A Partial History of KSDT

In 1967, a group of UCSD students were operating a low power broadcast operation from a garage in Pacific Beach with the help of Chuck Cox from Audio-Visual Servics. Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Robert Topolovac and Jack Williams of the Language Laboratory developed a budget and description for KSDT (San Diego Tritons), a student radio station.

At this time, 1967-68, many college radio stations were establishing FM facilities. FM was still an unexplored region of the broadcasting spectrum even though it had been availible since the end of World War II. After having been made subordinate to the emergence of television in the 1940's and the 1950's, FM Rock Radio began to emerge in the 1960's and college stations were the first to use the new stereo capabilities of FM Broadcast.

In late 1968, the students moved into a quonset hut on the Matthews campus and began to broadcast by carrier current to the dormitories by hooking up to the electrical system of the dorms. The statin operated with a music department, a public affairs department, and in 1971-72, a production department was established.

In 1972, with help from the UCSD Administration, an FCC application for FM station construction was filed in Washington, D.C., on behalf of KSDT. The applicatino was summarily dismissed becausse of engineering problems concerning location of the proposed transmitter site. This was a crucial year in the formation of the FM radio band in San Diego. The educational band (between 88 and 2 MHz) was quickly filed and soon after, the entire FM band was taken up by commercial FM operations.

FCC regulation [73.507] require all FM stations to have a minimum standard of signal separation, or a buffer zone, from other stations on the same frequency in neighboring areas. Being near to Los Angeles and Orange counties means that the stations of that market limit frequencies and restrict the power output of the San Diego stations. San Diego stations are also limited by the close proximity of San Diego to Mexico. A number of frequencies are allocated to Mexico by a federal treaty [73.504] which designates a 19 mile border area. Within this border region, all FM allocations are divided fairly between the two nations. Because of these restricting factors, the denial of the KSDT FM application in 1972 all but killed any opportunities for KSDT to go on the air.

From 1972 to 1976, KSDT was plagued at different times by college radio's natural enemies: poor management and staff turnover. The management was constantly changing policies and it seemed that whenever the management seemed to stabilize, a new management would come into office.

In 1974, KSDT began to research and investigate San Diego FM license holders. The basic idea was to challenge license renewal for an existing station and then apply for that license. John Lewis and John Musselman examined KDIG (now KIFM) 98.1 FM's public files and compiled a case to deny license renewal based on failure to comply with then existing FCC public service responsibilities. While the petition for denial was pending before the FCC, Musselman and Lewis graduated and a ne management was elected. This new management was concerned with their own general well being and the internal running of the station rather than the well being of the station in general. As a result, the petition was dropped.

During this time, in 1975, the station moved into the student center. Shortly afterwards, there was a year of managerial upheaval and the management of the station was replaced. The station was completely reorganized and a constitution was developed.

About this time, KDIG was being reviewed by the FCC and was found in violation of FCC public service requirements. KDIG changed its call letters to KIFM. KIFM appealed the FCC decision and in 1977, the FCC abolished the regulations about public service programming, the very violations that KDIG had violated. KIFM argued that its license should be reinstated and the legal battle continued.

In 180, the FCC handed down a final decision to deny license renewal to KIFM based on the original complaint of 1974. The original plan was for KSDT to now apply for the license and try to petition to have it placed under non-commercial educational protections. Unfortunately, the policies of the new FCC in 1981 removed some of the protections for the non-comercial educational stations between 88 and 92 MHz nationwide. These protections had allowed for small Class D stations to broadcast at less than 100 watts. Now these stations were being asked to boost power to 100 watts or be kicked off the air by a larger station.

In 1982, the FCC work continued under general manager Karyn King. KSDT planned to petition the FCC to make 8.1 a noncommercial channel, but Willi Bokenkamp, Senior Communications Analyst at the Office of the President, advised KSDT that UC attorneys felt such a petition would be refused due to the recent decision to abolish such petitions. The only alternative left was to apply as commercial station, but this was considered too expensive an operation by the University. Thus ended KSDT's last quest for an FCC license.

Recently however, in December of 1987, the FCC officially changed its long standing policy dealing with non-commercial educational NCE-FM) stations within 199 miles of the UC-Mexican border. Under the old agreement, NCE-FM stations applicants would have to take special precautions to avoid interfering with Mexican statins and would also have to use a table of allotments to determine which frequencies they could user. Now, the applicants are allowed to "base their spacings to domestic NCE-FMs on the contour method, provided they observe required mileages to Mexican assignments as established in the Mexican Agreement." In other words, the table of allotments has been eliminated and the applicants will now be able to apply for a station in the same method that is used in the rest of the United States. This policy is intended to encourage the growth of NCE-FM service in the border area and make the FCC's NCE-FM assignment policy consistent throughout the United States. The impact of this for KSDT is that the method of spectrum assignments has changed and there is a possibility of applying for a space on the FM dial.

Before anyt of these changes had evolved, KSDO, a news radio station in San Diego owned by the Gannet chain, proposed a deal with the University. This agreement consisted of the University leasing a space to KSDO on their transmitter on Mt. Soledad in exchange for internships at KSDO, money, and another deal. This second agreement stated that the University would get air time on KSDO starting now, and increasing after an agreed amount of time if KSDO/Gannet did not find the University freqency within two years. They were able to agree on this deal because the Mt. Soledad transmitter site is the best site in the country. KSDO has jumped on the opportunity of ending this secondary deal and keeping their spot on the transmitter by applying for an FCC license, due to the new ruling, on behalf of the University.


This is a relatively old version of the history of KSDT and will be hopefully updated at some point.

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