Work began on the current Farr Hall facilities in 1969 on student initiative, and WKCO received its charter from the FCC in 1972 to broadcast in mono at 10 watts FM. The Farr Hall facilities were primarily designed by then-General Managers Greg Widin and Marc Speiser. Broadcasts from Farr Hall commenced in the fall of 1973, and the studio expanded again in 1975.
In 1980, the FCC terminated the licenses of 10-watt ultra low power FM stations, forcing WKCO to upgrade to a 100-watt transmitter and stereo transmission in order to retain its license. Community fundraising and a significant grant from the George B. Storer Foundation allowed WKCO to successfully make the transition, and the station started broadcasting in stereo at 100 watts from the top of the Chase Tower of Peirce Hall ever since.
Technical problems wreaked havoc on the station throughout the 1990’s, from periodic and destructive flooding of the studios to a lightning strike on the tower in 1995. In 1998, the FCC terminated the station’s license after WKCO’s student management failed to file for a renewal in a timely manner. A new administration cleaned up the station’s act and broadcasts recommenced in the fall of 1999.
WKCO began streaming broadcasts on the campus-only network in 2001. In the spring of 2009, LBIS generously allowed WKCO to begin streaming globally over the internet. Today, WKCO is Kenyon’s largest student organization.
First, to serve the Kenyon College student body, the greater Kenyon community, as well as the surrounding area, with quality content, from musical and educational outreach programs to community announcements. WKCO provides a unique and distinct voice otherwise absent from the airwaves in the area and also provides the most direct and viable connection between Kenyon students and the residents of the surrounding area. As such, we continue to see both FM and online streaming broadcasts as essential to our function. Additionally, since global online broadcasts began, WKCO has attracted a growing alumni audience and now provides the possibility of a vital connection between past and present Kenyon students. We serve both the on-campus community, the greater Kenyon community (alumni, parents, friends, and students abroad), and the residents of Knox County. We therefore seek to produce enriching and entertaining programming that will appeal to and be appropriate for those audiences, and will seek to maintain and expand our ability to reach them.
Second, WKCO seeks to provide students both a creative outlet and hands-on experience with broadcasting. Though we are not a pre-professional organization, we do seek to allow students interested in pursuing careers in broadcast journalism, radio, or technical fields to gain knowledge and experience. We also hope to connect Kenyon students aspiring to careers in radio with alumni or other members of the Kenyon community in the field. We are dedicated to allowing students who are not committed to professional careers an outlet and form of expression, whether as a talk show host, program producer, DJ, or musician.