May 01, 2013 12:00AM
Bob Walter is a news junkie. He’s a self-proclaimed jazz aficionado. He also loves classical music. So, one could imagine his excitement at 4 p.m., April 29, 1988.
“Oh, it was a tremendous moment,” Walter, the former dean of learning resources at Pittsburg State University, said. “It was a festive party.”
That “moment” was when KRPS began broadcasting from the campus of PSU. From the beginning, the station’s mix of NPR news, classical and jazz music, and other public radio programming filled a hole that had existed in the region.
“I was there when KRPS first went on the air,” Walter said. “I was very happy to witness that. It’s a station that was desperately needed in this area.”
Walter was also among the several KRPS members and supporters who attended an open house event Monday to celebrate the station’s 25th anniversary.
Missi Kelly, station general manager, said the event was conducted to allow those members to see what goes on behind the scenes at KRPS.
“This station wouldn’t exist without the support from our members, listeners and supporters,” Kelly said, “and this is a way to let them come in and see where their investment goes. This station belongs to the members. We are simply the stewards of the ship.”
Tim Metcalf, KRPS program director, said the station’s first broadcast included the playing of “Liberty Fanfare” by John Williams. Anyone listening at 4 p.m. Monday heard the tune, as Metcalf said the station planned to air a portion of the opening broadcast to commemorate the historic moment.
“It was the culmination of a dream,” Metcalf said of the first broadcast.
The station’s powerful, 100,000-watt signal reaches out approximately 100 miles in every direction from its tower south of Pittsburg. Included in the coverage area are cities from Bartlesville, Okla., and Rogers, Ark., to Pleasanton, Kan., and Monett, Mo.
“One of the compelling arguments for the establishment of KRPS that still resonates today is the importance of providing this special type of programming for people who live not only in communities of some size, but also to people who live on farms and small towns throughout the region,” Kelly said. “It really is a quality-of-life issue.”
Grady Smoot, then PSU vice president for development and public relations, had that in mind on the day of the station’s first broadcast.
“The Four-State region will never be the same,” Smoot said as the first broadcast began.
The spring membership campaign is going on now, but Kelly said listeners can become members at any time of the year and may pledge online at the KRPS website, www.KRPS.org.
Kelly said she has been reminded during the campaign just how important and influential KRPS has been in the lives of its listeners.
“We’ve received calls from people who said they grew up on KRPS because their parents listened,” she said. “We’ve heard from a mother who said her son, because of the music he heard on KRPS, has classical music CDs in his dorm room. It’s nice to hear those stories and remember just how much the station means to so many people.”
It certainly means a lot to Walter, who still chooses KRPS over the hundreds of stations he could get on his satellite radio.
“If I’m within range of KRPS, I’m listening,” he said.