Winona's Radio Alternative
KQAL 89.5 FM
KQAL is Winona's radio alternative. KQAL is the only full service, independent radio station in Winona and has been serving the area since 1975. There is something for everyone on KQAL: jazz and rock music, public affairs, educational, arts, and culture programs, and WSU Warrior play-by-play action.
KQAL is operated by the Mass Communication department at Winona State University and is staffed primarily by student volunteers. It has a dual mission: to provide career training for students interested in radio broadcasting as well as to provide the residents of southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin with quality educational and entertainment programming.
Check out KQAL today at 89.5 FM! -or- Online at KQAL.org
KQAL-FM, 89.5MHz, at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota went on the air in December 1975 as a ten watt station. An alternative independent radio station from the beginning, broadcasting began from the roof of the Performing Arts Center. KQAL was started by faculty members Jacque Reidelberger and Brice Wilkinson and student manager, the late Bruce Hittner. A laboratory for the Speech Department at WSU, KQAL has been staffed primarily by students from the very beginning.
In 1980 KQAL, Winona’s alternative music radio, was placed under the jurisdiction of the newly created Mass Communication Department at WSU. KQAL increased its power output to 1,100 watts in 1981 and it became a member of the Associated Press.
1989 saw the power output increased to 1,800 watts and the transmitter moved from the roof of the Performing Arts Center to a 400 foot tower leased from KWNO on Garvin Heights. Also in '89 two satellite receiving dishes were installed at the Performing Arts Center.
The entire studio complex was remodeled in 1991 with new state of the art equipment and the newsroom went computerized. 1995 was the year for computer based digital audio editing equipment to be installed and when this website debuted.
In 1997 KQAL became the first radio station in Winona to broadcast using the RBDS standard, allowing KQAL to transmit data to the new generation of RBDS radios. Today in addition to being an alternative independent radio station, KQAL is still the only RBDS station in Winona.
KQAL continued the transition to the digital era in 1998 when computer based, hard drive audio storage and automation was introduced, virtually eliminating the use of tape at the station. The original system was replaced in 2002 with a new, more robust and reliable system.
In the summer of 2009 Phelps Hall on the WSU campus was extensively remodeled and new radio and TV studios were constructed. KQAL began broadcasting from those new studios in January 2010, forever abandoning our home of some 34 years in the Performing Arts Center.
In 2011 KQAL was forced to find a new home for its transmitter when the owner of the Garvin Heights tower announced the tower would be razed. A new site was found just across the river in Buffalo County, WI. It turned out to be a good move since the new tower was taller and allowed a power increase to 2,500 watts.
Here is everything you ever wanted to know about the technical operation of KQAL-FM, as well as some facts about Winona's other radio stations:
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