Kent State University grew significantly in the 1960s and '70s, and so did WKSU with a move to new studios, increased power and additional hours of weekly programming that included a strong emphasis on classical music. In 1967, Congress created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and in 1970, NPR was created - although it wouldn't be until 1974 that WKSU would join as an affiliate, adding All Things Considered to the schedule. John Perry, who came to Kent State in 1971, assumed day-to-day management of the station when John Weiser retired.
As WKSU celebrated its 30th birthday, the station looked to the future by developing new fundraising techniques and professionalizing the staff, earning a national reputation for excellence along the way. To fill ever increasing needs, WKSU initiated a capital campaign with the idea of building a state-of-the-art broadcast facility, a dream that came true as the WKSU Broadcast Center was dedicated on Dec. 3, 1992, two years after the station had marked its 40th anniversary. The next year, WKSU's on-air sound was named the best in the nation by Public Radio Program Directors, Inc., a feat the station would repeat four times before the award was retired. WKSU's coverage area saw dramatic growth during this period as the station's main antenna was moved to Copley Township and repeater towers were added in Wooster, New Philadelphia, and Thompson.
With a new Millennium dawning, WKSU passed the half-century post by throwing a yearlong series of events spotlighting keystones of the station's programming, including guests from NPR, concerts featuring classical and folk music, a live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, and a WKSU Homecoming banquet. A new era began as John Perry retired and Development Director Al Bartholet (who first came to WKSU as a student in the '70s) was named the station's fourth General Manager.
In the early years of the 21st century, WKSU continued to expand its range and availability. By 2005, news and music were available twenty-four hours a day online at WKSU.com. WKSU's FM availability also broadened as a repeater station was added in Norwalk in 2004. Low power translators made WKSU programming available in Boardman and Ashland in 2006. Then in 2008, WKSU took the next step in radio by introducing three digital radio channels, available on HD Radio. WKSU HD-1, 2, and 3 carry the regularly scheduled programming, music from Folk Alley, and 24-hour classical music respectively.
Today, WKSU continues to be one of the most respected and award-winning radio stations in America. As WKSU moves toward the future, it proudly holds to its traditions of creating quality public radio programming based on broadcasting innovation and excellence.
||Howard Hansen becomes first full time director
of radio at Kent State University. Radio Workshop
presents 40 different programs over local commercial
station, WAKR. Radio Workshop facilities moved to
third floor of Kent Hall.
||Radio Workshop presents a weekly program over WADC,
||Walton D. Clarke is appointed director of radio and
develops Radio Broadcast curriculum. FM frequencies
begin commercial development.
||FCC authorizes low power FM frequencies for non-commercial/educational
stations. Radio Workshop begins the installation of
a 5-watt signal that can be sent over wires to the residence
||Kent State Board of Trustees authorizes the application
for a 10-watt educational station. Clarke and E. Turner
Stump travel to Washington, DC to personally deliver
the application to the FCC. In September, John Weiser
joins the staff. On Dec. 9, the FCC accepts KSU’s
application for filing.
||On April 12, the FCC grants Kent State a construction
permit for WKSU-FM at 88.1. A single ring antenna is
mounted on a 50 ft. pole attached to a chimney on the
roof of Kent Hall with a line to the station transmitter
running through a third floor window to the control
room. Test pattern trials conducted in May through July.
Oct. 2 1950 – WKSU-FM officially begins an eclectic
mix of regularly scheduled programming 5 hours a day,
5 days a week during the academic year with a student
on-air staff. This same day, newspapers around the country
offer a new comic strip, “Peanuts” by Charles
Schulz. Station broadcasts its first KSU football game
– an away game against the University of New Hampshire
– with recorded sound effects and details via
Western Union telegraph messages received in the studio.
John Weiser named station manager.
||WKSU airs its first KSU basketball game live through
a hardwired line between Wills Gym and Kent Hall, although
by the end of the year, WKSU was completely wireless.
||Station does live broadcast of election returns for
Portage County from county courthouse, a standard practice
||Application filed with the FCC to increase power to
1000 watts on a 310-ft. tower at 91.2. WJW-TV objects
due to interference caused to their audio and 89.7 is
settled on. WKSU studios moved to third floor of the
new KSU Music and Speech Building.
||Programming schedule expanded to 8 AM – 10 PM,
6 days a week with classical music as the basic format.
Programs include news, locally produced talk, children’s
programs, women’s programs, as well as taped programs
from international sources.
||Frequency officially changed to 89.7. John Weiser
becomes station manager.
||Two WKSU-FM reporters travel to Washington, DC to
broadcast JFK’s funeral procession.
||Program hours expanded to 1 AM. “Fresh Air,”
a late night show focused on a progressive, eclectic
rock sound is introduced. Percentage of Portage County
homes with FM receivers grows from 1% in 1950 to 65%.
||Congress passes Public Broadcasting Act. The Corporation
for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is founded and funded
||Anti-war protests increase on KSU campus. During Spring
Quarter, a group of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society)
members (eventually called the “Kent 25”)
break into Music and Speech Building and attempt to
take over WKSU-FM. Attack is rebuffed when Weiser stands
outside the station entrance door while students call
police. Events reported as breaking news live on-air.
||CPB budgets funds for radio with the formation of
National Public Radio (NPR) being one result. WKSU-FM
broadcasts 90 hours a week. Student news staff prepares
on-the-scene reports as student protests over the U.S.
invasion of Cambodia lead to vandalism in Downtown Kent
and the burning of the campus ROTC Building on May 2.
