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Going live with the UMKC's first student-run Internet radio station

UMKC's first student-run radio station goes live on the Internet.



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However, K-ROO failed to launch. Witkowski says the station was hampered by bad timing. The students who were trying to start K-ROO graduated just as the money rolled in. The students who were left weren't natural leaders, he says.

"You had a ton of interest and drive with no money," Witkowski says, "and then you get money, and you have no interest and drive."

The university wasn't impressed and reclaimed the studio space. Student involvement decreased.

"I had to take a semester off of school," Osburn says, "because this was so stressful for me."

Osburn was about to spend the summer running merchandise for the Beautiful Bodies on a tour of the East Coast and Canada when she heard from K-ROO's faculty adviser.

"I got a phone call the day before I left to fly to Canada for a tour, and I was gone for a little over a month," she says. "I was like, I don't even know if I'm going back to school. Is anything happening [with K-ROO]?"

Something was happening.

In the summer of 2011, Witkowski decided to fill the void in station management. He bought equipment and invited people he trusted to join the station.

"It's just a matter of finding students motivated enough to make something out of nothing," he says.

Witkowski called Tapp, whom he had met at Penn Valley Community College a couple of years before, and asked him if he wanted to be K-ROO's sports director. Tapp was in.

Witkowski then called Osburn, whom he remembered from previous station meetings, and asked her if she wanted to be the station's music director. Osburn jumped onboard.

Brown had met Witkowski in a class a couple of semesters before, and the two discussed their dreams of working in sports radio. Tapp invited Brown to broadcast basketball games with them.

"The rest, as they say, is history," Witkowski says.

K-ROO is still looking for a news director, someone who will work hard for minimal payoff.

"We've got a campus of 12,000 students," Witkowski says, "and I've only found two that have that drive and motivation and desire."

With a core staff in place, K-ROO's students faced their first significant decision: Should K-ROO broadcast on KCUR's HD radio feed or stream online? They chose to stream.

"The reason FM radio took 20 years to take off was the fact that everybody's car had AM radio," he says "Nobody had the [FM] stereo. Nobody has HD radio."

Once K-ROO was set to stream, Tapp asked the athletics department for permission to broadcast women's basketball games.

The athletics department agreed, giving K-ROO a goal: Go live by November 3, 2012.

"I really thought the game was that big push," Tapp says. "Finally, we had a deadline."

The green sportscasters finish their pregame beers at Mike's and drive to Swinney Rec. Some aspects of sports journalism still amuse them.

"They feed us lunch," Tapp says. "It really surprised us."

The three men set up their broadcast table opposite the official scorer's table and team benches, and far away from the Roos' official broadcast partner, KCWJ 1030. Three laptops, a stat box computer borrowed from the athletics department, a small sound-mixing board, and three microphones take only a few minutes to prep.

Lunch is catering from Jimmy John's, and the crew eats with a handful of media members — mostly tall, athletic women a decade or so past college age — in a small room away from the court. Then it's time for a brief pregame show and the play-by-play.

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