Colorado Springs, CO April 13, 2021
KRCC, Southern Colorado’s NPR station (and part of the Colorado Public Radio network), is celebrating 70 years on the air in 2021. Its hometown of Colorado Springs is also celebrating a big birthday. It was founded in 1871, making this year the city’s 150th anniversary.
To celebrate the sesquicentennial, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum has a new exhibit, “[email protected],” consisting of 150 objects illuminating 150 stories examining 150 years of history. One such object is a vintage tape editing kit used by KRCC in its pre-digital days.
“When we were planning this exhibit, we knew we had to include something from KRCC,” said Leah Davis Witherow, curator of history at the Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum. “KRCC has been a vital part of the culture of our community for the past 70 years, and the tape kit provides an interesting window into its history.”
KRCC was the first nonprofit FM license in Colorado when it went on-air in 1951. Initially used for speech and drama classes at Colorado College, it grew into the public radio station it is known as today, adding NPR programming and local news and music shows along the way. KRCC is now operated by Colorado Public Radio in partnership with Colorado College.
In its 70 years in Colorado Springs, KRCC has had various homes on the Colorado College campus, including its current location in a historic house on Weber Street. Legend has it the station first broadcast from a World War II surplus transmitter relocated from Fort Carson to the campus. In 2021, KRCC will move into the new Southern Colorado Public Media Center (SCPMC), which will house the station along with Rocky Mountain PBS Regional Innovation Center, Colorado Public Radio and the Colorado College Journalism Institute. This summer, KRCC will launch a capital campaign to support the SCPMC ahead of its opening later this year at 720 N. Tejon, just blocks from the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.
Given the current state of digital radio technology, the 3M Studio Dispenser provided to the museum for the exhibit is a symbol of a bygone era.
“Going through the archives to find materials for the exhibit was a great trip down memory lane,” said Jeff Bieri, station manager at KRCC. “Before the digital age, it was all analogue — vinyl records, magnetic tape, record players and reel-to-reel machines. Today, it’s hard to remember that we used to get tape from NPR in the mail and splice it together manually for broadcasts in Colorado.”
The exhibit is now open at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, which is free to the public. Visitors are strongly encouraged to make reservations at CSPM.org or by calling 719-385-5990.
If you are interested in learning more about the Southern Colorado Public Media Center, contact CPR’s senior vice president of development, Jim East, at [email protected].