Mission of KACU:
To Entertain, Educate, and Enrich The Community of Abilene and the Big Country
1. To provide a professional experience in radio and broadcast media for the next generation of journalists and radio professionals through work as on-air announcers, field news reporters, program producers and program creators.
2. To educate, entertain, and enrich The Abilene community through programming from across the country, around the world, and right here at home.
A Brief History of AbilenePublicRadio- 89.7 KACU-FM
"You are listening to AbilenePublicRadio, 89.7 KACU-FM,"
KACU-FM had its start as an idea in the mind of then Abilene Christian University president, Dr. William J. Teague. Dr. Teague desired to create a professional radio station that would broadcast to Abilene and the surrounding towns in the Abilene area. In 1984, ACU hired Dr. Larry Bradshaw from Eastern New Mexico University to come to Abilene in order to put a new FM radio station on the air. Bradshaw had earlier helped start KENW-FM in New Mexico as one of the first National Public Radio stations in Eastern New Mexico and West Texas. Dr. Robert D. (Bob) Hunter was instrumental in negotiating the procurement of the 89.7 frequency, then owned by Criswell Broadcasting in Dallas.
In 1985 ACU applied for a license from the FCC and a grant from the National Telecommunication Information Agency (NTIA) to build the new FM station. The NTIA, in the mid-1980s, had the funding to provide for the construction of public radio stations to cover the entire country. A grant of $290,000 was made for the construction of the tower, transmitter and equipment to build the station. Dr. Thomas Kim, McMurry University, and Dr. Jesse Fletcher, Hardin-Simmons University, were instrumental in helping secure the grant to build the station.
KACU-FM signed on the air June 2, 1986. On that date, transition from a carrier current campus station to a 33,000-watt FM National Public Radio broadcast affiliate became complete. The station had a mission to not only bring NPR programming to this area of West Texas, (about 17 counties) but also to feature classical music and jazz, two formats which were not available in this part of the state. KACU introduced popular NPR and public radio programs like "Prairie Home Companion," and "Car Talk." to listeners in this area.
Now in its 25th year, 89.7 KACU has been broadcasting the best news coverage from National Public Radio, a variety of quality daytime popular music and nighttime classical, and an assortment of programs to inform, amuse, and entertain our listeners in the Big Country. In addition to programming from NPR, KACU programming is provided by American Public
Media, Public Radio International and BBC World Service in addition to locally produced news and music programming.
In 2006, in an effort to be even more inclusive of the larger audience, the station added the name "AbilenePublicRadio" to the 89.7 KACU-FM identifier.
On Wednesday afternoon, April 21, 2010, KACU moved into the digital transmission age and began broadcasting its first HD radio signal. Through a digital conversion grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, KACU purchased a new Continental analog and digital transmitter, replacing the analog unit that went on the air in 1986.
Although the station had a small budget and a small staff, it quickly had a big impact on the local area. In 1986 KACU-FM was the only NPR station between Dallas and Midland, Texas. It was the only NPR station between Austin and Oklahoma City. In 2011, it is still the only station that is locally owned and operated between DFW and Marfa. The station broadcasts from studios in the Journalism and Mass Communication Department on the Abilene Christian University campus and can be heard internationally on the World Wide Web. For all of its 25 years, the station has been operated by a professional staff and employed university students as announcers for all of its daily programming. The student produced “News at Noon” program has won the Sweepstakes Award from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association seven times in the last ten years. Dr. Larry Bradshaw was general manager from 1986-2000 and John Best followed him from 2000 to the present.