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50 years of KUGS celebrated with concert

Artists shine on stage, student radio spotlight

Photos of the concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of KUGS FM in the Viking Union Multi-Purpose Room of Western Washington University on Feb. 2, 2024. // Photos by Adrian Heffelman 

KUGS FM (89.3) celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Feb. 2 concert headlined by Tanukichan and opened by Black Belt Eagle Scout at Western Washington University’s Viking Union. 

Tanukichan is a singer-songwriter from San Francisco with an alternative rock and indie sound, first releasing their debut album “Sundays” in 2018. 

Black Belt Eagle Scout, also known as Katherine Paul, was born in Anacortes, Washington, and grew up in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. Her songs are known for their vocals on their alternative albums, with their first album “Mother of My Children” released in 2017.

KUGS is a Bellingham college radio station that has been broadcasting since 1974 and is one of the oldest college stations in the country. From daily news to shows like “Sleepless Nights” and “Mom Pop & Dad Rock,” the station has a variety of music programs and news that listeners can enjoy. 

The station is staffed primarily by student volunteers. Many students like Chloë Cho, KUGS’ program director, chose to pursue local broadcasting because of the station.

“Everyone comes in with their own niche interests and music tastes, and I believe it really shows in our variety of content,” Cho said.

Student DJs are free to create shows based on their music taste. Any genre can be found on the station, showcasing the many eclectic tastes of the Western student population.

“At KUGS there is so much unique programming that comes from encouraging our DJs to be creative and have fun with their shows. I have recognized it as a place for many students to come and build community and break out of their comfort zones,” Cho said.

Sam Coulter, a third-year Western student and DJ of the show “Sleepless Nights,” said their favorite part of the station is the discovery of new music.

“I've discovered some cool songs from shows that I probably wouldn't have found otherwise,” Coulter said.

Coulter said putting together playlists for KUGS is important to her as a creative outlet. She said being on the radio has helped her develop public speaking and planning skills.

“Also, it can be a way for people, myself included, to relax from schoolwork and other related things and just have fun playing music for an hour or two each week,” Coulter said.

Keith Shipman, who grew up in Bellingham, is the current president and CEO of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters. He represents local radio and television stations within Washington and advocates for free over-the-air broadcasts to government legislatures.

“I think it's extremely important you know, I got my start there,” Shipman said. “Western reached out to the local teachers in the middle schools and said you know, we've got this new little radio station and we're experimenting with programming. Over time, I did several shifts there as a high school student, my sophomore year at Sehome High School.”

He finds that serving the Whatcom County and Bellingham communities is important with a music-centric station that plays a diverse catalog of songs. 

“[KUGS] have become an integral part of the artistic culture of Bellingham and Whatcom County, and they have been recognized across the country,” Shipman said. “There are some really good college radio stations across the country and they are among them.”

Ethan Anest

Ethan Anest (he/him) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. He is a third-year student and a Public Relations pre-major. In his free time he enjoys losing track of time watching movies as well as going to concerts, Ethan can be reached at

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