Why Fayetteville Rules: KXUA

KXUA 88.3 FM (the student run radio station at the University of Arkansas) has been exposing students and listeners all over Fayetteville to a steady supply of new, experimental, and non-commercial music, providing exposure for some of the best original bands in the area, and generally ruling the airwaves in Fayetteville since its inception back in 2000.

Despite the readily-available nature of music online today, it is still one of the best sources for discovering new music that you aren’t going to find on commercial radio stations. It’s been a place for students to get valuable first hand experience on how to produce radio and new media, and how to operate a media outlet. It helps expose some of our local musicians that don’t get a lot of press in the traditional media, and as far as we’re concerned, is another reason that Fayetteville Rules.

KXUA will have been broadcasting for exactly ten nine years on April 1st of this year.

Student run radio in Fayetteville has a long history that goes back to even before KXUA. The first student run radio station on the campus of the University of Arkansas was KUAF, way back in the 80’s. In 1986, KUAF became a NPR affiliate, and over the years, became the KUAF that we know today.

A couple years later, the U of A’s original underground station, KRFA – Radio Free Arkansas was formed, which according to longtime Fayetteville underground music supporter Wade Ogle, was “a name nicked from REM’s ‘Radio Free Europe’ song.” KRFA was only available on the U of A campus, and made it until 1994 when it disbanded.

Thank god students are resilient.

Enter KXUA. Former station manager, and current host of the Drive-in Speakerbox Bo Counts recalls, “It started long ago with a group of hard headed music lovers led by Brandon Arnold (aka Maxx Power) that fought court battles and lack of funding hard enough till we finally got a 500 watt window of opportunity. It was salvaged from an older student run station, KRFA, that dissolved back in 1994 and a fledgling KRZA that never really got off the ground and eventually became KXUA.”

The reach of the station, while not as large as some of the commercial stations in the area, goes well beyond the University of Arkansas campus. The station has such a diverse offering of music, that it can appeal to a wide variety of listeners all over Fayetteville.

Jon Schleuss, a contributor here on the Flyer, and current co-host of the Post-genre Show on KXUA said “I think KXUA, while not the most popular institution on campus (fuuutball!), certainly fills a niche group of wise and innovative ears. Fayetteville has a unique mix of music pallets always hungry for variety.”

Selecting the music that makes it onto the station, and ensuring the eclectic nature of the station is maintained, and that all types of music are considered is a constant process. Paul Wardein, former music director for KXUA explained, “We got about 70 CDs a week from promotion companies and record labels from around the world. About half of that made it to the listeners’ ears. I listened to and reviewed CDs, and I had a music board to help me out. I had to put aside my personal tastes at times, and focus on the fact that we were (and still are) an eclectic station with an eclectic listener base.”

The fact that KXUA has been in existence for ten years is a testament to the importance, and the strength of the station.

“It’s pretty amazing that something like this has lasted in Fayetteville.” Wardein told us. “Like too many local businesses, college radio stations get started up and drop like flies before you even get a chance to enjoy them. Much like donating annually to KUAF, the local community has to support KXUA any way they can. Be it going to the shows they put on, sporting their bumper stickers or t-shirts, or telling their friends about the station.”

We’re certainly glad the station exists. Just like the old saying, if a tree falls in the forest, and it makes a sound that some people may or may not hear, mimes could be murdered all over the world without anyone finding out about them. Right?

Having a station like KXUA, and the opportunity to be exposed to new music constantly is what separates us from the lame-o’s in other parts of NWA, and is another reason that Fayetteville Rules.