Written by on July 27, 2018

Special Collections’ KCPR History Playlists

Ella Worley (WVIT ’19) is a student assistant in Special Collections and Archives and KCPR Programming Director. Read all the KCPR stories from the archives here.

What’s that sound? It can’t be coming from Special Collections and Archives, they’re much too quiet! But it is!

If you’ve been keeping up-to-date on the Kennedy Library’s Spotify, then you’ve surely noticed a few new playlists pop-up recently. These playlists are titled “KCPR::Jail Mail” and “KCPR::Changing KCPR.” Their content is a little different than your usual study-time tracks, so I’m here to give some background.

KCPR, Cal Poly’s student-run radio station, operates with a 2,000 watt transmitter, which means that their signal reaches the California Men’s Colony near Cuesta. The station has some long-time fans who are incarcerated. DJs often receive letters (and sometimes phone calls!) from inmates who want to request a song, ask a question, or just chat. Back in 1971, KCPR received their very first “jail mail,” which was signed by over fifty inmates, and requested a specific list of artists. The station manager at the time, Woody Goulart, was interviewed by the Mustang Daily about the letter, and said that the station would devote a show to playing the requests of the Men’s Colony, their devoted fans. Kennedy Library’s playlist features tracks by artists from the letter that may have been played on the Men’s Colony’s radio program. 

Listen to the “KCPR::Jail Mail” playlist on Kennedy Library’s Spotify.

The second playlist, “KCPR::Changing KCPR,” features tracks from 1986 that were published in the Mustang Daily as part of a spread about changes in the station. To give some background, KCPR started as an educational station in 1968 with limited air-time, slowly transitioned to playing some music, extended their hours to include more music and news programming, became a Top 40 station somewhere in the 70s, experienced a punk backlash to the pop-music programming in the mid-80’s, and finally resolved to feature “alternative programming” around the year 1986. Alternative programming influenced music, talk, and news programs on KCPR. The station tried to feature sounds and viewpoints that were rarely heard around the San Luis Obispo area. The artists featured in this Spotify playlist were published as popular “adds” to the station during the year, which means that their albums were added to the stations library in 1986.

Listen to the “KCPR::Changing KCPR” playlist by Kennedy Library on Spotify.

Check out the playlists here to experience KCPR from ‘71 and ‘86, or listen to current KCPR here to see how these events shaped the station’s sound.



Above photo: Student Gerry Franke at a turntable in the Cal Poly Audiovisual Department Studio in Building 002 (Cotchett Education Building), Room 16C. (http://digital.lib.calpoly.edu/rekl-3860)

More digitized KCPR history here.

Read more on 1960sand1970sCalPoly, cal poly history, kcpr, and university archives.

3 comments on “Special Collections’ KCPR History Playlists
  1. Len Filomeo says:

    It’s great to see so much KCPR material becoming accessible as the station’s 50th Anniversary draws near. The station’s first test broadcast was made on July 29, 1968.

    A couple of things. First, regarding the cover photo, Gerry Franke and I worked together a lot in commercial San Luis Obispo radio during the mid-1970s but Gerry didn’t join the staff of KCPR.

    Also, KCPR did become a 2000 watt station starting in 1974 but it moved up to Cuesta Peak in 2007 and now only uses 310 watts to cover most of San Luis Obispo County. It might be better to say that “KCPR, Cal Poly’s student-run radio station, operated with 2,000 watts, which meant that their signal reached the California Men’s Colony near Cuesta.”

  2. Len Filomeo says:

    Another reference to how KCPR was reaching out to the Men’s Colony was made in the February 22, 1973 issue of the Outpost. That was back when KCPR was only 10 watts. Check out the story “Picking Up” by Ed Noland: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2965&context=studentnewspaper There’s a nice picture of Debbie cuing up a record. Back when we were a mono station, the turntables were placed under the audio console so you had to reach down under the console to cue your records. You could see under the console as well, so that’s how someone was able to take that picture of her.

  3. Laura Sorvetti says:

    Thank you for this valuable information Len!

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