On May 3 after the Governor calls in the National Guard
at the request of Kent’s Mayor, WKSU hosts a 5-hour
call-in show with protestors and University officials
as guests. The following day, May 4, WKSU reporters
cover a rally called for noon. Station continues to
issue updates as National Guard troops fire on the crowd,
killing 4 and wounding 9 others and the campus is evacuated
and placed under martial law. Station remains on-air
after the campus is immediately shut down for the summer,
offering updates and classical music daily from 8 AM
to 5 PM.
||John Perry joins Kent State University staff as an
instructor in the Broadcast program and assumes responsibility
for day-to-day station operations.
||WKSU power increased to 7500 watts.
||Perry named WKSU general manager. Station receives
HEW grant for $39,443.
||WKSU becomes NPR affiliate and “All Things Considered”
debuts on-air. Station administrative offices moved
to the fifth floor of Wright Hall. Radio studios remain
in Music and Speech. The station holds its first fund
drive, raising $5000 – half of which was donated
to victims of a devastating tornado in Xenia.
||Live broadcasts begin on WKSU of speakers from the
||WKSU adds NPR’s new “Morning Edition”
news program to the schedule.
||Power increased to 50,000 watts with the WKSU-FM tower
raised to 387 feet. Station links up with the WESTAR
I satellite, 22,000 miles in outer space, replacing
||Jim Blum hosts as WKSU originates the live national
broadcast of the National Folk Festival from the Cuyahoga
National Recreation Area (now National Park). Local
favorite, “The Benchbook” with Judge Jerry
||WKSU is the only NPR affiliate invited to cover the
National Folk Festival, part of the Statue of Liberty
Centennial Celebration, which is broadcast live from
New York City over nearly 100 radio stations.
||Administrative offices are moved to former Mexican
restaurant on E. Main St. and initiates a capital campaign
to raise $2.175 million to create a facility to consolidate
operations and broadcasting.
||Plans begin for new broadcast facility on KSU campus
at the corner of Loop Rd. and E. Summit St. Mark Urycki
produces “Remembering Kent State, 1970,”
a half-hour documentary using only archival sound and
interviews. The work wins Urycki a Scripps Howard Foundation
National Journalism Award.
||The Kresge Foundation awards WKSU a $100,000 challenge
||All WKSU-FM staffers, broadcast and administrative,
move into new building – reuniting after an 18-year
separation. The WKSU Broadcast Center is dedicated on
December 3 with a public open house.
||WKRW booster upgraded to repeater tower broadcasting
from 89.3 in Wooster. WKSU-FM wins the first of 4 FLO
Awards for best sounding public radio station from Public
Radio Program Directors, Inc. (PRPD).
|| WKSU launches wksu.org, becoming only the second
radio station, commercial or non-commercial, nationally
to stream live audio over the Internet. The station
adds a repeater tower in New Philadelphia broadcasting
at 91.5 WKRJ.
|| Permission granted by the FCC to move the main WKSU-FM
antenna to a tower in Copley Township operated by PBS
45 and 49. The WKSU web site premieres on-demand streaming
with Mark Urycki’s award-winning documentary “Remembering
Kent State, 1970.”
|| University Circle welcomes WKSU as the station broadcasts
live from the Parade the Circle Celebration for the
|| Station adds third repeater tower, taking WKSU programming
into Pennsylvania over 89.1 WKSV in Thompson.
||WKSU opens the Cleveland Bureau, staffed by Kevin
Niedermier, in the Halle Building in Playhouse Square.
||John Perry named Associate Vice President for University
Relations and Marketing for Kent State and Director
of Development Al Bartholet becomes Station Manager.
Kevin Niedermier wins WKSU’s first prestigious
national Gabriel Award from Unda-USA for “Chernobyl
||WKSU celebrates 50 years on-air with a year of activities,
culminating with a live broadcast of “A Prairie
Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor at Blossom
Music Center in June and a Homecoming banquet at the
Kent State Ballroom in October. Station assumes operations
responsibility for the Kent State Folk Festival. To
commemorate the 30th anniversary of the shootings on
May 4, 1970, Mark Urycki expands his documentary “Remembering
Kent State, 1970” to an hour. The revised works
receives a Sigma Delta Chi from the national Society
of Professional Journalists (SPJ). Urycki travels with
The Cleveland Orchestra on their annual European tour,
sending back stories produced on a laptop in his hotel
room to Kent via the Internet. The Walton D. Clarke
Founders Fund for WKSU is established to provide an
annual fellowship opportunity for Kent State graduate
||Bartholet is named WKSU’s fourth General Manager
following Perry’s retirement. The Ohio Chapter
of SPJ awards the WKSU newsroom its first nod as Best
News Operation in the state.
||WKSU adds the Stark/Wayne Counties News Bureau located
in the Canton Museum of Art in the Cultural Center for
the Arts. Perry named General Manager Emeritus. Urycki
wins WKSU’s first national Third Coast Festival
Award for radio documentary.
|| Dr. John Weiser dies at age 81 and Walton D. Clarke
dies at age 94. WKSU launches FolkAlley.com, a 24-hour
folk music Internet service. Local “Morning Edition”
host Leonard Will is inducted into the Press Club Journalism
Hall of Fame. WKSU-FM regional listeners top 200,000
for the first time.
||WKSU’s fourth repeater station, 90.7 WNRK Norwalk,
is added, bringing the station’s coverage area
to more than 20 counties and parts of Western Pennsylvania.
Kevin Niedermier and the WKSU Cleveland Bureau move to the WKYC broadcast center. The station adds dedicated online streams for news and classical music.
Boardman and Ashland gain low power translators, adding reach to WKSU's 5 towers.
WKSU introduces digital HD Radio sidestreams, adding Folk Alley and the all-classical stream as listening options.
Station enters into agreement with Western Reserve Public Media and WKYC and opens Akron Bureau in downtown United Building.
||WKSU Celebrates 60 years.