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WPAK Radio

12/14/2009:

Everyone is familiar with North Dakota State University, located in north Fargo, but back in the early 1920s, the school was known as the North Dakota Agricultural College, or the "A.C." The college advertised itself as "North Dakota's Institute of Technology, designated for the training of Vocational Teachers under the Smith-Hughes Act, offering thirteen Baccalaureate curricula."

The 1923 edition of The Bison, the "A.C.'s" Annual, declared that an education will make a student, quote, "glad that you had all those useful things like library methods and penmanship. Think what you might have been without them!" unquote.

With the Golden Age of Radio in the 1920s came the "A.C.'s" own radio station. WPAK was set up on the third floor of the engineering building. With a 50 watt home-made transmitter, the Engineering Department started WPAK as simply an "experiment." With Dean E.S. Keene running the station and Howard Parkinson as announcer, it was on this day in 1922 that WPAK was given a federal broadcasting license. Students would tune in to 834 on the AM dial and listen, three evenings per week, to programming and campus happenings.

Like all colleges and universities, the "A.C." wasn't all academics. There were dances, theatrical productions, and...sports. Connections by phone circuit meant locals could huddle around their radios to hear the WPAK play-by-play of the famous "A.C." basketball games. The Bison basketball team, headed by Coach George "Ad" Dewey, had a 14-3 record that year. The Bison won the State championship and placed second in the N.C.I. conference.

With a lack of finances to increase power, and competition from local commercial stations, WPAK's broadcast license expired in 1926.

But with progress, there is change. And in 1960, the North Dakota Agricultural College officially changed its name to NDSU. A new name for the school meant a new radio station for the campus. It was in 1964 that radio station KDSU debuted, run by the university's Educational Broadcasting Department.

These days, KDSU can be found at 91.9 on the FM dial, and is part of the Prairie Public radio network.

Dakota Datebook written by Jill Whitcomb

Sources:

The Bison- 1923 edition, North Dakota Agricultural College annual yearbook

KDSU-FM Records, 1954-1999 (bulk: 1970-1998). NDSU University Archives website-http://www.lib.ndsu.edu/archives/collections/KDSU-FMRecords.htm

U.S. Radio Stations as of June 30, 1923 (from a Department of Commerce publication, courtesy of Barry Mishkind)-http://jeff560.tripod.com/1923am.html