90.7 FM, Omaha
First Air Date: August 27, 1972
Operating Power: 2,750 watts
Original Call Letters: KVNO
Format: Fine Arts- classical music with some jazz, folk, soundtracks, pop
Issued To: University of Nebraska
Through the Years
August 27, 1972- Station signs on with studios in the Adolph Storz Mansion, 6025 Dodge St. and transmitter on the KETV tower at 72nd & Crown Point. 2,750 watts at 650 ft.
It was an inauspicious start. The debut went well, but after several hours the engineers got a call that there was no sound. After a series of investigations, it turned out that the final amplifier in the circuit at the phone company was wired into the light switch in the transmitter building. When the phone engineer went home at night, he shut off the lights and killed the amplifier. It took several hours to find the problem and restore KVNO’s signal.
The station was staffed by a few professionals and lots of students. It was located on the west end of campus in the old Storz mansion. The studio was on the top floor. The building was not air conditioned. The top floor studio could become dreadfully hot, and against all good practices of good acoustics, announcers would open a window. One steamy afternoon, a squirrel leapt from one of the trees that was near the mansion and jumped onto one of the turntables in use. It took a couple spins around, knocking the tone arm and sending it skidding across the record before the squirrel leapt back onto the sill and out the window.
At one time, the building was equipped with heaters in the gutters. UNO maintenance was supposed to have disconnected the heaters, but apparently did not. Dried leaves built up in the gutters, until one frosty night when the heaters came on and started the leaves on fire. Engineer Dave Kline, who joined the station just after it signed on, came out to brush the leaves away. When the fire department arrived, Dave had retrieved some hot dogs left over from a station promotion and was leaning out the window making his own private weenie roast.
Bill Watts Prime Time Jazz comes over from KIOS radio and continues for nearly 20 years.
Frank Bramhall replaces the departing Program Director Fritz Leigh and brings his show Breakfast With Bramhall, Beethoven and Bach program over from KIOS, which runs for ten years.
KVNO goes to a 24-hour broadcast schedule, the first of the non-commercial stations to do so.
The Tom May River City Folk weekly program begins a 25-year run, much of it nationally on NPR. May approached general manager Peter Marsh about creating a program that would feature the growing number of folk artists and their recordings. When it debuted in July of 1985, it was immediately successful. May would travel to Omaha to record up to six programs a session and it played at 2pm on Sunday afternoons for 14 years. In 1990, it was offered to Nebraska Public Radio, and was syndicated nationally. It is one of the longest-running syndicated radio music programs on the air, although it is no longer heard on KVNO.
January, 1988- Studios are moved to the University’s Engineering Building, 60th & Dodge. The old studio location, the Adolph Storz Mansion, in disrepair is demolished.
Station-produced TekniKolour Radio dramas run on NPR , lasting for two seasons.
KVNO is ranked 11th nationally by Arbitron, based on metro audience share.
In 1999 the format changed. The station became a 24-hour classical music station, one of only about 40 full-time classical music stations in the U.S.
In 2002, KVNO began its Classical Kids program. Two years later Robert Soener became a sponsor. Now his daughter, Nancy Soener, who along with her siblings administers the Soener foundation, funds the program, recognizing young musicians in the Omaha area. One student is selected each month, and more than 200 Classical Kids have been honored. Each gets a certificate, some gift cards and one-air recognition. In 2021, each kid also received a $300 scholarship to be used toward music lessons, camps or instruments.
KVNO’s power is increased to 9,000 watts.
July 4th, 2003- Later in the evening, engineer Dave Kline got a call from the overnight announcer. The transmitter readings weren’t right. It didn’t take long to realize that KETV’s 1,200 foot tower at Crown Point, on which KVNO had its antenna, had collapsed. Kline, Chief Engineer Norm Herzog and others rigged a temporary antenna from the top of the Henningson Campanile in the center of the UNO campus. This made due until a new transmitter and antenna could be installed on the KMTV tower at Crown Point.
Long time Omaha radio personality Otis Twelve joins KVNO as the morning show host of Morning Classics..
Dale Munson retired in 1991 after eight years as KVNO’s morning announcer. Munson had been chief weatherman for WOWT for more than 25 years prior to that, and was a popular figure in the metro area. There were a series of morning announcers until the station struck gold in November, 2006, when it hired Otis XII. He was not an immediate hit. Otis (Doug Wesselman) was a long-time rock-and-roll announcer in Omaha, and along with his side-kick Diver Dan Doomey (Jim Celer) helped invest the Morning Zoo format at Z-92 (KEZO). KVNO listeners did not have an entirely positive reaction to Otis XII’s booming voice and upbeat style, so different from stereotypical classical announcers. But Otis won them over. He became a classical music expert, prepared diligently for his Morning Classics program, and won over the listeners to become the most popular voice on the station., and still one of the most popular voices in Omaha. Coincidentally, Celer, Otis XII’s on-air KEZO partner, had been a late-night KVNO announcer back in its Jazz days.
April, 2020- KVNO purchases a new, state-of-the-art transmitter and antenna. The new equipment was installed back on KETV’s tower, and began transmitting from there.