According to archived KSLU articles, radio at Saint Louis University began in 1920 with the establishment of the first radio station west of the Mississippi River, WEW, as a faculty-run, religious radio station. In 1949, the communications department established KBIL, a student-run station operating as a carrier current facility broadcasting to a small radius around campus. According to an excerpt on KBIL in the 1955 Saint Louis University Yearbook, the purpose of the station was to provide training for students preparing for the radio profession and entertainment designed for its student audience. According to a March 2000 University News article, the call letters KSLU were established in 1983 after the FCC required KBIL to changed its call letters because a station in Texas shared them. KSLU currently broadcasts online and over cable channel 18.
Evolution of KSLU
KSLU has evolved as technology has evolved. Between ’92 and ’98 KSLU became better known on campus. The mid ’90s have been called some of the most exciting and exceptional years for KSLU marked by a lot of growth. KSLU became an audio and visual entity, broadcasting over cable channel 12 and the published Fiber, a college music magazine. KSLU also hosted popular concerts at the Reinert Pub, a student tavern on the ground floor of Reinert Hall. In 1995, KSLU received a new broadcasting board as a donation from Emmis Communications, a national media conglomerate.
Music was KSLU's main focus at this time, becoming a College Music Journal station in 1994. CMJ was a music events and publishing company that reports what college radio stations are playing to record companies. In turn, CMJ stations receive hundreds of free CD’s from artists every year. Although CMJ ceased operation in 2017, KSLU still maintains a strong committement to music on the outskirts of the mainstream. Through years of strong rapport with music producers, KSLU is still able to provide DJs with some of the freshest music out there. Although there was a failed push for a return to the airwaves as a low-power FM station in 2000, KSLU has continued to grow. With the emergence of the digital age, KSLU is in an era that is no longer restricted by being absent from the airwaves.
KSLU has lived up to its mission statement that was printed in the 1955 SLU Yearbook to provide students with experience and be a valuable extra-curricular activity. Through periods of low funding , recreation, and reorganization, KSLU has risen above to reveal itself a resilient and multi-faceted group of music lovers. KSLU currently broadcasts online 24 hours a day, offers mobile DJ services for on and off campus events, publishes Already Bored, and organizes music events. Looking forward, KSLU hopes to be the university's main source for non-mainstream music exposure, production, and performances, experimenting with online publishing and podcasting as well.