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A Brief History of KSJD

A multimedia journey through the history of KSJD and the Community Radio Project!


1986 – Tony Valdez, the electronics instructor at the San Juan Basin Vo-Tech, decides to instruct his students about broadcast media. San Juan Basin Vo-Tech students Anthony Valdez (son of Tony) and Ted Vardell design and apply for an FCC radio station license as part of their course work.

1987 – The San Juan Basin Vo-Tech is granted the FCC radio license Tony and Ted apply for, and construction of the radio studio on campus begins.

1988 – KSJD goes on the air at 91.5fm, with students and volunteers providing live programming six to eight hours a day. Student manager Desiree Kline runs the station at this time with Tony Valdez overseeing the operations.

1994 – KSJD becomes an NPR member station with administrative support from San Juan Basin Vo-Tech president Howard Acott and funding from federal grants and the school. There was one full-time paid person and numerous volunteers creating programming on KSJD at this time, and the school started a Broadcast Media program curriculum for students involving KSJD and a TV station.

1995-2003 - The San Juan Basin Vo-Tech (later renamed the San Juan Basin Technical College) operates KSJD as part of their Broadcast Media curriculum but by 2003 it is no longer using the radio license for educational purposes. Some non-student volunteers from the community began to do shows on KSJD around 2001.

2003 - Rosie Carter is volunteering at KSJD as a community member when the San Juan Basin Technical College turns off the station due to state budget cuts. Alarmed at the prospect of losing the station as a community asset, Rosie puts up flyers around Cortez announcing a meeting to see if there is any interest in forming a community radio station. Over 60 people show up at the meeting at Magpie’s Coffeehouse, coincidentally located in the Basin Bank Building where KSJD would ultimately relocate to. A small group of the people at this first meeting form a board of directors, and the Community Radio Project is born!

2003 - The San Juan Basin Technical College agrees to a license management agreement with KSUT to help the Community Radio Project get KSJD back on the air. KSUT hires Jeff Pope to manage operations at KSJD, fundraise, and help build capacity at KSJD. Many of the first KSJD volunteer DJs who are still doing shows today began their shows during this time.

2006 - The Community Radio Project and San Juan Basin Technical College agree to a license management agreement to allow Community Radio Project to manage the station. Community Radio Project begins regular on-air fund drives and fundraising events to support the growing staff of KSJD. The San Juan Basin Technical College stays involved with bookkeeping and payroll services, and as the designated grant recipient for KSJD.

2009 – The San Juan Basin Technical College agrees to grant Community Radio Project the FCC license for KSJD. The Cornerstone Capital Campaign is formed to start funding relocation of KSJD now that it is no longer affiliated with San Juan Basin Technical College, and a search for possible locations begins.

2009 - Community Radio Project acquires a new FCC license for KICO to be situated in Rico, Colorado.

2009 - Community Radio Project purchases the Basin Bank Building in downtown Cortez as a future home for the station.

2010 - KICO in Rico goes on the air at 89.5fm.

2011 - Community Radio Project acquires a new FCC license for KZET and begins to look for sites to place the transmitter.

2011 - Renovation and construction begin at the Basin Bank Building to accommodate KSJD’s radio studios, office space, and a community theater.

2012 - KSJD moves into the Basin Bank Building in Cortez!

2012 - KZET goes on the air at 90.5fm from Hermano Peak (the “knees” of Ute Mountain) in partnership with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

2014 - The Sunflower Theatre opens with a show by singer-songwriter Dan Bern.

2023 - Community Radio Project celebrates 20 years of managing KSJD!

Photo Gallery


Rosie Carter
Jeff Pope
Melissa Betrone
Chuck McAfee
Marianne Mate
MB McAfee
Bob Bragg
Barb Richhart aka The Western Belle
Kristine Nunn
Sam Carter
Tracy Murphy

Music for all of these stories is "Morning Zine", a song composed and performed by Brett Pejsa for KSJD's morning public affairs program that aired from 2008 to 2015.