30 years of KJHK: Meredith Vacek

KJHK station manager and production director, 2001-05

Former KJHK station manager and highly regarded DJ Meredith Vacek is living in Seattle and loving it. After graduating from Kansas University and leaving her beloved radio station behind, Vacek moved to Seattle to begin her new career with the International Rescue Committee. Using some of the skills she developed from her time at the station, Vacek does promotions, public relations, development and grant writing for the committee and says she really enjoys her work. As well as her work with the committee, Vacek volunteers with the promotions staff at the local Seattle station KEXP, and hopes to continue working her way up to having a music show.

Vacek recalls her four years with the station and is very grateful since she was hired directly because of her KJHK experience. "During my interview the station was mentioned frequently, and they were very interested in my leadership position, as well as my experience in development and promotions," Vacek said.

She thinks about her experience at KJHK very frequently and fondly.

"I came to KU not really knowing what I was doing, and I wouldn't have felt as invested in the university if it weren't for KJ," Vacek said.

Working for the station not only gave her motivation, but she took away many important friendships and community connections, while learning relevant skills to her future.

The most memorable KJHK moment, or time period in this case, for Vacek was in 2003 while she was the station manager. At the time there was some talk of shutting down the station, and things were very close to the end for KJHK, but Vacek stuck it out, scrambling around with then-KJHK advisor Gary Hawke.

"Not many people knew about the situation at the time, and I was really freaked when I heard the news," Vacek said. "I knew that KJ was too important to the university and the Lawrence community, so we had to do everything we could to fight for it."

Vacek remembers looking at all of the old concert posters in the bathroom at the shack and noticing the dates, she had never realized that around that time was when one of the KJHK jocks in 1976 began playing new wave music. It was because of this station that Lawrence was introduced to the underground music scene.

"All of a sudden people were hearing the music on KJ, buying the CDs and then before they knew it, bands from England were coming to play in little Lawrence, Kansas," Vacek said.

As Vacek holds her time at KJHK dearly, she continues to tune in online to hear the risk-taking, cutting edge sounds of a station that was once resting on her shoulders, while recommending it to everyone in Seattle. "I never imagined that I could even have the opportunity to work for what is known as the freshest college radio station in the nation, let alone run the station as a student," Vacek said. "There was a time that I lived and breathed KJ, it was all I ever thought about; I still listen online and I always will."


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