KUAC celebrates 55 years of service

On Sunday, KUAC FM will mark 55 years of broadcasting in Interior Alaska.

The station signed on Oct. 1, 1962, broadcasting from Constitution Hall on the University of Alaska campus. As the strains of Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto” filled the airwaves, local residents heard a new voice in the wilderness that allowed Fairbanks to listen in on the rest of the world.

In the more than five decades since, KUAC has served the university, the Fairbanks community and Interior Alaska, growing and refining services to meet needs of listeners and viewers, and “connecting Alaska to the world and the world to Alaska.”

KUAC was the first public radio station in Alaska, the first FM station in Fairbanks and the first public broadcasting station to receive funding under the Higher Education Act of 1965. With that money, KUAC hired staff and purchased a tape duplication system to help distribute several programs to Alaska commercial stations.

Television was added in 1971, making KUAC the first public TV station in Alaska. KUAC TV 9 broadcast from 5-10 p.m. daily, introducing Alaskans to Big Bird and his pals from “Sesame Street,” “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line” and “Masterpiece Theatre,” opening a window onto the world.

KUAC ensured that Alaskans would have access to the same opportunities as other Americans. Since the beginning, many people have given their best efforts, their volunteer time and their financial support to make it possible. The community has rallied around KUAC in its pledge drives since 1979.

In the years since 1962, much has changed but the core purpose remains the same: improving lives through public broadcasting.