KSDB-FM kicks off year-long 70th anniversary celebration

Attendees of KSDB-FM 91.9's 70th anniversary celebration watched the band Readhouse while enjoying chips and guac. (Peter Loganbill | Collegian Media Group)

KSDB-FM 91.9 started a year-long celebration of the station’s 70th anniversary on Friday in the K-State Student Union. The event was also the soft launch for their new name, “Wildcat 91.9.”

“The idea of celebrating a 70th anniversary is one we didn’t rush into and we’re not rushing through it either,” said Ian Punnett, professor of practice and chief operator of KSDB. “We didn’t shoot for, like, a one day event where we all sit up and say, ‘Hey, we’re 70 years old.’ We’re taking a year to celebrate it and we’re celebrating various milestones along the way. Today is the soft launch for the 70th anniversary celebration in that we’re rolling out some of the early prototypes for the new logo change.”

The name change is a throwback the station’s old name. Sara Wallace, junior in journalism and KSDB music director, said the station wants to preserve a sound unique to campus.

“We’re honing into a college sound,” Wallace said. “Our roots of it. It’s kind of a legacy. Our new phrase is ‘new music now.’ You’ll hear that a lot if you listen in. I insert and play new music every week. We make sure we have a fresh sound in, but it’s also very unique. We play hip-hop at night and alternative in the evenings and the mornings. No other station does that.”

As the music director, Wallace said she tries to play new music that wouldn’t otherwise be heard.

“The college format is very unique to our legacy in the sense that our alternative isn’t something that you would hear on an alternative station in Wichita, where it’s like dad rock alternative, because they’re portraying to a certain audience because it’s commercial,” Wallace said. “We’re not commercial and so we like to portray to the college students, and what’s good to these artists that may not even be signed.”

Punnett said the student radio station, which went on the air for the first time in 1949, appears to be the longest running in the country.

“As far as anybody can determine, KSDB-FM is the longest continuously running radio station on any college campus in America,” Punnett said. “My guess is the world, but I don’t know how ever we could confirm the world. Putting radio stations on college campuses really was cutting edge back 70 years ago. That’s what we can verify. … It grew, it changed transmitters, it moved to [Nichols Hall], it eventually came to [McCain Auditorium]. It’s gone through a lot of changes, but it all starts in 1949 in one form or another.”

Throughout its 70th year, the radio station will keep the old name to see if it catches on and will also continue to host similar events.

“I think the kids are doing an amazing job,” Punnett said. “They embraced the idea of a name change. They have gone out of their way to be involved in every aspect of this 70th celebration.”

My name is Bailey Britton and I am the former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I have been the assistant news editor and the managing editor. I have also interned for the Manhattan Mercury and the Colby Free Press. I grew up in Colby, Kansas, and I am a junior in journalism and English. Through the Collegian, I aim to provide the K-State community with quality news coverage while we learn to serve our campus.