From FM To Podcasting for a Student-Run Station


In February 2017, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education transferred the license of a Class A facility at 91.7 MHz, serving a largely rural area along I-84 halfway between Portland and Boise, Idaho, to Eastern Oregon University.

By the end of 2021, the station would go silent under a STA. There’s no chance of a return, at least under school ownership — the former student-run operation is seeing its studios converted from live broadcast to podcast recording facilities.

It marks the latest effort by a university to part ways with a radio station while maintaining some level of student outlet for learning the tricks of the audio trade.

In 2022, for EOU, that means on-demand downloadable audio, officially signaling the transition of KEOL-FM in La Grande, Ore., to a digitally delivered format. Only, it is eschewing the 24/7 streaming audio format and instead taking advantage of the high popularity of podcasts.

Officially, the end of KEOL is the result of a 2021 vote that saw the student fee committee say no to the cost of operating a FM radio station. Reduced interest from students was another factor, says The Observer newspaper.

The podcast studio will not require students to fork over any funds for its operation.

EOL Vice President of Student Affairs Lacy Karpilo told The Observer, “We wanted to make sure we still had something exciting in that space for the students. It still allows for the spirit of what the radio station was, but utilizes the technology and expertise we have without the same funding issues as with the radio station.”

La Grande has a dozen commercially licensed stations with a local signal.