Eastern’s 75-year-old radio station confronts a “changing media landscape.”
Eastern announced earlier this fall that its long-running non-commercial jazz radio station, 89.5 KEWU-FM, has transitioned to DJ-free, “pre-loaded” jazz as part of a phase-out plan that could eventually result in the university ceding ownership.
The decision to potentially offload the station did not come lightly, EWU officials said. The move, they added, had the support of program faculty and university administrators who recommended that Eastern would be best served by looking at new broadcasting opportunities in the future.
“KEWU has provided quality entertainment as well as classic and contemporary jazz to the Inland Northwest for nearly 75 years, and we are proud of that accomplishment,” says Jonathan Anderson, provost and vice president for academic affairs at EWU: “With how dynamically the media landscape is changing, there will be new opportunities for the university to explore.”
KEWU’s long history began on April 7, 1950, when KEWC (as it was originally named) first hit the airwaves. It operated as a free-form student station until 1986, when it increased its transmitter output from 100 watts to 10,000 watts. At that time the format changed to straight-ahead jazz — such as big band, swing and bop — as well as modern and smooth contemporary jazz. Over the years KEWU has also hosted local artists in the studio to showcase their music.
Elizabeth Farriss, who joined the station as program director in 2004, was twice named Best Small Market Jazz Programmer by Jazz Week Magazine. The same publication named KEWU “best small market station” two different times.
“Elizabeth Farriss’ expertise and dedication over the years established KEWU as a leader in jazz programming and a well-respected ambassador of the university,” says Pete Porter, an EWU professor of film, the academic program which currently administers the station: “Eastern was fortunate to have someone of her caliber at the helm of its flagship radio station for so many years.”