KCOU, Craft Studio celebrate 40 years

KCOU was shut down in the 1990s due to financial mismanagement.
Alyssa Wages carefully weaves strings into an “A” during the Free Friday Crafternoon. The Craft Studio celebrated 40 years of service this week.

Forty years have passed since KCOU/88.1 FM and the Missouri Students Association/Graduate Professional Council Craft Studio joined MU’s family of now more than 700 student organizations.

In honor of the last 40 years, the Craft Studio will be hosting a birthday party Sept. 26 during the eighth annual MU Campus Gallery and Museum Crawl.

KCOU, MU’s only student-run radio station, is also celebrating its 40 years by having a birthday party and possibly something else.

“We’re definitely trying to plan something … but we don’t want to give it away,” said Kendresa Cockrell, co-host of the KCOU radio show Inferno.

KCOU/88.1 FM

Both organizations have been on campus since the 1970s, the era of the floppy disk. From its humble beginnings of broom-closet broadcasts, KCOU has prided itself in its diverse selection of music and news, KCOU General Manager Nick Holder said.

“We do just about everything,” Holder said. “If you tune into KCOU and hear something you don’t like, we guarantee that if you tune in 20 minutes later, you’ll hear something else that you like.”

KCOU has come a long way since its early broadcasts. It won the title “Best College Radio Station of the Year” by College Music Journal in 1989 and was nationally famous for its exclusively all-student run staff, according to KCOU’s website.

The 1990s were a rough patch for the station. KCOU was shut down due to claims of financial mismanagement. The entire staff was fired by the Residence Halls Association, who controlled the organization at the time.

In November 1997, KCOU was given a second chance, and the early 2000s were spent recovering the radio station’s reputation.

Today, many of the original staff members of KCOU are still working in broadcast, media and other adjacent careers. One of these individuals is John Bobel, the radio station’s first general manager.

Bobel now works for the city government in Lexington, Ky. Bobel said he is always checking up on KCOU thanks to social media sites. He said he wants to make sure that KCOU is still fulfilling its purpose as a college radio station: uncovering new artists.

“College radio plays an important part in college culture as well as American and international music culture,” Bobel said. “Many times, it is through college radio that groups find their audience and occasionally break out to the larger mass market.”

Cockrell described KCOU’s presence on campus as “growing and young.”

“We’re really trying hard to push our campus involvement,” she said.

KCOU hosts numerous events each month, including Open Mic Night every Monday from 9 p.m. - midnight at The Blue Fugue and concerts at Mojo's.

The radio station hopes to expand its presence on campus, Holder said.

“A lot of people think that radio is a stale media, but we are constantly evolving in terms of being in touch (with the community),” Holder said.

MSA/GPC Craft Studio

Josephine Stealey, the Craft Studio’s first director from 1973-75 and an MU art professor, recalls the time and effort she and her staff put into the organization.

“For someone fresh out of school, it was an incredible opportunity,” Stealey said. “In my perspective, (the Craft Studio) is part of the MU legacy. It provides an outlet for students and faculty and community to pursue different art media that they’re interested in knowing more about.”

As the director, Stealey’s responsibilities included overseeing space renovations, deciding what equipment to purchase, what classes to offer and how to promote the studio’s cause.

It was not as easy as it sounded, Stealey said.

“It was a tremendous undertaking,” she said. “Once we had the studio up and functioning, then I had to organize all the classes and find all the teachers.”

But her proudest moment was when she knew that she had brought something one-of-a-kind to MU’s campus.

“We were able to bring this to life and make it happen, (and) it’s a mutually beneficial program for everybody in our community,” she said.

The Craft Studio offers three-week and five-week classes every semester. In addition to these classes, the studio also hosts “Free Crafternoons” every Friday, in which students and the Columbia community can create mosaics or friendship bracelets.

“We value art and art-making and want students to access and appreciate the arts while they are here at Mizzou, so that when they leave campus, they will support the arts in their community,” Craft Studio Coordinator Kelsey Hammond said.

Freshman McKalin Cox said the arts have always been a part of her life. Instead of watching TV, she painted.

“Art stimulates your brain activity and raises your test scores…,” Cox said. “Really, it’s just going to ruin a school when they take (the arts) away.”

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