Fifty years is a long time to do anything, and is certainly a good reason to celebrate.
That's why Kansas Public Radio formerly known as KANU is throwing itself a 50th birthday party from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 15 at Audio-Reader, 1120 W. 11th St.
On that day, it will have been exactly 50 years since KANU went on the air from Broadcasting Hall.
Invitations have gone out to 3,200 KANU listener members in the area, as well as programming underwriters, volunteers and former staff members.
The birthday party, which will be open to the public, will feature birthday cake and beverages; live music by CottonWood Winds, a Lawrence-based string quintet; and the Uptown Mandolin Quartet.
Kansas Public Radio on-air personalities, such as "Morning Edition" host Laura Lorson and classical music hosts Cordelia Brown and Rachel Hunter, will be on hand to greet guests.
The party will mark an important date on the calendar for the radio station.
"We've been a pretty constant, valuable part of this community for the last 50 years. I think if you said 'KANU' to someone who's been away from Lawrence for 49 years and come back, there would still be things about the station that they would recognize," said Janet Campbell, Kansas Public Radio's general manager.
KANU has remained strong because of its appeal to a wide range of listeners.
"The interesting thing about us is that we have such an eclectic format that we attract quite a diverse crowd of people. That's what I like about KANU: We are so many different things to so many different people. I get a charge out of hearing why people listen to KANU, what they've honed in on," Campbell said.
"Is it news? Is it 'Opera Is My Hobby?' For every person who comes to the birthday party, you may get a different answer. We've been a mainstay in the community for 50 years I think that's a reason to celebrate."
One longstanding tradition at KANU has been James Seaver's program "Opera Is My Hobby," which went on the air Sept. 19, 1952.
There will be a private reception for Seaver Sept. 19 in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union, which will be attended by longtime friends, listeners and invited guests from the Lawrence and KU communities.
"I find Jim Seaver extremely classy and interesting, and what he has brought to KANU is just immeasurable. Not only has he entertained people for 50 years, he's taught them, too. He is a true professor, and his genuine love for opera comes across in each of this shows. To have done that as a volunteer for 50 years is mind-boggling," Campbell said.
At a Sept. 20 dinner at the Adams Alumni Center, Seaver will be one of three people to receive this year's Fred Ellsworth Medallions for their efforts to increase cultural and ethnic awareness at KU. The award is the highest honor given by the KU Alumni Association.
Seaver served for 25 years as director of KU's Western civilization program. He has donated more than 24,000 opera records to KU's archive of recorded sound.
He also taught in the school's history department and led students on international and architecture tours in the study-abroad program. He's the author of "The Persecution of Jews in the Roman Empire," and during his career, he received two Fulbright grants.
The Fred Ellsworth Medallion has been given annually since 1975 to people who have exhibited "extraordinary service to KU."
Winners are chosen by representatives from the chancellor's office and KU alumni, athletics and endowment associates.