KQAL is the only full service, HD, 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.
History of KQAL
KQAL-FM, 89.5MHz, at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota went on the air in December 1975 – an alternative independent radio station from the beginning, broadcasting from a 10 watt transmitter on the roof of the Performing Arts Center. KQAL was started by faculty members Jacque Reidelberger and Brice Wilkinson and student manager, Bruce Hittner. At its inception KQAL was a laboratory for the Speech Department at WSU. KQAL has been staffed primarily by students from the very beginning.
In 1980, KQAL 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.
RDS (Radio Data System)
In 1997, KQAL became the first radio station in Winona to broadcast using RDS, allowing KQAL to transmit song/artist information to the new generation of RDS radios. Today KQAL is still the only station in Winona to transmit full song/artist data.
Computer Based Hard Drive Audio Storage & Automation
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.
In 2017, the Associated Press greatly reduced their service to only a weekday daytime schedule, leaving KQAL with no national network news on nights or weekends. A new partnership was created with the Westwood One Radio Network, once again giving KQAL top of the hour news on a 24/7 basis.
In the summer of 2020, Westwood One discontinued their news service. KQAL contracted with NBC News Radio as our new top of the hour news provider. NBC News Radio premiered on KQAL on 8/31/20.
In October 2020, KQAL took another major leap forward and became Winona’s first HD radio station, providing pristine digital audio to a new generation of HD receivers. More information is available at the HD Radio website.
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:
|Licensee||Winona State University|
|City of License||Winona, Minnesota|
|Transmitter Location||Rooster Ridge Lane, Buffalo County, WI 44° 04′ 26″ North Latitude, 91° 34′ 38″ West Longitude|
|Transmitter||(Primary) Nautel VS2.5 with a Nautel HD Multicast+ HD importer/exporter (Secondary) Nautel VS1 (Tertiary) McMartin BF-1K|
|Exciter||(Primary) Nautel VSHD (Secondary) Nautel VS1 (Tertiary) Continental 802D1|
|Licensed Transmitter Power Output||900 watts analog, -14 and -10 digital (STA)|
|Effective Radiated Power||2500 watts|
|Antenna||Shively, 6810-3R-DA, 3 bay with radomes, directional (azimuth 263°), circularly polarized, power gain 3.358|
|Height of Radiation Center Above Ground||413 feet|
|Height of Radiation Center Above Average Terrain||688 feet|
|Overall Tower Height||466 feet|
|Transmission Line||Andrew/CommScope, HJ7-50A Heliax, 1-5/8 inch diameter, air dielectric|
|Transmission Line Length||427 feet|
|Transmission Line Efficiency||83%|
|Primary STL||Motorola 5.8GHz point to point wireless|
|Backup STL Call Sign||WLP-351|
|Backup STL Frequencies||949.3625 MHz (left channel), 949.6125 MHz (right channel)|
|Primary Audio Processor||Omnia.11HD|
|Backup Audio Processor||Omnia One FM|
|RDS Generator||Inovonics 732|
|Modulation Monitor||Inovonics 531|
|Remote Control||Broadcast Tools WVRC 8+|
|Remote Pickup Call Sign||KA-74942|
|Remote Pickup Frequency||161.76 MHz|
|Studio Location||Room 104, Phelps Hall, Winona State University|
|Studio Equipment||Axia Element consoles with Axia Livewire IP audio distribution, Tascam CD players, Technics turntables, BSI Simian hard-drive-based automation system, Yamaha digital effects processor, JK Audio telephone hybrid, Sage EAS equipment, Dell computers, AudioScience sound cards, Tieline and Comrex codecs|
|Major software used||Adobe Audition, BSI Simian, BSI Speedy, MusicMaster music scheduler|
|Streaming Technology||Orban Optimod PC 1100 sound card feeding an Orban Opticodec PE encoder driving an Icecast Server. A 100% digital path from CD to your speakers.|
Here is some information about Winona’s other radio stations:
|Station||Effective Radiated Power||Antenna Height Above Average Terrain||Owner||Notes|
|K203BR 88.5||62 watts||400 feet||Faith Sound||translator for KFSI-FM Rochester|
|KQAL-FM 89.5||2,500 watts||688 feet||Winona State University||directional antenna|
|KSMR-FM 92.5||4 watts||(-)141 feet||Real Presence Radio||simulcasts KQAQ Austin|
|K232CZ 94.3||104 watts||(-)213 feet||Real Presence Radio||translator for KSMR-FM Winona|
|KGSL-FM 95.3||11,000 watts||495 feet||Leighton Radio Holdings, Inc.||formerly KAGE-FM|
|K254CM 98.7||250 watts||?||Leighton Radio Holdings, Inc.||translator for KWNO-AM Winona|
|KHWK-FM 99.3||11,000 watts||495 feet||Leighton Radio Holdings, Inc.||directional antenna, formerly KWNO-FM, Rushford is actual city of license|
|KRIV-FM 101.1||5,000 watts||741 feet||Leighton Radio Holdings, Inc.||formerly KHME-FM, directional antenna|
|K268DJ 101.5||190 watts||?||Leighton Radio Holdings, Inc.||translator for KHWK-AM Winona|
|K270AB 101.9||235 watts||679 feet||Minnesota Public Radio||translator for KZSE-FM Rochester|
|K280EI 103.9||140 watts||347 feet||Family Radio||translator for KQYB-FM Spring Grove, directional antenna|
|W297AW 107.3||235 watts||679 feet||Minnesota Public Radio||translator for KLSE-FM Rochester, directional antenna|
|KWNO-AM 1230||1,000 watts||N.A.||Leighton Radio Holdings, Inc.||990 watts nighttime|
|KHWK-AM 1380||2,200 watts||N.A.||Leighton Radio Holdings, Inc.||formerly KAGE-AM, 28 watts nighttime|
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