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Local History

Happy 40th Birthday, KSMU!

An undated photo of the old KSMU studio. The home, which is no longer standing, sat at the southwest corner of National & Grand

A recording of the Southwest Missouri State University Brass Ensemble performing the Alma Mater, heard 40 years ago today, as KSMU first signed on the air. Bob Gilmore, then dean of faculty at the school, offered the opening greeting.

“This is KSMU-FM, Springfield, Missouri, broadcasting from the campus of Southwest Missouri State University,” Gilmore said.

The station was on the air for six hours that day, 35 minutes of which were dedicated to state and national news via United Press International, and campus news featuring SMSU department heads, plus other local items of interest, including a preview of then State Auditor John Ashcroft’s visit to town, read by the station’s first news director, Rick Billington.

“State Auditor John D. Ashcroft and his wife Janet will be honored at an open house reception May the 10th in Springfield….”

Additional programming on that day includedan hour of light music, or easy listening, two hours of classical music, and an hour of opera highlights, all from vinyl LP. 

National Public Radio programming, a mainstay on KSMU through the years, wasn’t introduced until about a year after the station signed on, when KSMU moved to an 18-hour day on-air schedule. Now received via satellite, programs back then were sent over 5-kHz AT&T landlines, while NPR music programs came in on 10” reels that had to be mailed back.

KSMU now serves a large swath of the Missouri Ozarks and parts of northern Arkansas, with service out of Springfield, Branson and West Plains, as well as translators in Mountain Grove, Joplin and Neosho.

And today, 40 years after the station’s sign on, our commitment to serve the public holds just as true as it did on May 7, 1974, during Bob Gilmore’s opening remarks.

“We’re dedicated to serving our listeners, on campus and off, with good programing designed to inform, stimulate, communicate, explain, and, well just plain entertain.”

All year long, KSMU invites you to help celebrate 40 events in 40 years, beginning this Friday during our 40th Anniversary Kickoff Concert and Ice Cream Social. The event features live music from The Hamburger Cows, Dallas Jones, and Mark Bilyeu & Cindy Woolf, as well as food and kids activities. A link to all the events can be found at