Way We Were: The times, they are a-changin’
Park City Museum researcher
This is the third article in a four-part series.
The first serious discussions of building a local radio station took place in 1978 around a table in the now-defunct Car 19 Restaurant and Bar. The “Founding Five” included Blair Feulner, Dan Wilcox, Tom Bock, Jay Meehan and Rebecca Widenhouse. Among them, they had 60 years of radio experience.
However, it took two years of raising thousands of dollars, submitting hundreds of pages of applications and countless numbers of volunteers pulling together to get the very first moments of KPCW on the air. According to Tom Bock in a 2005 interview, “It went from becoming a pipe dream to something that could be a reality because there were so many other people who could see the vision.”
When KPCW first rocked the local airwaves that infamous July 2, 1980, it had low power but a very high vibe. A true community treasure on every level, there was no paid staff, no set program, no record library and a vintage 1947 transmitter basically scavenged from the junk pile.
After that first night on the air, Syd Reed, a longtime Parkite and original KPCW board member, recalled: “The next morning you turned the radio on and there was Blair and Dan Wilcox with the coolest voices. They had the best radio voices.” The day often started with the tagline, “It’s morning in the Park with Burnett and BF” (Ron Burnett and Blair Feulner).
From the beginning, programming priorities were local news and weather. Sounds simple, but it changed the whole politics of the town by offering up information and interviews, allowing the entire community to become more aware of what was going on.
By the 10th anniversary in 1990 they could look in the rear-view mirror at 65,000 hours of programming and be proud of 700 locals who’d made up their volunteer Air Force in their first decade.
Today, the local reports fly beyond our mountain town. Reed, a Parkite for 46 years, now spends some time away from Park City but doesn’t miss a beat. She said, “I’m tuning in on my computer from Florida or Fire Island just to keep up on local news with Leslie Thatcher.”
No matter what changes have occurred, in location, staff, programming or technology, KPCW remains the station of locals serving locals as the most important community connector in Park City. KPCW provides that hometown connection whether you are in Summit County or somewhere else in this big, wide world.
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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.