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Hastings College Radio Station KFKX to Leave the Air on Thursday

We first reported back on May 16, that plans were in the works for college radio station KFKX 90.1 FM at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska to leave the air. Well, the day has come this Thursday, June 30th. Over the weekend, alumni came back to celebrate the station (see video here) and prior to that, several expressed their sadness over the loss of radio at Hastings.

It turns out that radio has had a long history in Hastings, Nebraska. According to a piece in the Hastings Tribune, Westinghouse launched a station in 1923 with the call letters KFKX and even broadcast a Hastings College football game in 1924. The short-lived station lasted until 1927.

The KFKX call letters, however, returned in the 1980s when Hastings College launched a carrier current station. The Hastings Tribune writes,

Those call letters remained dormant until 1988 when Hastings College added a radio station to its journalism program with the opening of the Gray Center for the Communication Arts. Many remember it as the day President Ronald Reagan, who was on hand for the building’s dedication, said ‘Radio station KFKX is on the air.’ In those days, KFKX was a carrier current station that delivered music, news and public affairs programming to the dorms and other college buildings through the electrical lines. ‘If you plugged in a radio in any jack, you could get the station,’ said Sharon Brooks, a Hastings College professor who oversaw the radio station. ‘It worked very nicely.’ In 1997, the college decided to get a license and operate over the airwaves and that’s when 90.1 KFKX was born.”

And, now, in 2016, 20 years after its call letters were assigned, KFKX will cease to exist. The college plans to shut down the FM station and there are no plans for it to even continue as a streaming radio station. Audio production classes will remain. Over the weekend, alumni came by to say farewell to the station and were also invited to submit audio content to be aired this week. A special KFKX T-shirt (with an image of Ronald Reagan wearing headphones on it) was also designed to commemorate the student radio legacy from 1988 to 2016. The Hastings Tribune reports that, “The radio station held a special alumni weekend event Saturday with KFKX alumni coming back for live and pre-recorded shows, which will run through the last day.”

On June 21, Hastings College filed a Notice of Suspension of Operations with the FCC. Its request states, “Hastings College will terminate broadcast operations for radio station KFKX-FM on June 30, 2016 as the college contemplates the future of the radio station. Hastings College is no longer certain that the radio station should be part of its academic world. The sale of the radio station is also being considered. It is certain that beginning June 30, 2016 radio station KFKX-FM will go silent for more than 30 days. Therefore, this silent status STA request is necessary.”

I’m always sad to see another station leaving the air and will hold out hope that the school decides to hang onto the license for a bit longer and reconsiders it decision to discontinue all radio on campus, as that would truly be a shame.


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