Twenty years ago, KUCI, UC Irvine’s student-run radio station, was born.
Beginning Sunday, the station will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a week of special programming and reminiscing, with KUCI alumni serving as guest disc jockeys from about 6 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday.
Many of the alumni have stayed in touch through the KUCI newsletter and through personal contact, keeping alive memorable events in the station’s 20-year history.
“I love that place. That place gave me everything,” said Sue Simone, a former KUCI general manager and now the national sales director for Disctronics Inc.
KUCI alumni, she said, have “taken it upon ourselves to be like the old ancient Indians who pass all the myths down verbally, but you just keep passing it from generation to generation. . . . For 20 years that has continued and, still, (the current) management can recite the whole history of the station and it’s a wonderful thing.”
It was during Simone’s stint as general manager that KUCI almost went dark.
In the winter quarter of the 1981-82 school year, the Federal Communications Commission allowed radio station KCRW, which shared KUCI’s frequency, to increase its power. KUCI, operating under 10 watts of power, was easily overcome by KCRW. Simone remembers it vividly.
“That midnight I got a call from the person on the air. They couldn’t pick up the station in the studio . . . all of a sudden, everything stopped that day,” Simone said.
Intent on keeping the station alive, Simone began a campaign to persuade the FCC to change KUCI’s frequency. Three months later, the station changed from 89.9 to 88.9 FM, ensuring its survival.
“The inspiration at the staff level today is a direct reflection of the spirit that we had to bring the station back on the air,” Simone said. “And it’s 10 times better than it was then.”
Another former station manager, Nick Roman, remembered 1974 when 15 students ran naked across campus--a fad called “streaking"--and when Edmund G. Brown Jr., debating Houston Flournoy on campus in their campaign for governor, refused to allow KUCI to broadcast the debate live.
Former general manager Mike Duffy, who worked at the station from 1981 to about 1987, also had his share of memorable events, which included continuing his show during a few earthquakes.
“You have to hold tight and hope,” Duffy said.
At the end of the anniversary week, a banquet will be held in the Bren Events Center on the UCI campus for alumni and campus representatives, followed by a reception which is open to all on campus.
“Since we’ve been on the air for 20 years, we’re trying to make the people more aware” of the station’s history and role at UC Irvine, Danielle Michaelis, the current general manager, said.