canada africa partner reservation Local radio station holds public tour and open house to celebrate 40 years of broadcasting

Local radio station holds public tour and open house to celebrate 40 years of broadcasting

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Left: Mark Bailey behind the microphone at KRIC, Ricks College’s radio station in the 1980s and 1990s. Right: BYU-Idaho Radio manager Brandon Isle behind the microphone during an interview with EastIdahoNews.com. Isle began working for Bailey in 1999 as a Ricks College student. Listen to an aircheck from former employee Rett Nelson in the video above. | Courtesy of Brigham Young University-Idaho

REXBURG – John Haeberle was excited as he listened to the new signal on his radio dial.

It was May 1, 1984 and KRIC broadcast for the first time on 100.5 FM. Haeberle was licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate a radio station on the second floor of the Spori Building on the Ricks College campus. Thanks to a transmitter atop Annis Butte, about 13 miles southwest of Rexburg, the 25-year-old radio station had a greater reach than ever before.

Forty years later, a tower in southern Menan Butte transmits signals for two radio stations owned by Brigham Young University-Idaho. What is now KBYI has a 100,000-watt signal on 94.3 FM. It is also streamed online. Listeners tune in daily to NPR News, classical music and other student-produced programs.

Brandon Isle, who became station manager in 2022, tells EastIdahoNews.com that it is the students behind the microphone that have made BYU-Idaho Radio what it is today.

“At various points in our history, we have been the No. 1 station on the dial,” Isle says.

And students have produced award-winning content over the years.

Isle and his team are celebrating 40 years of broadcasting to a wide audience by holding a public open day and tour of the station on May 17. They will sprinkle the airwaves with tributes and memories from former employees. EastIdahoNews.com reporter Rett Nelson got his start at BYU-Idaho Radio. Listen to an air check in the video above.

haeberle and barrus
KRIC manager John Haeberle, left, and program director Lamar Barrus | Courtesy of BYU-Idaho

The early days of radio on campus

Years before KRIC came out, it was a laboratory station that operated out of a small trailer. It was called Viking Saga and students would produce content to give to other stations.

In 1959, the college acquired a 10-watt station known as KRIX. It was located in the old Spori building and students had limited ability to broadcast their own content.

‘I’ve heard it described as ‘the signal trickled from the windows of the Spori.’ So if you wanted to listen, you probably couldn’t unless you were on campus,” Isle said.

Kay Wilkins played a crucial role in those early years.

In 1967 it became KVIK.

KRIC student
A student at the microphone at KRIC in 1987. | Courtesy of BYU-Idaho

Under the leadership of John Haeberle, KRIC went on the air in 1984 and began broadcasting to a large audience for the first time. According to former station manager James Clark, Lamar Barrus was the program director and was heavily involved in writing copy for student announcers early on.

Another 3,000-watt signal began broadcasting around 1993 with the call letters KWBH. Listeners today know it as KBYR on 91.5/88.3 FM, which plays inspirational music.

These stations were housed on the second floor of the Spori Building until 2000, when the building was destroyed by fire.

That same year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that Ricks College would be renamed Brigham Young University-Idaho and transition from a two-year junior college to a four-year university.

university communications building
University Communications Building where the campus radio station is now housed | Thanks to Brandon Isle

The University Communication Building at 525 South Center Street, where the radio station is currently housed, was completed in 2001 and dedicated by then-University President David Bednar.

Clark came on board in 1999 as station manager. There were concerns about staffing at the time, and Clark recalls a shift in focus toward expanding opportunities for students.

“We were asked to use as many students as possible for the work,” says Clark. “We had three full-time people and the rest were students. We had anywhere from 15 to 30 students (a semester). They made a major contribution to the operation.”

The campus radio station is where Isle began his broadcasting career as a student more than twenty years ago. As he looks back on this milestone, he speaks fondly of the mentors who gave him the opportunity to gain experience.

“Mark Bailey (the news director for years) caught me one day and said, ‘How would you like to come work for me?’” Isle recalls. “I started working here as a student making news clips and segments.”

It makes Isle smile knowing he now plays a similar role for today’s students.

“There is something magical about working with students,” Isle says. “They are hungry and eager to learn and it is so rewarding to see them come in… and gain new skills and achieve those daily wins.”

Many students have returned after getting jobs in the industry. It is exciting for Isle to see former students doing good things as a result of their involvement with the radio station.

He is happy to be part of the 40th anniversary and looks forward to celebrating with the community.

The open house will take place on May 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. T-shirts and other swag will be available for those who attend.

KRIC 20th
KRIC’s team celebrates its 10th anniversary in 1994. At top, from left to right, are Ernie Reidelbach, Lamar Barrus and Mark Bailey. Below from left to right are Dale Hillier and Marvin Holt. | Courtesy of BYU-Idaho

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