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A Rick Hornyak song plays on-air. In the months before K-ROO's music license, the station could play music only by artists who agreed not to take royalties. Hornyak was one of them and, therefore, in heavy rotation. Witkowski describes his songs: "If you took every ballad ever made by Lynyrd Skynyrd and had, like, a drunken Irishman singing."
Osburn says she wants to avoid Top 40 tracks in the future, even though K-ROO is licensed. After all, this is college radio. And as a touring manager for bands, she values stations that give airtime to up-and-coming bands.
"Those places have been dear to my heart," she says. "So I wanted to make K-ROO like that for bands."
The K-ROO crew also plans to keep the air free of the seven banned words.
"We're still going to follow FCC regulations with cursing and stuff," Osburn says. "We don't want to teach people bad habits, especially if they're trying to get a job."
K-ROO also keeps a log of every song played, even though its license doesn't require it. Witkowski says it's better for everyone to learn the FCC rules before they graduate and start looking for work.
"We're using this to gain skills to go into radio, so we may as well," he says.
That kind of maturity has bolstered K-ROO's foundation, says Angela Elam, the station's faculty adviser.
"There is a certain amount of altruism that comes from maturity," says Elam, producer and host of the weekly public-radio show New Letters on the Air. "They realize that they've only got this for a short time personally, but it's up to them to help try to sustain it."
Elam has been working with students since 1999 to establish an online radio station. She says having a student-only radio outlet is crucial for UMKC, which doesn't have a journalism school (students can get a degree with an emphasis in journalism) or a dedicated broadcast program. Students can apply for internships at KCUR, but those jobs are open to students of all area universities. The only qualification to work at K-ROO is being a UMKC student. Elam says that rule will fill a gap for students interested in radio.
"You've got to have a way to practice your craft," Elam says. "I mean, you can learn theoretically about how to produce good radio. But if you're not in there actually making it happen, then everything you think you might know in your head doesn't necessarily translate into being good at it."
Elam likes K-ROO's odds of survival after this class graduates in May.
"Anybody who comes here to be trained by them will pick up on that enthusiasm," she says. "There's nothing more contagious than enthusiasm."
The next Monday night is a big one for K-ROO. The staff is hosting the station's first live remote of a weekly show called Mic'd at Mike's, from 6 to 9 p.m. (The title Roos and Brews was nixed.) Osburn, Tapp and Witkowski broadcast from tables on a tiny stage, elevated about 6 inches above the floor, in the corner of the bar's front room.
The show's format is basic: The three do live segments and talk about the NFL playoffs, baseball's Hall of Fame snubbing and the end of the NHL lockout. And they play recorded segments sandwiched by three-song sets.
They've snagged some swag to give to the audience: flashlights, pens and tickets promoting the recent horror film Mama. The initial crowd is sparse. A few guys play tabletop shuffleboard and watch an NBA game on a monitor over the K-ROO tables. A couple sitting at the bar appear oblivious to the broadcast.