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.
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.
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.