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KMUW History

Jordan Kirtley / KMUW

KMUW celebrated 70 years in 2019. Help us continue to ensure the future of public radio for decades to come by making a donation.

Credit Wichita State University, Parnassus, 1949
A page from Wichita State University's yearbook detailing the beginning of KMUW in 1949.

April 26, 1949: KMUW begins broadcasting as the first 10-watt noncommercial FM station in the United States, the first noncommercial FM station in the state of Kansas and the second FM station in the state.

March 1962: KMUW increases its power to 250 watts (ERP).

August 1, 1970: KMUW hires its first full-time manager with grant money received from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Credit Wichita State University, Parnassus, 1971
Cliff Hall, operations manager, and Frank Kelley, director of broadcasting in 1971.

October 29, 1970: KMUW increases its power to 10,000 watts (ERP) and relocates its transmitter to the KTVH-TV (now KWCH-TV) facilities at 37th Street North and Hillside.

May 1, 1971: KMUW carries the first broadcasts of National Public Radio, as a charter member and affiliate of that new and interconnected network of noncommercial radio stations.

Credit Wichita State University, Parnassus, 1982
KMUW staff and students pose outside Blake Hall in 1982. Pictured: Lance Hayes (back, left) and Pat Hayes (front, left).

September 23, 1973: KMUW begins broadcasting in stereo, through all-new studio equipment purchased with funds received from an HEW matching grant.

March 27, 1981: KMUW dedicates Blake Hall at 3317 East 17th Street, which served as our home until April 24, 2016.

KMUW celebrates 45 years in 1994. Pictured: Roger Cornish (in yellow) and Pat Hayes (front right).

September 1, 1987: KMUW increases its power to 100,000 watts, effectively serving a 60-mile radius around metro Wichita.

September 1, 1994: KMUW becomes an affiliate of Public Radio International (PRI). Along with NPR, PRI produces the bulk of nationally-distributed programs heard on public radio station across the country.

The lobby of the new KMUW, located at 121 N. Mead, Suite 200, in Wichita's Old Town, photographed in 2016.

2008: KMUW completes the Signal Expansion Project doubling the height of the antenna and building a new green transmitter facility.  

April 22, 2009: KMUW's 60th anniversary celebration gets underway with an event at WSU Hughes Metroplex featuring NPR's Cokie Roberts.

Credit Jordan Kirtley
Science Friday live at the Orpheum Theatre in Wichita

April 25, 2016: KMUW moved into our present studios at WSU Old Town, 121 N. Mead, Suite 200.

September 9, 2017: KMUW presents Science Friday at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Wichita, Kansas.

Linda Gregory
Bill Kurtis at KMUW's 2018 Media Circus

September 14, 2017: Our partners at King Solar install solar panels on our roof, helping to reduce our energy use and carbon footprint. The array is 5Kw (kilowatt), and we average 28kWh (kilowatt hours) on a sunny day, which is just enough power to handle our Master Control room, the satellite receivers and audio servers that directly air our programming.

August 15, 2018: Bill Kurtis, judge and scorekeeper of NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, joined KMUW at our inaugural Media Circus fundraising event.

Linda Gregory
Korva Coleman at KMUW's 2019 Media Circus

April 26, 2019: In honor of KMUW's 70th anniversary, the city of Wichita declares April 26, 2019 as KMUW Day with a formal proclamation delivered by Councilwoman Cindy Claycomb.

June 29, 2019: NPR newscaster Korva Coleman joined KMUW as the host of our annual fundraising gala Media Circus. This event is the catalyst that launched KMUW's continued partnership with Coleman for KMUW's Korva Coleman Diversity in Journalism Internship.

2021: In its 72nd year, KMUW is honored with Large Market Station of the Year by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters for the eighth year in a row.

More KMUW History: