KJHK plans ambitious expansion
Move to Kansas Union would boost student accessibility
Although KJHK, the student-run radio station of Kansas University, has been broadcasting from a shack on 11th Street for several decades, its space constraints and deterioration have left the building in poor shape.
“The shack that we broadcast from is basically falling apart,” said Ian Hrabe, KJHK music director. The disc jockeys’ equipment breaks often, and the shack’s 900-square-foot interior, not including space for utilities, is constraining, said Tom Johnson, KJHK general manager.
Therefore, the station will be undergoing a massive renovation, Johnson said, that will result in a state-of-the-art station in the Kansas Union.
“The move is more about student accessibility,” Johnson said. “It’s time to move out of the (shack).”
The target opening date for the station is fall 2009, Johnson said, but it may be earlier and depends largely on funding.
The station will be moved to the third floor of the Kansas Union and will replace three alcoves next to FedEx Kinko’s. It will be 1,300 square feet with an expanded music library and windows so passers-by may observe the station’s interior.
Johnson said DJs would broadcast with views of the Spencer Art Museum and Strong Hall. In addition, “our plan is to staff a front desk with volunteers 40 hours a week,” he said. Volunteers would also give tours of the station.
The cost of the move and renovation is about $350,000 to $400,000, Johnson said. KJHK has saved about $106,000 for the move over the past few years, and has received $75,000 from Student Senate in return for underwriting announcements for KU organizations.
“Right now, we’re doing a lot of fundraising,” Hrabe said. He said part of the fundraising includes reaching out to local businesses and conducting events such as Get Moved by Art, a benefit art auction at Liberty Hall in May.
“Rather than trying to get the remaining money in one year,” Johnson said, “we want to be less imposing.” This is why KJHK has spent little on-air time requesting donations, he added.
Although the move will be a change for anyone involved in KJHK, those affected the most are DJs, who occupy the station all day long.
“Going to the Union won’t change KJHK,” Hrabe said, “but it’ll be a different experience as a DJ.”
One of the changes is departing from an environment that’s become a second home.
“I think we’re all really sad we have to move,” Hrabe said. “We’re going to have a nice, slick, sterile studio. At the shack, stuff will come undone, and speakers will come out. I personally like the uncontrolled aspect.”
Johnson said the largest challenges for the move would be DJs broadcasting in public and the transfer of KJHK’s history to its new home. However, he said he sees a value in bringing KJHK to the Union and seeks community opinion and involvement in the process.
“It will be great for the students,” Johnson said. “The most successful radio stations have a physical presence.”