IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — A student-run radio station that feared it would have to hang up the mic and close will stay on the airwaves thanks to the support from its alumni and a large financial commitment.
KRUI has been a student-run radio station on the University of Iowa campus since 1984.
The station feared they wouldn’t get the assistance they needed to keep going which led to an outpour from reporters and broadcasters, that got their start at the station, to throw support behind keeping it going.
On Tuesday night, KRUI learned they would get $156,000 to replace and install failing equipment to stay in business.
“Hello. Hello. You’re listening to KRUI Iowa City,” University of Iowa senior Shannon Mulligan says into a microphone.
Mulligan is one of the many students that work at the station. She hosts two shows including “Joke Local” which broadcasts on Wednesdays at 5 p.m.
“It’s like hitting shuffle but knowing you’re going to get something good every time,” Mulligan says, of KRUI.
The senior says she only listens to Iowa Public Radio and KRUI. She says KRUI is one of the few stations not commercialized and is still community-based.
“We feature a lot of local voices given the fact that this is a university campus. We have local music often times,” she said.
The station has one rule, no music from the Top 100 Billboard in the last 20 years. Mulligan said that music you can get on any station. KRUI is different, she says. There they focus on new alternative music.
“Music people have never heard of before,” she says.
Before Mulligan goes on air, her first priority at the station is being its operational manager. That means she’s tasked with fixing anything and everything when it breaks.
In the last several years, equipment tends to break too often.
“I like to say with a lot of technology savvy you can survive with what you have that but we’ve been doing that for so long that we’re running out of extra lives,” she said.
Over the years, equipment has aged and started to fail. A sports booth sits unusable after its radio console had to be gutted to keep the main console going.
The station is down to that one console. Mulligan said parts are no longer made for it if it needs replacement pieces.
“If this console were to break down, we wouldn’t have anything,” she said.
Alumni advocate for “Saving KRUI”
Mulligan said in the past, the station had appealed for additional funding to replace the console and was shot down.
That led them to be fearful that they’d once again be turned down and then down the road have to close up shop.
They appealed online for support and alumni turned out in full force.
Dozens and dozens of tweets from reporters and broadcasters advocated for saving KRUI and asked that the student government continue to support it.
Many credited their careers to their start at the station.
Had not even seriously considered a career in sports or media until my first day at @KRUI.
Almost 6 years at ESPN & 2+ more at Big Ten Network later, I can honestly say that I have no idea what else my career would’ve even been in without it. https://t.co/xtlCZZkLp5
— Jordan Loperena (@JordanLoperena) March 12, 2019
My first broadcasting job was reading news and sports updates @KRUI. I learned a ton from doing live radio long before I ever stepped in front of a camera. It's been a huge credit to @uiowa for decades. Keep it going. https://t.co/0rqR9N1Zgz
— Andy Garman (@GarmanSports) March 12, 2019
Hey @uisg, there have been a whole lot of talented, hard-working kids who have put in a lot of work over decades to make @KRUI what it is today. I know. I was one of them. Find them some money, please. https://t.co/JOndgYhjVD
— Todd Brommelkamp (@ToddBrommelkamp) March 12, 2019
@KRUI gave me my career. I wouldn’t have gone into and struck with broadcast journalism if it weren’t for the experiences when the station was in South Quad. The responsibilities, fun, and lasting friendships forged there have been priceless. @kensumka @ajbaudio https://t.co/QCdtLzNEPS
— Tom Hudson (@HudsonsView) March 12, 2019
.@uisg This decision about @KRUI should be a no-brainer. It's a station providing benefit to the entire @uiowa community, and many of its alums have gone on to become successful in both their professions, and in life, because of the opportunities KRUI presented. Keep it going.
— Brendan Stiles (@thebstiles) March 12, 2019
KRUI also earned support from multiple people and teams from inside the University of Iowa Athletic’s department.
— The Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) March 12, 2019
— Iowa Women's BBall (@IowaWBB) March 12, 2019
KRUI has done outstanding job of broadcasting Hawkeye athletic events over the years, would hate to see students interested in radio lose this opportunity!
— Steve Roe (@Hawkeyelefty) March 12, 2019
“I think it says how unique this opportunity is, how unique this station is,” Mulligan said about the support. “It allows you to learn a lot of skills that most people don’t have access to.”
Mulligan said she believed the outpour of support did factor in the decision of UISG to allocating $156,000 to KRUI.
“It was a huge relief, it really was,” Mulligan said. She said it felt like three years of pressure on her shoulders was lifted.
The station does get regular funding from the university and student government according to Mulligan. She said that covers day-to-day operations like paying employees but there wasn’t a fund for them to use to replace equipment.
She said she hopes the station will be able to start transitioning new equipment during the summer.
KRUI airs 24/7 on 89.7 FM in the Iowa City-area. The station also live streams on its website http://krui.fm/.