Way We Were: the 3 homes of KPCW
Park City Museum researcher
Note: This is the first article in a four-part series.
On July 2, 1980, KPCW went live with Blair Feulner’s words, “This is KPCW 91.9 FM, the station that Park City built!” Tomorrow marks the station’s 40th Anniversary.
Its very first home was constructed at the top of the bleachers in what used to be the old projection booth in the War Veterans Memorial Building gym at 427 Main St. With KPCW being a non-commercial station, the city was able to offer the space free to the station. Feulner and his army of volunteers took it from there.
Nicknamed “The Broadcast Bunker,” the space was small, artsy and the perfect launch pad. It was supplied with microphones, turntables and a variety of donated albums, most of them pretty scratchy. Smoking was popular and still allowed in work spaces so at times the air was thick. A volunteer showing up for early morning duty might have had to step over a few sleeping bodies.
In 1985 the station transitioned to the historic Marsac Building rent-free. By then 13 full-time staffers and 50 volunteers operated out of the lower level at the north end of the building. Rick Brough, current county news reporter, was not an employee at the time but had been an on-air guest in the space. He noted, “The current DJ room is probably bigger than the room we had at Marsac for the DJ booth and production room combined.”
In 2007, the city had plans to build a two-story commercial building adjacent to the China Bridge parking structure on Swede Alley. KPCW hoped to partner with the city to eventually own the second floor of that building or at least rent it until funds could be raised. 460 Swede Alley became the rental home of KPCW radio in July 2008. This space was nearly 2,000 square feet — 30% larger than the previous location and more specifically designed as a studio.
In November 2009 KPCW ended their rental lease and signed closing documents on the sale of the space from Park City Municipal to Community Wireless of Park City.
A decade later, rather than move elsewhere, KPCW decided to expand. In the fall of 2019, renovation and expansion began with construction of 1400 square feet of new space designed around the former exterior. The enlarged broadcast room and conference room will accommodate more people. Reporters will have the use of two small booths to provide a quiet environment for recording telephone interviews.
“The staff did a great job in a space that was too small,” said KPCW General Manager Renai Bodley Miller. “As the community has grown, so has the station. When we went on the air, Summit County had 10,000 residents. KPCW had to expand to serve the community. Employees were sharing desks. Reporters couldn’t file stories because the production room was busy. Anyone who’s participated in a pledge drive can tell you there was hardly any room to move. Now we have space to work efficiently.”
To see some early scripts for KPCW programs, head to the Park City Museum’s website to browse the KPCW Radio collection finding aid and schedule an appointment in the Research Library.
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Park City tightly regulates the number of conventional chain businesses that are allowed on Main Street, but there is space for another chain as a 7-Eleven readies to open in a building toward the middle of the street.