2010 - Radio Station
KUOO FM signed on the air on Monday, April 1, 1985 in Spirit Lake . The start up day, April Fool’s Day, was no coincidence.
It was planned by station founder and owner Paul Hedberg, who was a big fan of the Fighting Phantoms of the University of Okoboji (a factitious but nationally popular college based in the Iowa Great Lakes Region). The call letters KUOO acknowledged the Campus of the University of Okoboji (UOO) and the Iowa Corporation Hedberg founded was appropriately called Campus Radio Inc. It was the first radio station to be licensed in Dickinson County .
Sign on day brought all businessmen in the area to the waves as soon as the station hit the air at 6 a.m. Founders of the University of Okoboji (Herman and Emil Richter) arrived at the station one mile west of Spirit Lake at 5 a.m. with egg soufflé, coffee, orange juice and a magnum of fine champagne. The clever call letters caught the imagination of listeners and advertisers quickly.
The station was the seventh built by Hedberg Broadcasting Group and Paul moved the Group headquarters and offices to Spirit Lake . It joined the stations from Morris, Luverne and Mankato MN along with Algona, Storm Lake , Mason City and Rock Valley IA.
Not only did KUOO bring music into the homes, cars and work places, it took the music to the waters. Hedberg purchased a complete mobile studio in 1989. It looked like a giant radio riding on wheels and was affectionately called the KUOO Boombox. It was pulled to live remote locations and hauled through parades. However, uniquely it also floated.
Each Fourth of July weekend, it was lifted onto a dock/hoist building barge and cruised around West Lake Okoboji. The KUOO staff would be taken by boat out to the barge in shifts, where they tossed cans of sodas, t-shirts and other souvenirs to passengers of boats floating by or docking to the barge. The music blared from the Boombox and everyone celebrated in the heart of the U of O campus with KUOO.
The station owners and managers felt a deep sense of community and KUOO gave back as much as possible. During the devastating floods of 1993, the station launched a weekend on air fund drive to raise money to help the businesses and people shut down by the floods. KUOO raised $100,000 that weekend.
The National Association of Broadcasters named KUOO FM the Small Market Radio Station of the Year in 1994 for its quality broadcasting and massive community service. Hedberg accepted the NAB Marconi Award that year. KUOO continues to provide community service to its entire broadcast area. It continually supports IRRMA’s efforts to preserve the history of rock and roll.
When another frequency in Dickinson County opened up in 1996, Hedberg developed a KUOO sister station called KUQQ with a rock format. At the beginning of its 25th anniversary year of 2010, Community First Broadcasting purchased both stations, thereby allowing service to the “Campus” to remain the main focus, thanks to CEO Neil Lipetzky, partner Dean Sorenson, station general manager Marty Spies and her staff.
For 25 years of bringing music and community service to the airwaves (and water waves) of Northwest Iowa and Southern Minnesota , KUOO FM is proud to join the Class of 2010 in the IRRMA Hall of Fame.