© 2021 Boise State Public Radio
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations


KBSU has been on-air for 40 years!  We want your help to celebrate four decades on-air and we need your insight to tell the story of the unique programs, hosts and history of KBSU.  We’d also love if listeners would share their best wishes for broadcasting for another 40 years.

Leave a short phone message with your thoughts about KBSU and why the station has been an important part of your community or your life, please call our listener line at 208-426-3621.  If you'd like to leave comments on congratulations for the 40th Anniversary, scroll to the bottom of this website for the form.

If you have pictures of KBSU’s studios and staff, vintage audio recordings of KBSU, or stories and memories to share about the radio station and its history, please contact Erik Jones, assistant program director, erikjones@boisestate.edu or 208-426-5333.


KBSU 90.3 FM is Boise State Public Radio’s music and arts service.  In addition to hearing world-class symphonies perform great works by composers like Mozart, Dvorak, and Bach, KBSU is also where you’ll hear jazz, folk, rock, and alternative music. KBSU 90.3 FM broadcasts nationally-distributed programs like A Prairie Home Companion, From the Top, and Mountain Stage. A handful of local hosts produce a range of music programs, from Open Range Radio and Idaho Music to Private Idaho and Shakedown Street.

Boise State Public Radio’s journey to a robust dual-service station can be traced back to a Boise State University – then Boise Junior College – amateur radio club that began in the 1930s. By 1967, and a handful of call letters and frequencies later, the radio club had become KBSC and broadcast various programs to the campus area. In 1974, once the university changed its name to Boise State University, the radio station again changed its call letters, this time to KBSU.

Boise State Public Radio marks its official inaugural year as 1977 when the station’s founder and manager, Gary McCabe, applied to the FCC to change the station's license from an AM broadcaster to a non-commercial FM broadcaster. Broadcasts began on 90.1 FM from a 10-watt transmitter on top of the student union building and for ten years, KBSU was a free form station with student and volunteer on-air staff and a wide variety of musical offerings.  You can hear more from McCabe about the station’s beginnings and Idaho's radio history in the June 2017 newsletter of the History of Idaho Broadcasting Foundation

In 1988, KBSU became an NPR affiliate, increased its reach by growing to 19,000 watts and established a transmitter on Deer Point, just north of Boise, at 90.3FM.  As part of these changes, control of the station was transferred from students of Boise State University, which marked a transition from a completely local free-form station to a station featuring a mix of nationally distributed news programs with locally hosted music shows.

For the past 20 years content on KBSU has focused on workday classical music supplemented with content like the Boise Philharmonic Showcase that delves into local performances, and programs that hone in on diverse musical styles like Echoes, Blues Before Sunrise and Jazz Conversations.  To this day, there are programs that existed in the late 70’s on the station, and host Arthur Balinger continues to host music shows 5 nights a week.

As we keep the music going on KBSU, we want to take the opportunty to thank everyone who has helped maintain the service through its notable history.  We also strive to engage with our listeners to ensure that KBSU will be a source for musical inspiration for the years …and decades to come.

If you read through that, you'll probably enjoy our radio documentary titled I Used to Listen to KBSU: An Origin Story celebrating our station's history. It's pretty good.

Click to hear I Used to Listen to KBSU: An Origin Story