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Kansas Public Radio. Established: September 15, 1952, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas.

KANU signed on the air on September 15, 1952, as a noncommercial station. The station was located at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, similar to most noncommercial radio stations associated with colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. KANU broadcasts at 100,000 watts on the FM band, 91.5 megahertz.

KANU’s first show, Opera Is My Hobby, was hosted by Dr. James Seaver. The program is still on the air and is the second longest-running public radio show in the nation.

In 1955 the station began daily broadcasts from 1 to 11 p.m.; morning broadcasts followed in 1960. In 1985 the station was broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In 1959 the station began airing The Jazz Scene with Dick Wright. A charter member of the National Public Radio, KANU was one of 90 stations to carry the initial broadcast of All Things Considered in 1971. The Audio Reader service was added in 1971 as a sub-carrier of the station. The service provided news to people with disabilities. In 1974 the station received a Peabody Award for Meritorious Service for its program, The American Past, with host Calder Pickett.

In December 1982 vandals brought down the KANU tower. The station was forced to operate with limited resources, causing a significant financial strain. The Audio Reader service went off line and was many months before the station was fully restored. On June 15, 1991, a lightning strike started a fire that destroyed offices and archival material such as rare photos and tapes.

The station’s programming is a mixture of classical music, National Public Radio news, jazz, folk/bluegrass music, and local information. KANU received its first Non-Commercial Station of the Year award from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters in 1996.

In 2003 KANU became Kansas Public Radio, eventually reaching to Atchison, Chanute, Emporia, Manhattan, and Olsburg. The station later added high definition radio to its offerings.

KPR was named Jazz Station of the Year by Jazz Week magazine’s readers in 2006. The station has presented broadcasts with featured speakers such as Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Entry: KANU

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2016

Date Modified: September 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.