KUGS is having a party and you’re invited to celebrate with them. There might not be any cake or ice cream, but there will be music so sweet that all the boys and girls will be completely satisfied.
ASP Pop Music and KUGS have worked in a collaborative effort for the KUGS Birthday Bash concert.
Seattle based hip-hop group Boom Bap Project will headline KUGS 33 1/3 supported by local electro-rock dance groups No-Fi Soul Rebellion and 10 Killing Hands.
For those new to Western, out of the loop, or otherwise unfamiliar with KUGS and wondering, what the heck does this word that rhymes with hugs stand for, here’s some background info for those who might have been misinformed.
KUGS is the non-commercial Western radio station that provides programming for the Western and the Bellingham community when their dial is set to 89.3 FM. Its signal can be heard throughout most of Whatcom County and parts of the surrounding counties, and it extends up to cities near the Canadian border. Also, with the online streaming programming, KUGS has experienced gotten listeners from places stretching from Texas to New Orleans to Australia.
Started in 1974, KUGS was started by a group of students in the basement of the Ridgeway Dining Hall with the broadcast antenna on top of Kappa. The transmitter at the time was located in a janitor’s closet in a wooden box above a sink. According to a KUGS history statement put together by Kevin Majkut, Director of Viking Union Student Activities, if hot water ran too long the transmitter would sometimes turn off because of the interference from the steam. Once the room dried out, the transmitter would turn back on.
Also, according to the KUGS history statement, students with rooms near the transmitter had to wrap their phone in tin foil so DJs weren’t a part of the conversation.
The station’s early idiosyncrasies faded in 1979 when KUGS found a new home within the Viking Union. Soon after, in 1984, the once 10-watt signal increased to a farther-reaching 100-watt signal.
Since then, KUGS has been recognized over and over again for its excellence in programming. In 1995, KUGS was named a core college reporter for College Music Journal—a major trade magazine that charts trends and play lists specifically at the college level. In 1996, the station hosted the National Association of College Broadcasters’ Western Regional Conference. A year later, KUGS became the second station in the nation to broadcast a live webcast. In 1998, the station received the Mayor’s award from the Bellingham Arts Commission for Excellence in Diversity Programming. From 2002 to 2005, KUGS was voted Best Radio Station, in the Bellingham Weekly.
Today the station has had over 3,000 students and community members who have broadcast more than 190,000 hours of radio. Last winter quarter, KUGS expanded its operating time to include late night/early morning DJ shifts from 2 to 4 a.m. This winter quarter, the time slot is back to give new volunteers a chance to get their foot in the door to the broadcasting world.
“When I first started here as a freshman, the station was beginning to undergo change,” says Jenn Hartman, KUGS news director. “And since then we’ve seen record numbers of volunteer recruitment, retention, we’ve expanded our hours. We’ve definetly seen it become something that reflects more diverse students and having more students involved better serves the student body.”
“This year if you asked any student on campus the majority would have heard of KUGS at least; known that it’s a radio station,” said Program Director Cory Watkins. “They still might not know where it is, but they might have heard that we’re webcasting. And that’s just been in the last year and a half I’ve been here. I predict in the next year and a half it will get even bigger.”
The show on the January 26 will celebrate all the landmarks KUGS has achieved in its 33 (and 1/3) years of operation. By providing a diverse line-up mirroring what occurs on KUGS everyday with its programming where there is something for everyone, the anniversary show sets out to do the same.
“I think that it will be a reflection of different styles of music than you usually see in Bellingham,” says Hartman. “In the past, our shows have been more indie rock shows and Bellingham is kind of an indie rock town, so we’re trying to broaden the appeal.”
“It’s almost like a thank you for our listeners,” continues Hartman. “It’s just turned into this big party that’s just a ton of fun.”