Student on the air at KDVS

Chloe Lessard hosted a medicine-related show at KDVS in 2014. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

KDVS Turns 60

by | May 6, 2024 | Culture, On Campus

Student-run radio station KDVS celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, while preparing to move out of Lower Freeborn Hall.

KDVS began in 1964 as a free-form radio station in an all-male dormitory, growing in size until relocating to Freeborn Hall, which had just opened at the time of the move. KDVS is operated and directed by students. Students host shows, promote events, fund raise and more. “I’ve basically been at KDVS as much as I could be and had a show as many times as I could within my time at UC Davis,” said fifth-year Jacob Ikuma, the current general manager.

In the 1970s KDVS turned toward the alternative music scene, advocating for and supporting lesser-known independent bands. In addition to music shows, the station has hosted interviews through its news department with prominent musicians and figures, from activist Angela Davis to members of The Police.

KDVS has built strong ties with the Davis and surrounding Yolo County area throughout its years of operation, connecting to its broad audience through a strong radio tower signal and relying on community members for donations and support. Visitors also come to explore the station, as the station is home to an extensive collection of donated and purchased records, CDs and various styles of physical music.

Freeborn Hall, formerly a venue for speaker events and musical performances, was deemed seismically unsafe over a decade ago. The university weighed several options for the site, ultimately deciding in 2018 to tear it down.

KDVS is now set to occupy the space previously held by the Aggie Thrift store, adjacent to the Bike Barn. According to Ikuma the relocation deadline has been repeatedly delayed, as the transport of the radio station’s collection of mixed media and equipment requires significant effort and planning. The exact deadline for the relocation remains unclear, but Ikuma estimated that the move will happen by next year.

“It feels kind of like a sin to just lose it all,” said Ikuma, who has worked at the station for over five years. “Lower Freeborn is synonymous with KDVS for a lot of alumni. There is a kinship that people feel with the radio station.”

With the new above-ground location, the public will have more access to the radio station. Ikuma said he anticipated that KDVS would still able to retain its practices and carry on operations as normal, as well as have space to store collections and recording equipment.

This past weekend, KDVS focused on fundraising at its annual music festival, Operation Restore Maximum Freedom, which has been running annually for the last 20 years. “This is our 60th anniversary fundraiser, so it’s gonna be treated a little more renown,” Ikuma said just before the event.