Golden frequencies

KCOU 88.1 FM holds a birthday bash to celebrate its 50th.

radio DJ playing record
1974 Savitar photo

Published on Show Me Mizzou Jan. 10, 2024

On Halloween night 2023, KCOU programmers, staffers, listeners and alumni convened at the Rose Music Hall in downtown Columbia to celebrate the station’s 50th anniversary as an MU-student-run, FCC-licensed broadcaster. 

That 88.1 FM survived even the decade as one of the first such FM stations in the country was hardly a foregone conclusion, let alone to celebrate its golden anniversary. In 1993 after a particularly chaotic year, KCOU was shuttered, renamed KEJJ “The Edge” and reprogrammed as a Top 40 station. A blow to the hearts of the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s DJs who had helped introduce listeners to R.E.M., Prince, De La Soul and Bleach-era Nirvana, students rallied in 1997 to secure a new ownership model through the Missouri Students Association. 

Thirty years after that near-death, the station remains a bastion for musical outsiders — current shows include Walden Pond Swim, Club Cyberia and The Stolen Spoon — while serving as a vital portal for sports and news journalists and podcasters looking for on-air experience. The station also offers mixing and mastering sessions for music-minded students with tracks to finish.

At the Rose for the sold-out 50th birthday bash (the actual date of the first KCOU transmission was a month earlier), the station booked a quartet of Columbia bands to celebrate, including the five-piece indie group the Tri-County Liquidators, Drona, Laika and the Telepathy Club. It was, of course, the hippest party in town. Want to check out what’s airing? It livestreams at KCOU.FM

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