KGOU celebrates quarter century as NPR source station

An open house 6 p.m. Friday and staff and volunteer reunion 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in KGOU’s new campus studio in Copeland Hall will celebrate the public radio station’s first 25 years.

Before going public in 1983, KGOU had been a commercial, University of Oklahoma campus rock station since 1970. But a committee concerned about its purpose led to the switch to an “NPR (National Public Radio) source,” as its tagline goes today.

While some students decried the switch, in five years’ time there was a new challenge. When Karen Holp became station manager in 1988, she heard of Norman listeners en route to Oklahoma City saying, “I can drive a stake by the side of the road where I lose the signal of KGOU.”

“Listeners were adamant that they wanted the service,” she said.

The university applied for a license to transmit from Spencer; it came through in 1993, allowing OKC residents to tune in.

“That was a great moment,” she said. “It was the biggest thing KGOU had undertaken.”

In 2006, KGOU moved to updated studios, and last year, began broadcasting to Seminole and Ada, as well.

What does the future hold for the station that, in the last decades, has gone from 9,000 listeners a week and raising $4,000 to two transmitters, two translators, more than 50,000 listeners and nearly $400,000 raised annually?

One thing is certain, Holp said: Listeners will tune in for the message that “makes them happy.”

“Content’s king,” she said. “Emily Jerman 

Emily Jerman

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