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In 1944, KRCC began as a two-room public address system in the basement of Bemis Hall. Professor Woodson “Chief” Tyree, Director of Radio and Drama Department at Colorado College was the founder and inspirational force in the program that one day became KRCC-FM. In 1946, KRCC moved to South Hall (where Packard Hall now stands) on campus where two students, Charles “Bud” Edmonds ’51, and Margaret Merle-Smith ’51, were instrumental in securing a war surplus FM transmitter. KRCC began over the air broadcasting in April of 1951 as the first non-commercial educational FM radio station in the state of Colorado.
Broadcasts were primarily on evenings and weekends for the purpose of training 30 students each year. Professor Tyree retired in 1968, and with his retirement radio and speech courses at Colorado College were dropped from the curriculum. Today, KRCC operates with a unique collaboration of broadcast professionals, students, and community volunteers dedicated to providing our audience throughout southern Colorado the very best programming public radio has to offer.
Students then took over the extra-curricular operation of KRCC with an appointed faculty advisor. In 1972, a 1000-watt transmitter was installed which effectively opened the doors of Colorado College radio to the surrounding community. KRCC’s student staff ended the “students only” policy in 1977/78, opening the microphones to community members of all ages, interests, and walks of life. Students interested in the potential of KRCC initiated an ad-hoc committee to develop options which would best serve the public as a community service of the college. The committee sought and won approval for upgrading KRCC to a National Public Radio (NPR) member station. In June of 1984, KRCC moved out of Rastall Center and into its own studio building (which was entirely remodeled by volunteers), constructed the facilities to broadcast from Cheyenne Mountain and the Manitou Springs translator, and by Fall began airing NPR news.
The next big step began with a grant to build translator stations serving Westcliffe and Gardner, and another for Buena Vista, Salida, and Villa Grove – these were finished in 1989. Additionally, discussions were starting about long term interest in news production at KRCC. On Valentine’s Day, 1992, we moved the station into its current studio building at 912 N. Weber Street.
In recent years, we’ve concentrated on extending the signal to un-served communities throughout southern Colorado via a network of translators. As of 1999, the network was heard in Westcliffe, Gardner, Limon, Manitou Springs, Trinidad, Buena Vista, Salida, Villa Grove, Canon City and Raton, NM. The year 2000, heralded a new era by the completion of a repeater station for KRCC in the city of La Junta – KECC 89.1 FM.
On Janaury 1, 2005 at 4pm. KRCC’s dream of local began in the form of a weekly news magazine called Western Skies. Two years later, Western Skies evolved into KRCC Local News with daily news segments during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
On July 1, 2006, Mario Valdes’ employment at KRCC ended. Later that month, he was diagnosed with cancer. KRCC’s longtime office manager, Delaney Utterback, became the next station manager. Utterback’s accession to the post had been planned for many years by Valdes.
On September 14, 2007, former station manager, Mario Benedict Valdes, died. Mario started at KRCC in 1979. He became the first paid employee & station manager in 1980 and first full time employee in 1983.
In January of 2008, KRCC completed the installation of HD broadcasting equipment and upgraded its signal to HD, including multi-casts with two additional channels of programming on HD2 and HD3, in addition to an HD simulcast of the main channel. HD2 is a mix of national news and music programs. HD3 is a Colorado College student-run station called the SOCC, or Sounds of Colorado College.