Records of Radio, TV, and Film at the University of Kansas
This record group includes records and photographs related to the various radio, television, and film stations and production companies that have been assocaited with the University of Kansas over the years. These include in particular the student-produced radio station 90.7, KJHK, as well as the National Public Radio-affiliated station KANU, the flagship station for Kansas Public Radio (KPR).
- Creation: 1923-2019 (bulk 1950s-1980s)
Conditions Governing Access
Some records in this record group will require permission from the office of origin before use. Personnel and student records are closed in accordance with applicable law. All requests are subject to review by the Archives staff to determine accessibility.
Conditions Governing Use
Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.
History of radio, TV, and film at the University of Kansas
This record group focuses on two aspects of audiovisual production at the University of Kansas: firstly, the four KU radio stations that have variously run from 1924 to the present, and secondly the KU TV station founded in 1995.
KU radio, TV, and film programs have been under several different authorities throughout the years. The student-run radio stations operated under the School of Journalism until 2003, but the administrative structures for the faculty-run stations are more complicated. From 1924 to 1951, the university’s sole station, KFKU, was under the authority of a program director; however, in 1951 the university founded a new Radio-TV-Film Division that would oversee curriculum and radio/TV programming.
The first KU radio station to broadcast from university equipment was KFKU in 1924. KFKU focused on education programming and was overseen by the first general director of radio programming, Harold G. Ingham. It was the first known radio station in the nation to offer a course, Education Psychology, over the radio. However, KFKU’s signal was extremely weak, and the station experienced interference issues from other stations on the same bandwidth. The radio courses were cancelled in less than a year. For most of its lifetime, starting in 1928, KFKU would share airtime with the then-Lawrence-based station WREN. Between this lack of airtime (by the time of its demise, KFKU only operated for 30 minutes a day) and competition from other university radio stations, KFKU eventually shut down in 1987.
In 1951, while KFKU was under the leadership of program director Mildred Seaman, the university founded a radio division to oversee KFKU and a new public radio station to be based at KU. The first head of the radio division was Edwin Browne. In 1952, the National Public Radio (NPR) charter station KANU began broadcasting. While the Lawrence-based KANU retains this identification, in 2002 it also rebranded itself as Kansas Public Radio (KPR) in order to better represent its entire broadcast area, which has included Junction City, Emporia, and Atchison, as well as stations in Chanute, Manhattan, and Olsburg.
From the inception of KU's radio stations and the beginning interests in educational television (ETV) in the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was no clear governance structure for both. By the mid-1950s, KU administration decided that professional training in radio broadcast, including in engineering and marketing and sales, would be through the William Allen White School of Journalism, while the Speech and Drama Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences could continue offering courses in radio broadcasting. In 1955, Bruce Linton was hired with a joint appointment in Journalism and Speech and to serve as chair of the Radio and Television Committee.
Later in the 1950s, faculty and students produced short television programs for WIBW in Topeka, and by 1958 a Television-Film Center was created under the auspices of the Radio TV (RTV) Committee. By the 1970s the committee was called the Radio-TV-Film (RTVF) Committee, and the program continued to be interdisciplinary between the School of Journalism and the Speech and Drama Department. Organizationally, the RTVF program struggled with fitting into the larger administrative structures in both the Journalism school and the College throughout the 1970s into the 1980s, with responsibilities for running radio and television stations, creating films, and teaching students in all these areas. With Chairman Bruce Linton's resignation in 1984, the performance and film aspects of the RTVF program were transferred outright to the College's Department of Dramatic Arts, and the other components related to radio and television broadcasting and production remained in the School of Journalism.
KU has also had two student-run radio stations. KUOK, an AM station only accessible in the dorms, was founded in 1956 before eventually being replaced by the FM station KJHK in 1975. While both stations were student-run and under the purview of the School of Journalism, KJHK is unique because it was the first known student-run FM radio station. KJHK soon made its reputation as a station spotlighting alternative and progressive music, a choice that would prove popular but also cause conflict with KU faculty over the years. In 1986, KJHK was the target of a sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit after it cut airtime for a feminist music program called “Womonsong.” The matter was ultimately resolved in mediation, but controversy would continue to hound the station, and in 1988 university faculty would briefly take control of the station, until student backlash forced them to reverse course. In 2003, the station moved from the School of Journalism to the KU Memorial Union due to budgetary issues.
The record group also contains several boxes of student film scripts and information about the student TV station broadcast on KUJH. Under the purview of the School of Journalism, KUJH is a student-run TV station founded in 1995, one of the first online news television stations in the U.S. For the first decade of its life, KUJH broadcast student-created independent films, but this activity ended in 2005. KUJH still operates today.
[Information retrieved from collection materials, KU websites, and Linton, Bruce A., "Radio-Television-Film at the University of Kansas 1955-1984: A History and Personal Rellection," October 1998, available at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at RG 40/0/1.]
40 Linear Feet (47 boxes + 3 oversize folders)
Language of Materials
Scope and Contents
The University of Kansas has been operating radio stations since 1924 and started a TV station in 1995. This record group contains records of the activities of these stations, especially focusing on radio broadcasts: program logs, newscast scripts, and other internal documents for KU student radio make up several boxes.
The record group also includes correspondence and administrative documents, such as budget requests, that paint a rich picture of the stations' history. While most of the documents are related to student activities, such as the student radio station, there is also information about Radio-Television-Film (RTVF) classes, including some information about course planning and curriculum.
The record group also contains extensive information about KU student films, including several boxes of film scripts.
- Guide to the Records of Radio, TV, and Film at the University of Kansas
- Records of Radio, TV, and Film at the University of Kansas
- Finding aid prepared by jb, 2022. Finding aid encoded by mwh, 2022. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2023.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Finding aid written in English.
- Finding aid permalink
- Preferred citation
Records of Radio, TV, and Film at the University of Kansas, RG 40, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas