Boosting the signal

KRUA, the student-run radio station at the University of Alaska Anchorage, needs your help.

On July 19, KRUA will be hosting a pledge drive event to raise funds to move their signal antenna, a move that will boost their service range and allow for more listeners to partake in their programming. Currently, KRUA is also accepting donations online, and has been utilizing social media to involve the public.

KRUA will be hosting a 72-hour Pledge Drive from July 19-21. Image courtesy of KRUA.

“Now, a new horizon is before us: the antenna that transmits the signal for KRUA is being upgraded and raised to a new, more ideal location. This new transmitter and placement will improve the signal strength, range and power of the KRUA radio signal,” KRUA said on their website.

The upgrade is an important one for the radio station, and KRUA needs help to make it happen.

“This is the first time an opportunity to improve the KRUA signal has ever come about and it may very well be the final chance we ever have to remedy our signal interference. More than ever, we need your help,” KRUA said in the explanation of their upcoming fundraising event.

The fundraiser will include a variety of live-programming from KRUA’s staff and volunteers. People are encouraged to participate, celebrate and donate to the cause.

Image courtesy of KRUA Website.

KRUA is an award-winning, non-commercial educational radio station based out of UAA, and has been a part of Anchorage’s soundwaves for over three decades. The station has helped to introduce staff, students and public volunteers to the intricacies of working in the radio world.

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KRUA began as KMPS in 1987. The station acquired a small transmitter from Augie Hebert, founder of Alaska’s first TV station KTVA in 1953. The signal was not very strong, and could only be heard in limited areas of Anchorage, such as Hillside or Turnagin.

In 1991, KMPS was given approval to move forward with a tower site for the station, designating 88.1 FM as the frequency and creating a home for the new KRUA, according to KRUA’s website.

Originally, the station’s signal travelled through phone lines, so it was not readily accessible to all listeners. At approximately 5 p.m. on Feb. 14, 1992, the signal began being better received by listeners in Anchorage, and REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” officially placed KRUA on the listener’s map.

KRUA management and staff have been working toward an antenna change for several years, but only until recently have had the plan been within their reach. Through communications and talks with Alaska Communications, or ACS, KRUA has been able to work with ACS on making improvements to the signal.

“Currently, ACS operates the tower, and they have been charging us a commercial fee for this free spot,” Dylan Blankenship, KRUA’s current station manager, said. “I’ve worked at KRUA for five years, and became station manager in February, so I’ve made it my mission to push this [upgrading the antenna] through.”

With cuts to the UA system and public broadcasting, this move is an urgent and necessary one to keep KRUA in the ears of Anchorage listeners.

The event will also be the last for Blankenship, as he relinquishes the reins of the station to his staff. Blankenship plans to move to Germany to complete his master’s degree in education, but remains hopeful for the station’s future.

“I did not think I would be successful [in moving the antenna], and every station manager has tried to do this. I’m not bragging, I’m on the shoulders of giants and I got lucky, but finally [ACS] agreed ‘yes, because you pay a commercial price we can put you in a commercial spot,’” Blankenship said.

The cost for the antenna upgrades is not a small one. KRUA does not have an official estimate at this time, but will need help to accomplish the goal.

“It’s a lot of money,” Blankenship said.

KRUA’s funding comes in the form of student media fees and securing advertisements to play on-air. With a stronger signal and increase of access to listeners, businesses and organizations will be more open to placing ads with KRUA.

KRUA 88.1 FM maintains a remote station in the UAA Student Union. Photo by Robert Gant.

“We’re really hoping to get through, because with these trying times ahead, we want to be able to be self-sufficient,” Blankenship said.

KRUA may have begun with “The End of the World,” but it is on the brink of a new one.