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Archive for Monday, September 3, 1990

STUDENT RADIO SOUNDS AN OPTIMISTIC NOTE FOR THE FUTURE

September 3, 1990

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In between tunes, KJHK listeners are bound to hear a proud-sounding message coming at them via the airwaves: "90.7 FM Your Sound Alternative for the Last 15 Years."

Kansas University's student radio station will turn 15 on Oct. 15, and KJHK's current staff has big plans for the anniversary. A concert is in the works, as well as promotional remotes and spins on campus.

KJHK often the subject of passionate controversy began in 1975 with a spin in front of Strong Hall, KU's administrative headquarters.

Ann Peck, graduate teaching assistant, and Nicole Vap, station manager, would like to bring KJHK's first disc jockey back to campus for the birthday party.

"It's more than just 15 years," Vap said. "It represents that we've made it. KJHK is proof that young organizations can make it."

"When you compare us to other organizations at KU, we are very young," added Peck, who was hired this past summer.

AS THEY look back at the past 15 years, KJHK's 1990 staff is trying to ensure a long-playing future for the station.

Relations among faculty, staff and students have been shaky at times. Stories that circulated in the fall of 1987 about music being removed from the station's files were denied by officials in the School of Journalism. Format changes in the late '80s were not well received by student protesters, who later formed the Committee Representing Students that KJHK Serves.

Peck and Vap insist that KJHK's darker days have come to a close.

"I would say the controversy is pretty much over," Peck said.

She and Vap say they want the station to be a positive force at KU, not a battle ground.

Tim Mensendiek, general manager, also thinks KJHK's 15th year will be a good one.

"We've accomplished a lot of things in the last year, and the students did a good job, as evidenced by the awards we won," Mensendiek said.

"The station has been in an awkward position in the past three or so years. Our goal is to become the best college laboratory in the nation."

STUDENTS who work at the station must be enrolled at KU, and KJHK exists, Mensendiek said, both to teach and serve KU's students.

"I think we're making tremendous strides in that direction," he said, adding that students and faculty are "maybe beginning to understand each other a little better these days."

Both Peck and Vap support that thinking. They said the station should serve KJHK's student audience and controversy only "tarnishes the station's reputation."

"Who are we serving? We're serving the KU student," Vap said. "Most of the people on that committee (The Committee Representing Students that KJHK Serves) aren't even KU students."

She said she believes the disc jockeys are free to play whatever music they want to play as long as the tunes comply with Federal Communications Commission regulations.

KJHK WAS slapped with a $2,500 fine in 1989 for airing donor announcements that sounded like commercials to the FCC. Because KJHK is a student laboratory, it has a non-commercial license.

Vap said KJHK can't afford to be fined again.

"We are learning the penalties if you don't do your job," Peck added.

As far as music is concerned, Mensendiek said he can allow individual freedom up to a certain point. He said he is ever-mindful of regulations, and FCC compliance must come first.

During Hawk Week, KJHK distributed its "Alternative Farm Report," a guide that outlines the station's special programs. KJHK's own "Top 45" represents a variety of music from the Pixies to My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. KJHK has promoted itself as an alternative to the airwaves' many Top 40 stations.

"A lot of people have heard of KJHK, and research backs that up by a study that showed that 92 percent of all KU students have heard of KJHK," Mensendiek said, adding that the number of students who actually listen or who have sampled the station is quite a bit lower.

Vap said KJHK hopes to "cultivate a new crop of listeners."

"We realize the importance of getting out there the first couple of weeks and slamming KJHK in their faces," Peck said.

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