Early ‘Burg History


Since 1958, Central has had a radio station in one form or another, but it wasn’t until April 29th, 1962, that Central Washington College of Education obtained its FCC broadcast license for 91.5 FM. Roger Reynolds, assistant professor of Communications, was the station’s sole radio adviser from 1968 until 1984 (succeeding Professor John Hoglin).


KCWS was a non-commercial educational station funded jointly by the speech and drama department and the Services and Activities Fees Committee, which allocates funds every Biennium from student fees.

According to Reynolds, the broadcast license was allowed to expire without renewal in 1972, because nobody was listening to the station and the Services and Activities Fees Committee subsequently didn’t want to pay to keep it running. Programming for KCWS-FM was mostly classical music, talk and documentary programming which was not popular with the students.

Meanwhile, Central was also operating an AM radio station (KCAT, 880 AM) via carrier current transmission through the power lines. This made reception of the station possible by plugging in a radio receiver from anywhere on campus. Reynolds said he persuaded the students to convert this station to a commercial rock and roll operation, which made it extremely popular amongst the student body and brought in large sums of annual revenue.

1973

KCAT AM broadcast facility is moved to the SUB Lair, until temporarily destroyed by a fire in the Summer of 1976.

1980

KCAT switches from carrier current AM to an FM cable station, transmitting its signal through King Video Cable in Ellensburg.

1992

KCAT is officially separated from the CWU Communication Department curriculum due to faculty and budget constraints and the department’s focus on print, public relations, and video degrees.

1995

The CWU Service and Activities Fee Committee grants seed money to KCAT for the pursuit of an FCC broadcast license. KCAT also becomes an officially-recognized department of the CWU Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

1998

KCAT begins broadcasting live over the internet, gets an FCC construction permit to build an FM broadcast station with 500 Watts of power, gains a full-time General Manager for the first time in its history, and changes its call letters to “KCWU” in preparation for going on-the-air.

April 30, 1999

KCWU 88.1 FM The ‘Burg signs on-the-air at Noon, live from Ellensburg’s Rotary Pavilion at 4th and Pearl. CWU student Tom Johnston is the first on-air staff person to assume a live shift. KCWU-FM also gains a second full-time professional staff member in December, 1999.

October, 2001

KCWU-FM begins the Fireside Chat broadcast series, featuring (for the first time in the station’s history) live broadcasts from the CWU President’s home once every quarter. The broadcast occurs before a live studio audience of CWU students, and is designed as an intimate forum for them to discuss and address their concerns and issues to the President and the four University Vice Presidents in a very informative Q&A format. This is also the month when “Rock Night with The ‘Burg” now known as “Alley Ice with The ‘Burg,” was implemented as a live music and contest broadcast from the local Rodeo Bowl bowling alley every Wednesday night from 9pm to Midnight.

2002

KCWU-FM removes its internet broadcast stream in response to proposed legislation that would impose additional royalty fees and stringent content tracking requirements.

2003

KCWU-FM successfully passes inspection by the WSAB as part of their voluntary inspection program. This certifies compliance with FCC broadcast and operational regulations. This is also the year that notable planning work begins, in preparation for the station’s occupation of the new Student Union and Recreation Center facility.

March 6, 2006

KCWU-FM temporarily suspends live talent as they transition into their new state-of-the-art facility in the new SUB/Recreation Facility on Central Washington University.

August 3, 2006

At 5:26 PM, KCWU-FM first launches automated on-air audio from its new main broadcast studio (Room 125) of the new Student Union and Recreation Center facility, using the all-new Axia Ethernet audio system.

September 22nd, 2006

DJJDSoup and the House Special become the first live show to officially broadcast from the new studio.

January 13th 2011

DJs Big Joe and Holly Oldschool of Music 101 broadcast live via the station’s Ustream channel. The show debuted with 120 unique viewers.