After a year of development and numerous hurdles, the beginning of this school year also marked the beginning of a partnership between Fort Hays State University and KZLS Radio.
On Friday evenings, student DJs broadcast live from Heather Hall on the FHSU campus on 100,000-watt KZLS FM.
Located near Bunker Hill, the KZLS tower serves Hays, Great Bend and Russell as well several smaller communities.
The programming is developed by FHSU students and is aimed for similarly aged listeners.
"The partnership is working well. The technology and programming are working smoothly," said Dr. Mark Bannister, chair of the Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications.
The collaboration seems to be a winning situation for all of those involved, serving as an opportunity for students to learn management, programming and operational skills as well as sharing the music they enjoy.
The partnership saves FHSU in excess of $200,000, the cost that would be incurred by the university to license and equip an on-air 100,000-watt radio station. KZLS also benefits from the agreement.
"KZLS is able to broadcast live with a fresh format and is able to fit an untapped market," said Bannister.
Since the same equipment used for the partnership broadcasts is used for KFHS radio, KFHS is off the air during the Friday evening broadcast hours. KFHS is working on technical options, though, that may allow KFHS to stay on the Internet during the KZLS broadcasts.
Seven FHSU students work as disc jockeys for the partnership and are even being paid by KZLS for doing so. The students have begun to publicize the union and KZLS is promoting the relationship through advertising. It has even been suggested that the students do the broadcast every evening.
"Students are filling a music and market niche not addressed by other stations in the area," said Bannister.