History – KFCF 88.1FM – Free Speech Radio
History of KFCF
Volunteer Rychard Withers installing antennas on the tower at Meadow Lakes where the KFCF transmitter is located (1981).
Early in 1972, the idea to establish a radio station for the Fresno Free College Foundation came from Professor Everett Frost. At that time, he was producing radio plays at Pacifica radio station KPFK in Los Angeles and suggested that FFCF bring that signal into the Fresno area. Simultaneously, Professor Alex Vavoulis, President of the FFCF, learned that radio engineer Rand L. Stover, was also interested in bringing a Pacifica signal into the Central Valley of California. This idea was brought before the Board of Directors of the FFCF and it approved the concept of constructing a radio station that would simulcast the signal of the Pacifica station into the Central Valley. The station would provide the area with alternative programming that was not being offered by the commercial media. The Board’s vision for this station was seen as projecting the U. S. Constitution into the community on a daily basis; it would provide information for its citizens that would be useful in the political and social processes; and through this electronic facility allow for alternative sources of information to enhance the cultural, artistic and intellectual life of the community so that a free and open society can be realized. It would be financed by listener subscribers and operate under the non-profit status of the Fresno Free College Foundation.
This Board decision began a relationship between Vavoulis and Stover that has lasted for some 40-years. It was a dream of Stover to construct this kind of radio station and he saw the possibility of the realization of his dream in a collaboration with the FFCF. He suggested that, from a technical aspect of receiving a Pacifica signal, it would be easier to bring the KPFA signal from Berkeley, California to the Central Valley. This was approved by the Board and designating Vavoulis as Manager and Stover as Chief Engineer, work was begun to bring the concept into reality. The financial (donations), legal (volunteer attorneys), and technical (Stover) aspects of the project were overcome and the inaugural broadcast took place on June 9, 1975. The first hands -on volunteer during this period was Rychard Withers. The initial announcements of the first broadcast is available in the 1974-1975 Annual Report of the FFCF on pages 8, 10 & 11 by clicking on the link: https://www.fresnofreecollegefoundation.org/reports/1974-1975.pdf. The office location for FFCF/KFCF was in a downtown facility that was the location of Millbrook Press. The first studio and broadcast of the KFCF 88.1fm signal was from the second floor of Stover’s garage. This home for KFCF was used until broadcasting started at the location on Wishon Avenue in the Tower District.
The first studio and broadcast of the KFCF 88.1fm signal was from the second floor of Stover’s garage. This home for KFCF was used until broadcasting started at the location on Wishon Avenue in the Tower District.
At the time KFCF started broadcasting it was the only non-commercial electronic medium serving the Fresno area. The station began simulcasting the signal of KPFA 24-hours per day until it began to offer local originating programs. It has an equivalent effective power of 50,000-watts from a transmitter site 30-miles northeast of Fresno in the Sierra Nevada. With an elevation of 5,200-feet, the signal can be received as far north as Modesto and as far south as Bakersfield and in many locations in the Sierra Mountains.
KPFA is KFCF’s affiliate/network station. It has been broadcasting since 1949 and provides KFCF with the majority of its programming. KPFA is the first listener- supported radio station in the country providing diverse programming in news, public affairs, music and the arts. Over the years, KPFA programmers have won every major award in broadcasting. It is owned and operated by the Pacifica Foundation which also owns the license for: KPFK in Los Angeles, KPFT in Houston, WBAI in New York City and WPFW in Washington, D.C. Pacifica also operates the Pacifica Radio Archives in a facility in Los Angeles.
Pacifica encourages and provides outlets for the creative skills and energies of the communities in which broadcasts. It is committed to produce programs that contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and individuals of the world. Further, it is also dedicated to the distribution of information and art for the enlightenment of the communities it serves.
To learn more of the Fresno Free College Foundation go to its web site by clicking on: www.fresnofreecollegefoundation.org.
Rand Leroy Stover
Rand Leroy Stover, one of the founders of KFCF passed away on December 27, 2012. Randy helped put KFCF on the air in 1975, and had the studios in his garage for many years. Rand also donated much time, equipment and labor to KFCF over the years. Randy traded his labor, taking care of commercial radio stations for a number of years in exchange for the rent and costs for KFCF’s transmitter. I considered Rand a dear friend and know that he is happy that his labor of love, KFCF, continues today. Randy taught me much about radio engineering, and so many other wonderful eccentric things. I’ll miss his friendship, but feel that his memory will live on in KFCF.
RL Stover’s ashes were laid to rest in an old Atwater Kent Radio (tuned to 88.1) on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 at Fresno Memorial Gardens. The Board of the Fresno Free College Foundation has established a memorial fund in RL’s honor. Checks may be sent to : KFCF PO Box 4364, Fresno, CA 93744. Proceeds will go towards adding an additional production room/studio at KFCF. Donations may also be sent to the CCSPCA or the Mother Jones Investigative Fund, two other charities RL supported. Thanks to those who have donated.
KFCF General Manager
FFCF Executive Director