30 years of KJHK: Redux by Nicole Vap

Monday, October 10, 2005

I have very fond memories of KJHK. I first worked as a writer/reporter for the news department during my junior year. The first story I actually went out of the building on -- I was attacked by the gym owner I was interviewing. He took my tape recorder, took the tape out, then threw the recorder back at me! It was crazy. I went back to the station and they were totally freaked. As you might imagine, that doesn't happen very often at KJ.

That spring I applied for and got the job of student station manager. I had no idea what I was in for. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and one of the hardest.

I started working in radio at age 15, and had worked at several different stations (including KLWN/KLZR). I started as student station manager shortly after the FCC fined the University when a DJ said "f-you Billy Tubbs" on the air after the Jayhawks won the National Championship. The administration had to clean up the station, to ensure they were not violating any FCC regulations or the iniversity was going to lose the station. A lot was at stake. I wanted to make sure that the station was able to continue its main purpose as a learning tool for student broadcasters.

I was a journalism student and the thought of losing the only practical teaching venue for broadcast (for TV and radio students - that was before the university had its own TV station) was frightening. I went to KU to get a good education, and I wanted to be sure that future students were able to continue getting that excellent education. That is why I applied for the position and that was my goal as student station manager.

As you might imagine, I was seen as a "corporate" type who was out to further the "administration takeover" of the station. That was the view of the music side of the station. I know this because during my first station manager's meeting, they went around the room and told me that one by one. It was horrifying. I told them my goals and we moved forward.

One day I heard on the station a DJ promoting a huge rally in Kansas City of a group of former KJHK workers who were fighting the censorship at the station. So, a friend of mine and I showed up. One by one the speakers talked about how the administration was censoring music and DJs, and they talked about how horrible I was and that I was a part of the problem. I don't know how I got up the nerve to stand up and told them who I was, but I did. I am sure I didn't say anything to change their minds about me, but it felt good to say I was there and how they were wrong just the same.

The experience prepared me for my future career. It toughened me up, and gave me some real-world management experience. I don't think I will ever have a job I love more or have a harder job in my life (except being a parent).

The best part of being a part of KJHKÃ-s history was the experience of meeting all of the hard working people who have helped or continue to make it what it is today. Everyone who has ever stepped foot in the door of that great little old building has passion for the station and its potential. People have spent 30 years pouring sweat and tears into that place. The battles we fought 15 years ago are what broadcasters are battling now - the balance between free speech and what the government thinks broadcasters should be able to say to a wide audience. It is a good argument to be a part of, a good fight to take on, and KJHK was a great place to get a start.