SDPB History

Public Radio in South Dakota

The history of Public Broadcasting in South Dakota traces its roots to KUSD (AM), now silent. This station was one of the oldest educational radio stations in the United States. These call letters and its first license for regular programming were granted on May 27, 1922, although the station held earlier licenses dating back several years. Student E.O. Lawrence (who later won a Nobel Prize in Physics) and USD Dean Lewis Akeley were largely responsible for putting this historic station on the air. 

In the 1970's and 1980's, the South Dakota Public Radio Network built and now operates nine radio stations and ten radio translators across the state. Although the television stations were constructed first, every site and tower was designed for the eventual addition of an FM radio transmitter and antenna. This vision was culminated in 1991 when the last of the nine radio stations began transmitting from the Long Valley site. Programming is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the Vermillion studios of KUSD (FM), National Public Radio (NPR) and other outstanding program providers. The primary objective of the radio broadcasting service is to provide programs of a general educational, informational, and cultural nature.

On Friday, October 1, 2010, during the USD Dakota Days celebration, SDPB dedicated our TV Studio in honor of Martin Busch. Martin was the Executive Director of SDPB from 1960-1984, and hosted "The Bookshop" on SDPB Radio from 1960-2002. Speakers included Julie Andersen, Executive Director of SDPB; James Abbott, President of the University of South Dakota; Ted Muenster, former member of the ETV Board; Dr. Tom Kilian, an early supporter of SDPTV; Stephan Busch, Martin's son; and Martin Busch. View the ceremony here: MARTIN BUSCH STUDIO DEDICATION

Public Television in South Dakota

KUSD TV, Channel 2, went on the air in 1961 as a low-powered station, the first educational television station in the state. It is now the flagship station for South Dakota's public television network. In 1967 the State Legislature provided matching funds for a federal grant which enabled a transmitter relocation and a major power increase for KUSD-TV and for the creation of two more stations - KBHE (late 1967) in Rapid City, and KESD (in early 1968), near Brookings. 

The Legislature also created a managing Board of Directors to oversee growth of the network. Their mandate to Martin Busch (their first Executive Director) and Jim Prusha (their chief engineer) was to construct a system of television stations such that every school across the state would have access to in-school instructional television programs.

By 1978, after the construction of five additional stations, (KTSD near Reliance in 1970, KDSD east of Aberdeen in 1971, KPSD near Faith in 1973, KQSD near Lowry in 1976, and KZSD near Martin in 1978) virtually the entire state did have coverage from the television network. Although the stations at Vermillion and Brookings were originally licensed to their two respective universities, the network was consolidated under the umbrella of the Board in the 1980's. The network continues to provide instructional programming for use in schools, and public television for all of South Dakota on a seven day a week schedule. The state network is affiliated with the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), and other regional program suppliers. KUSD TV's studio production center in Vermillion is utilized for production of programs about South Dakota, student training, production of Instructional Television, and for satellite delivered teleconferences.

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