The Baker University student-operated radio station has been kicked off its radio frequency, but that's all right with Ron Shearer, faculty adviser for the station.
Being forced by a dispute with a Topeka radio station to leave its current frequency prompted a lot of changes at the station, Shearer said. But that's all right too, he said, because the changes improved the quality of the station.
For instance, KNBU, the Baker student station, will move down the FM radio dial from 92.5 to 89.7, where Shearer says the station belongs. On the FM dial, frequencies from 88.1 to 91.9 are reserved for non-commercial radio stations and is considered the "educational" band, Shearer.
Since KNBU is non-commercial and is directly related to education, Shearer says the station should have been operating in that range of FM frequencies anyway. The station applied to the Federal Communications Commission for the new frequency and expects to win approval soon, Shearer said.
IN SHORT, the Baker station found a silver lining in what could have been considered a large cloud bank.
Among the other changes, KNBU has applied to increase its 10 watts of power tenfold. And it built a new studio, filled with updated equipment donated by local and area stations and installed by volunteers.
But Shearer said one of the biggest changes to hit the station is that, after broadcasting in monophonic sound for 24 years, it recently began transmitting a stereo signal a change that Shearer said was long overdue.
"Nobody transmits in mono anymore," he said.
Much of the "new" radio equipment most of it is used but has many years of use left in it was donated by Gannett, which publishes USA Today and owns numerous other newspapers and radio stations. Other equipment and engineering expertise to install it was donated by KCMO, WDAF and KYYS radio stations in Kansas City, Mo., KANU in Lawrence, Stauffer Communications in Topeka and KOFO in Ottawa.
The donations got rolling when Shearer was talking to Lloyd Collins, a friend of his who works as an engineer at KCMO. Collins said his station had replaced some equipment and planned to junk the older equipment. One thing led to another, and a deal was struck to donate the equipment to KNBU. The equipment was set up through donated time, and KNBU was in business, Shearer said.
WHEN THE station is allowed by the FCC to increase its power to 100 watts, it will become what is called a Class A radio station, which is characterized as a permanent station. That change also was necessary, Shearer said, because the FCC is eliminating all Class D radio stations in the country. KNBU currently is a Class D station.
About the only potential pitfall of the changeover is that the station might not have been able to find a frequency in the non-commercial, education band. If a frequency could not have been found, the station more than likely would have been forced to leave the air, Shearer said.
"I went to the administration and told them that we were faced with ceasing operation of the radio station, and we didn't want that," Shearer said.
Luckily, two available frequencies were found and Shearer chose 89.7.
The station is operated by students, who receive one hour of credit, and by volunteers who just want to be on the radio. The station currently broadcasts from noon to midnight, but plans to expand its hours as more students become available to man the station.
FUNDS SUPPLIED by Baker pay for nearly all of the station's expenses, but some programming is underwritten by area businesses. Many of the station's underwriters are record stores, which supply records and compact discs in exchange for advertising on KNBU, Shearer said.
Shearer said he was glad to see some of the changes he has been talking about for years.
"Since I've been here, I've talked about more power and going to stereo," he said. "And now, it's finally happened. It's fantastic, but without the help, we could have never done it. We're really proud of what we have. It's great for the students."