2001
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KRRC picture

KRRC picture

KRRC picture

KRRC titleA remarkably cooperative spirit prevailed during the station’s first year, with students, faculty, and staff working side by side to make the station function as smoothly as its limited resources would allow. John Hancock, then assistant professor of chemistry, served as station manager and alumni director Carleton Whitehead dealt with FCC red tape, while students built equipment, handled programming, and scrounged for donations. Dean of women Ann Shepard went so far as to bend visitation rules to allow women to be in the station area after hours.

An Oregonian article in 1958 noted that “austerity vies with ingenuity” in KRRC’s studio in the basement of Doyle, where “egg cases and an old ice box play important roles in achieving a high quality of low fidelity.” Despite its many technical limitations, KRRC managed to broadcast almost continually until October 1959, when the transmitter broke down completely, forcing KRRC to suspend operations for a month. Breakdowns have continued to plague the station throughout its history, and the station’s fate often balanced precariously on the brink of technical disaster. For example, in a letter to a colleague in early 1961, Hancock wrote that the station had been shut down since the previous May and “it appears that the days of the FM are numbered.” Three months later, Carleton Whitehead wrote to Robert Richer ’51, then a member of the radio board, that “it is tentatively reported that KRRC-FM is firmly back on the air.”

In 1979-80 another technical nightmare emerged when KRRC’s frequency was bumped by another, more powerful station, forcing Radio Reed to build new equipment, including an antenna, and to reapply for FCC approval. Amazingly, although the students lost their battle to build a 130-foot antenna tower at the east end of the campus, once again the station survived and in 1981 began broadcasting at 104.1 FM, where it has remained on the air almost continuously until last May.

“On the air” is a relative term when it comes to KRRC’s broadcasting range. Since the FM station made its first broadcast, the problem of how far the signal could transmit was a source of great frustration to those who wanted the voice of Reed to reach a broader audience. Several different antennae were erected from time to time over the years, mainly on the roof of the Doyle dor-mitory, but none had the ability to broadcast much farther than a one-mile radius. A 1994 Quest article provided a “how-to” guide to receiving the KRRC signal from outside a 10-block radius of the station, and a recent Quest article notes that the signal barely extends past Old Dorm Block. The limited range has, on the other hand, has allowed student DJs to take full advantage of their right to freedom of expression without fear of getting into FCC hot water.

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2001