. "Woody" Woodworth, formerly the station's program director, as station manager. Woodworth was, in turn, "I think", as van Dresser puts it, succeeded by Mike Wolfe.

Stephenson reports that in 1965, [New Mexico State Legislature?] "Senate Bill 59 [passed] authorizing the creation of a student FM station with antenna on the [Student Union Building]". According to Stephenson, the UNM Board of Regents applied to the FCC, on behalf of the Student Council, for a 100 watt, educational band, FM station in June 1965, and that the license was granted to the Regents under the call letters KNMD.

Stephenson continues: in 1966, "KNMD files a construction permit with the FCC for 90.1 FM at 3.6 Kilowatts. The FCC grants KNMD a name change to KUNM. Before broadcast is to begin and program guides mailed out [sic.], a local commercial station with similar call letters files suit to stop the station from broadcasting as KUNM. Station broadcasts as KNLB." (See above.) According to Stephenson, KNLB finally became KUNM in October 1966.

Stephenson dates "The In Crowd" as becoming an important musical milestone in the station's history to 1968.

According to Stephenson, KUNM's attempt to move its transmitter to Sandia Crest was "blocked" by KKOB AM in 1973. He adds that KUNM moved its studios from the Student Union Building to Oñate Hall in 1976, and "finally" began broadcasting from Sandia Crest in September of that year.

KUNM became a member of NPR in 1978, following the bankruptcy of KIPC. Funding for this transition was accomplished through benefit concerts at the Kiva Auditorium in downtown Albuquerque. The station's first national broadcast contribution was an exclusive interview with Manuel Noriega by a KUNM news reporter.

KUNM was among the first radio stations to carry Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! in the mid-90's. John McCall, a UNM Law Student appointed as Radio Board Member, and Spencer Walaitis, a KUNM Volunteer and community activist/musician, campaigned for the program and encountered some opposition on the Radio Board. According to McCall, when the two went to address a Volunteer meeting and encourage support for inclusion of DN! in the program lineup, Walaitis suffered a heart attack shortly after his speech to the Volunteers. He died there in Onate Hall despite valiant efforts of the volunteers to save him. He left behind a wife and young children. After the death of Spencer Walaitis there was very little opposition to the inclusion of DN! in the program lineup.[citation needed] The transmitter atop the crest of the Sandia Mountains (Sandia Crest) was upgraded to broadcast a digital signal in November 2006.

On the afternoon of February 15, 2008, KUNM went ON AIR in Socorro from high atop "Mountain M" at 88.7 MHz with the call letters KBOM.

On the afternoon of April 1, 2008, KUNM went ON AIR in Española from atop Black Mesa at 6000 Watts at 91.9 MHz with the call letters KRAR.

On the afternoon of April 3, 2008, KUNM went ON AIR in Arroyo Seco at 90.9 MHz with the call letters KRRT, eliminating interference between translators and transmitters which had occurred since KRAR went ON AIR two days prior. At the same time, the translators at 91.1 in Taos (K220AV) and 91.9 in Arroyo Seco (K216AL) were permanently retired from service.

KUNM is broadcasting an HD signal. While this could enable much broader programming to be broadcast on other channels (HD2, HD3, etc.), KUNM to date does not do so.


Five times a week, the live call-in show Native America Calling. Native America Calling is the only nationally syndicated call-in talk show focusing on Native American issues. In fall of 2006, the in-house, half-hour "Evening Report" was reformatted to incorporate local and regional news stories into NPR's national newsmagazine All Things Considered thus eliminating some NPR stories.

Early weekday afternoons highlight locally produced jazz programming, and Free Form which features local hosts playing a wide range of music. Late mornings feature classical music from American Public Media. Evening music programming varies from acoustic folk to experimental electronic.

Weekend programming is primarily volunteer-produced music, talk and radio theater programs including a program produced by and with youth, "Generation Justice". The weekend often closes out on Sunday evenings with a broadcast of the national radio theater show Playing On Air.

KUNM broadcasts syndicated programming for several hours each day. National Public Radio (NPR) is broadcast during the morning and evening "drive time", interspersed with local news. NPR programming provides national news programs seven days a week. KUNM is an NPR Member station. Pacifica Radio programming includes Democracy Now!, Public Radio International programming includes Afropop Worldwide, American Public Media programming includes Performance Today.

Role of Volunteers at KUNM[edit]

KUNM is a hybrid station combining characteristics of a public station, complete with National Public Radio and other nationally syndicated programming, with day-time and evening prime time local programming produced by an active base of volunteers from the local community as well as the University of New Mexico student body. Currently there are nearly 100 volunteers producing about 75% of the on-air content.

Volunteers at KUNM have played a central role in the functioning of the station over the years. In 1987 recently hired Station Manager Tim Singleton made it known that the station's Morning and Afternoon Freeform programs were to be replaced with more standard NPR-style jazz and classical programming, including nationally syndicated programming produced outside of New Mexico. The response of the volunteers was an 18-month strike, with strong community support, and accompanying first amendment and other legal actions against the University of New Mexico. A settlement was reached in the Fall of 1988, that included a re-vamped Radio Board with a significant amount of say on programming changes, and a Volunteer Agreement that clarifies volunteer rights at the station.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2014-11-12.