Originally published September 11, 2008 – Red Pulse Magazine

According to ancient Phoenician mythology, the phoenix is a mythical firebird that dies in a nest set aflame. Once the nest is reduced to ashes, a new phoenix arises. The bird was said to have regenerative powers, making it nearly immortal. Like the mythical firebird, U student radio station K-UTE has risen from the ashes to be reborn a stronger, brighter bird.

After continuous budget cuts and waning student support, 2007 looked like the end for K-UTE. It was an unfortunate but understandable situation. With a history of inconsistent program schedules and a weak AM signal, it was difficult for U students to access the content. Despite these nagging issues, the station was able to procure enough funding to keep itself afloat under the direction of former station manager Jamis Johnson. Since handing off the proverbial baton to marketing director Sean Halls and distribution director Bob Kubichek, K-UTE is poised to come back with a vengeance, offering a level of programming never seen before from the humble radio station.

Halls believes the standard radio signal is a thing of the past, and is currently developing a Facebook application that will allow students and other listeners to access streaming K-UTE programming. By using a Facebook application to connect listeners with K-UTE, Halls looks to add an unprecedented level of broadcaster/listener interaction. Online patrons will have instant access to opinion polls conducted by live programs. The station also plans to have the application give listeners access to archived programs, releasing them from the rigid programming schedule that constrains standard broadcasting.

Halls and Kubichek have an ace in the hole with the kind of content they plan on broadcasting this year. Even with the technical problems that have hindered K-UTE in the past, the programming planners tended to be complacent.

“People just wanted to stick with the status quo, there was no desire to innovate,” Kubichek said.

That attitude has been given a swift karate-chop courtesy of Halls and Kubichek’s new approach to K-UTE, which can best be described as nothing short of serious guerilla radio. Taking advantage of the station’s small size and their plans to focus on Internet distribution, K-UTE wants to be the balls-to-the-wall renegade radio that informed and discerning college students deserve.

She has the perfect face for radio

It's the perfect face for radio

Step number one was assembling a team of student DJs who were willing to provide the kind of programming content necessary to reach this level. All the new student DJs will work as volunteers, unlike in the past when they were given stipends. With the new approach being more of a labor of love, the DJs are given a large amount of freedom, empowering them to reach out and make some real noise.

“The difference is that we love what we’re doing. We’ve acquired a great team with really good chemistry,” said Kubichek.

DJ James Thatcher agrees, and is excited to have the artistic freedom to play basically whatever he wants, whether it be unfamiliar electronic music from Europe or playing “Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety.

“Radio is so commercialized, they play it because they have to, not because they want to. Radio has lost its edge,” he said.

The direction that K-UTE has recently taken seems to encompass more of a lifestyle than just a way to play music and talk shit. The station plans to sponsor a safe sex campaign in the fall, hold an open mic day weekly at the Heritage Center for students to dish out praise or vitriol, and they even want to start an online television station.

Only time will tell how many of K-UTE’s recent innovations will take root, but it’s certainly a good start for a station that has been irrelevant to most students for some time. Kubichek understands the challenges that await, and looks forward to meeting them. With as much energy and care as they’ve put into their station, it’s easy to believe that quality entertainment will come of it. Like the imperishable phoenix, K-UTE has been reborn.

As Kubichek says, “We’re back from the dead, people!”

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