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Nightlife
January 3-9, 2007

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KZSU

But different: If it's all the 'Same Same' to you Mr. DJ, we'd rather not hear any more Thai pop.

KZSU 60th Anniversary

By Deena Bustillo


KZSU-FM is over the hill. It passed antique status 10 years ago. So, to celebrate its big 60th birthday, the student-run Stanford University radio station is throwing a 60-hour music marathon birthday party. Each segment of broadcast will feature tunes from the subsequent year, beginning with the big band sounds of 1947 at noon Jan. 4, ending with a slew of current faves at 11:59 Jan. 6.

The 90.1 FM roster has 22 alumni and current KZSU DJs tentatively slotted for the birthday bash. Each must select about 15 songs per hour from music checked out of Stanford music library's 80,000 CD and vinyl collection. The DJs also hand-pick a "Hit of the Year" to play at 9.01 minutes past their hour period—get it?

The DJs young and old have been divvied up into one- or two-hour segments, many ready to try their hand at the job again after years and even decades of being away. The radio station's promotions director Adrian Bischoff says current KZSU students will engineer the board for the now tech unsavvy, because, well, technology changes a ton in six months, so imagine what 60 years has done.

"We started out a signal out of power lines from dorm rooms," Bischoff says. "People from KZSU [then KSU] ran lines all over campus to get connections up."

The tiny AM carrier-current station started as a source of breaking news in TV's early years and long before laptops were in existence, let alone college student staples.

"Kids today get their news off the Internet," former KZSU station manager Bill Ledeen says. "It's like they have a wire service coming into their dorm rooms."

You couldn't just flip to CNN or hit up Google news during Ledeen's time at KZSU during the '70s. So students switched on the Stanford radio station for news like he found while digging through his personal archives—and dubbing them in digital form, no less—to prepare for his two-hour space in the marathon.

He stumbled upon his coverage of then President Gerald Ford's 1975 keynote address at the dedication of Stanford's Crown Quadrangle law school building. Ledeen says he sat three feet from Ford during the live broadcast of the ceremony where Ford customized the school's motto into his speech.

Apparently 1975 was a big year for Stanford. In May, a hostage situation in Tanzania involving animal behaviorist Jane Goodall and three Stanford students was aired by KZSU. After months of being held captive, all were released unharmed. Ledeen was in the station broadcasting their interviews when the students got back to the Palo Alto campus.

Another Ledeen fun fact: he says that, according to a Stanford Daily newspaper article he found in his father's garage, a group of engineer ungrads actually had the first radio broadcast in November 1941, just before Pearl Harbor. The commotion of the attack put the idea of a formal radio station on the back burner until 1947—so, technically speaking, this might actually be the 65-year anniversary of the first-ever Stanford radio broadcast.


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