Senate Decides K-UTE’s Fate Tonight

Tiffin Brough is an Asian Studies major who has been at the U for four years. Now in her senior year, she says that without K-UTE she never would have applied to the U.

“When I started applying for colleges, I made sure each one had a radio station. Without K-UTE, I wouldn’t have come here,” Brough said.

Tonight, the Student Senate will vote on a bill that, if passed, would eliminate a 14-year-old clause that gives student radio station K-UTE 2 percent of the student activity fee?which amounts to about $20,000 per year.

If the Senate decides to pass the bill, it could mark the end of student radio at the U, a tradition that spans nearly 50 years.

At some colleges, student radio is an essential part of campus life. At the U, however, K-UTE AM 1620 has waved the banner of the struggling station no one listens to for years. Because K-UTE’s transmitter is so weak, commuters can’t receive its broadcasts at home or in their vehicles, where most radio listening takes place.

Although the approximately 2,300 who live in Heritage Commons housing can receive K UTE programming, most chose not to listen, according to Curtis Grow, associate director of the Office of Residential Living.

However, some K-UTE proponents say the station’s value goes beyond mere listenership.

Roots of U College Radio

Gene Pack has been at KUER since its inception in 1959. KUER now broadcasts out of the Eccles Broadcasting Center, and is an affiliate of National Public Radio and Public Radio International. When Pack attended the U as a student, K-UTE was not yet in existence.

“I was part of what was called University Broadcasters in 1960. Basically, we spent a year working to be ready to go on air when KUER went on the air in 1960,” Pack said.

Currently the arts director at KUER, Pack spent almost 30 years as the director and host of a classical music show. He said student radio is vital for every student, regardless of his or her major.

“I think it’s important that students learn about programming and communication, and student radio is a great way to do that?I learned a great deal as a student. The experience I got really helped a lot,” Pack said.

Like Gene Pack, Ed Yeates got his start at KUER in the early 1960s. Yeates has spent the past 30 years at KSL TV Channel 5 and is currently the station’s science reporter.

“Some of the very elementary production techniques of editing I learned at KUER. That’s where it all began,” Yeates said. He also said that his experiences at KUER helped him get his first job at local radio station, KBBC, and that “getting skills early on allowed me to show them off later.”

Yeates agrees with Pack as to the importance of student radio.

“Student radio is invaluable. It gives students a chance to be a participant in the campus community,” Yeates said.

Story of Success

Gary Chidester has been the faculty adviser at Snow College’s KAGJ since 1992. Located in Ephraim, about an hour south of Provo, Snow has a student body of about 2,500 and boasts the only local radio station in the area.

Established in 1952, KAGJ was the first FM educational radio station in the state. Though it was off the air from 1978 until 1994, Chidester says that today, KAGJ is important for both the community and the college, transmitting many public service announcements.

KAGJ involves 60 to 80 students per semester, all of whom receive college credit for their participation.

In addition, the eight senior student staff members receive a 50 percent tuition waiver.

Chidester said his station has had funding problems in the past, and until last fall, was funded by the administration and members of the student government.

Beginning last fall, each student started paying $1.00 per semester for KAGJ. Now the station receives $5,000 per year and is supported by the community and the administration.

“I’d say we’re fairly on the cutting edge in terms of the technology we use,” Chidester said. The station, which operates seven days a week and 24 hours a day, is able to continue its programming in the summer, because all of the station’s music is on computers.

Chidester said that the most important facet of KAGJ is the experience and service it provides to students.

“I think one of the biggest things is that it gives students an opportunity to try hands-on broadcasting?it gives students an avenue to find out what’s happening on campus,” he said.

Wake-up Call for K-UTE

Brough, a K-UTE broadcaster, addressed student issues and lecture series on her show last year. She says that K-UTE has been crucial for her, both socially and personally.

“K-UTE gives me an excuse to talk to random people who I never would’ve approached otherwise. It’s really opened quite a few doors for me,” she said.

With KAGJ operating successfully on $5,000 a year, members of the Associated Students of the University of Utah feel that K-UTE could do the same.

Though Brough feels that even $20,000 is not enough for the station to survive on, she understands the motives behind ASUU’s decision.

“I think that the money could be used more wisely. I agree with the members of ASUU. I think their decision served as a wake-up call for K-UTE,” Brough said.

Sen. Sam Swenson, humanities, said at an April 11 meeting that ASUU is not cutting K-UTE out of its “funding family, just taking away words in a document.”

If K-UTE loses its 2 percent student activity fee, it would still be eligible to receive up to $8,000 per year.

Brough is hosting a music show this year, and does not address the student issues she once did, but she’s still active in the campus issues she once tackled on her show. She has considered her time and service at K-UTE as a vital learning tool.

“One thing I’ve learned is that people want to talk about things they’re involved with. Learning that has been an incredible gain,” she said.

Brough said she’d like to see K UTE grow in the future, noting “it has so much potential.”

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