KUNC: Decades on the Mountain Airwaves

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After its years of evolution, KUNC settles into its new home serving Colorado's eastern plains and mountain communities.

As the 1960s came to a close, KUNC began broadcasting as a 10W student station on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado. By the mid 1970s, the station had evolved into a Class A, 3kW station, and was Colorado's first radio station to become a member of National Public Radio. The early 1980s KUNC became a Class C1 station. It was during this period that KUNC began to grow its network of translator stations in order to serve listeners on Colorado's eastern plains and in the mountain communities.

The talk studio and control room during KUNC's summer drive.

The talk studio and control room during KUNC's summer drive.

For most of my career, I worked for commercial stations in Colorado and Wyoming, but in 2000 was hired as chief engineer for KUNC. In early 2001, the University of Northern Colorado announced that they had reached an agreement with Colorado Public Radio, a statewide public radio network in Denver, to purchase the station. This agreement needed approval from the UNC Board of Trustees. An open meeting was held the next day. Impassioned KUNC supporters pleaded with the Trustees to give them time to raise money in order to buy the station. The trustees relented, and gave KUNC supporters less than a month to submit a counter proposal. A local group organized and raised more than two million dollars to buy the station and retain KUNC's local independence. Community Radio for Northern Colorado was born in March 2001, with the first order of business to move off campus. KUNC settled into a high-rise office building in downtown Greeley, CO. In 2007, KUNC moved its main transmitter from a site north of Greeley to Buckhorn Mountain, just west of Fort Collins, CO. This move added nearly one million people to KUNC's city-grade 60dBu coverage area, which includes the metro Denver area.

Just the right size

In early 2010 our lease in the downtown high-rise office building was about to expire and KUNC needed more room. The building owners could not fulfill our needs, which prompted a search for a new space. We wanted to find a location that had enough room for present needs and future growth, and a space that required very little remodeling. Engineering also had specific needs, including good line of site to the transmitter for the STL, and enough space with an unobstructed southerly look angle for KUNC's 3.7m satellite downlink and 2.4m satellite uplink. After careful consideration, the perfect location was found. An accounting firm previously occupied KUNC's new home. It had offices just the right size for studios, equipment and staff members. It also had a number of rooms that could be easily remodeled and soundproofed for studios, great line of site to the transmitter and ample room for the satellite antennas. The new location also had its own walk-in entrance, plenty of parking for staff and guests, and a great view of Colorado's Front Range Mountains to the west. It had everything KUNC was looking for! The lease was signed.

The talk studio and control room during KUNC's summer drive, from the talk side.

The talk studio and control room during KUNC's summer drive, from the talk side (Jamie Wood and Neil Best pitching, Erin O'Toole producing).

KUNC looked at quite a number of options when considering equipment needs. The old location had an on-air studio, a fully equipped production studio, and another small, very basic production studio. We looked at all of the different console manufacturers, with the need to completely equip four studios. Budget was also a consideration. KUNC had been using the Revolution console made by Arrakis for our on-air studio since moving from the UNC campus in 2000. This console has been an extremely reliable workhorse with very few problems over its 10 years in service. A quick check of the Arrakis catalog revealed this console still in production. The Revolution console has 12 analog and 12 digital inputs, as well as a host of other features including solid mix-minus buses for the telephone hybrid and a modular design with a separate console engine for ease of installation. Best of all, the Revolution console cost less than many of the competitor's analog-only consoles. It was a real value! The decision was made to equip all four of KUNC's new studios with the Revolution console. Three new consoles were purchased and the on-air console from the old location was moved to the new studios. The producers and on-air folks all like working with the Revolution consoles. They particularly like that they all look and operate the same.

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