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89.7 WKSU
City of license Kent, Ohio
Broadcast area Greater Cleveland/Akron
Branding 89.7 WKSU
Slogan NPR. Classical.
Other smart stuff.
Frequency 89.7 (MHz) plus rebroadcasters (see article)
First air date October 2, 1950
Format Classical music/folk/NPR
ERP 14,500 watts
Class B
Callsign meaning Kent State University
Owner Kent State University
Webcast Listen Live

WKSU-FM is a non-commercial FM radio station at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio broadcasting at 89.7 MHz. It features NPR, APM and PRI programming, classical music, regional news and, on weekends, folk music.

WKSU serves the Akron radio market, but it can also be heard in most of the eastern half of the Cleveland market. The station also has repeaters in Thompson (89.1 WKSV), Wooster (89.3 WKRW), Norwalk (90.7 WNRK), New Philadelphia (91.5 WKRJ), Boardman (107.5 W298BA), and Ashland (95.7 W238AZ).



The origins of WKSU started in 1941 with the Kent State University Radio Workshop, which presented 40 different programs over several local commercial stations. In 1949, The Kent State University Board of Trustees began to take notice of the station’s modest broadcasts, and soon gave KSU President George Bowman the go-ahead to apply for a 10-watt educational station. In April 1950, the FCC gave the station permission to build a small transmitter attached to the roof of Kent Hall, and on October 2, 1950, WKSU was born. The signal was transmitted only within the confines of the campus. By November of that year, WKSU was broadcasting five hours a day, five days a week.

The 1960s brought about slow but steady growth for the fledgling station. The station’s music library was built up from private collections and the collections of its student employees, and its airtime expanded to 40 hours a week. WKSU began to become a presence in Northeast Ohio, with reports covering everything from election returns to football games.

The tragedy of the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970 was an opportunity for WKSU to prove it was a vital part of the University.

By 1973, according to a former general manager, WKSU had only 7,500 watts of power, and was not yet broadcasting in stereo. The station was only on the air for 85 hours a week, and programming was created by students, and scheduled around their class and vacation times. The entire operating budget was $42,000, and their audience rating for an entire week was 1,200 listeners. The station had a full-time staff of three.” [1]. Despite these setbacks, WKSU continued to grow and become a major media player in Northeast Ohio.

The remainder of the decade saw monumental changes for WKSU. The station was transitioning from a student to professional staff, thus the need for the station’s first fund drive. The drive raised $5,000. In April 1974, the station became an affiliate of the young National Public Radio.

On January 22, 1980, the station reached a milestone when they hooked up with the satellite Westar I. This would allow WKSU to enjoy a greatly improved broadcast signal, in addition to recording NPR programs. From that day on, WKSU grew at a rapid pace. In July 1980, the station expanded its signal to reach over a million potential listeners in Northeast Ohio thanks to a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration increasing its power to 50,000 watts.

Shortly after, the station’s new remote truck was purchased, allowing WKSU to record more than 1,000 programs in Summit, Stark, Portage, Cuyahoga, Wayne and Trumbull counties. The station’s web site was launched in 1994, and began offering on-demand streaming starting in 1995. The station added its third repeater tower in 1997, broadcasting in Thompson from WKSV 89.1.

The past 10 years have seen rapid technological advances for the station, including three different live streams from The station now broadcasts from its Kent location and via its four repeater towers and two translator stations.

Station facilities

WKSU operates out of a broadcast facility at the northeast corner of Loop Road and Summit Street in Kent. The facility was built in 1992, and brought together production and administrative offices for the first time in 18 years. The building cost $2.1 million and was funded entirely from private sources.

The station's offices were located everywhere from the cramped confines of Kent Hall to a restaurant on State Route 59 before moving to its present facility. WKSU also had its offices in Wright Hall, part of the Tri-Towers residence complex at the university. Around 1977, six floors of the residential building were turned into office space. In 1987, they were converted back to dormitories and WKSU had to move to another campus building [2].

WKSU's main newsroom is in Kent and the station maintains news bureaus in Cleveland and Canton. WKSU is in the process of establishing a news bureau in downtown Akron, sharing space with public television station WNEO/WEAO 45/49, and commercial NBC affiliate WKYC Cleveland. [1]

Kent State Folk Festival

The Kent State Folk Festival is the second oldest continuously produced folk festival on a college campus. Started in the 1960s by a group of Kent State students catching hold of the folk revival, the festival continues to preserve folk and heritage music through concerts, workshops and educational programs. Since 2000, WKSU has produced the Kent State Folk Festival, after more than 30 years of production by student campus organizations.

Folk Alley offers live streaming folk music 24 hours a day and is produced by WKSU. Created in September 2003, Folk Alley's web site is built and produced by the station. The Folk Alley playlist is created by senior host, Jim Blum and Folk Alley Music Director Linda Fahey. Folk Alley features singer/songwriter, Celtic, acoustic, Americana, traditional, and world sounds.

Since July 10, 2008, Folk Alley's programming stream has been aired as a subchannel on WKSU's HD Radio over-air feed.

External links


  1. ^ Zaidan, Abe. "WKSU: 1950-2000, A Golden Celebration" 2000.
  2. ^ Dyer, Bob. "Five Stations in Area are Making Their Moves." Akron Beacon Journal. 31 May, 1987: D2.



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