KCSB History Walk: Documenting Campus History One Broadcaster at a Time

Vi Le

Photo by Audrey Ronningen

The All Gaucho Reunion had hundreds of Gauchos returning to the University of California Santa Barbara campus, and the weekend of April 29 marked KCSB’s fiftieth anniversary reunion. A history walk and tour led around campus and Isla Vista, was amidst the many activities planned for alumni to share stories of their memories from UCSB. Beyond just reminiscing, the tour gave great insight into the political history of UCSB, as many of the alumni reflected on the protests and riots that took place while they were in attendance.

It was evident from the start that the chatty and approachable group was ready to share and hear stories. The extreme diversity of the group ranged from alumni from the 60s- some of whom stayed in Santa Barbara and continued their involvement with KCSB- to others whose careers took them around the world. One alumni came as far as Kenya for the event.

Stops on the history walk included the current KCSB studio under Storke Tower, the University Center, the MultiCultural Center, Anacapa dorms, North Hall, the Annex and Embarcadero Hall, many of which were chosen based on significance to KCSB history. For example, KCSB started in the Anacapa dorms and was then later housed in both the UCen and the Annex. Along the way, there were many anecdotes and stories told about KCSB’s history, tracing back to upstart roots on pirated airwaves.

With the help and knowledge of Sociology Professor Emeritus Richard Flacks and Mahader Tesfai, the Associated Students Living History Project coordinator, many stories were told that made for a truly enjoyable afternoon. Some topics discussed were the founding of the MCC and El Centro, the significance of the plaques in front of North Hall and Embarcadero Hall and other instances of student activism.

Many of the stories told were first-hand accounts, creating a more personal experience for attendees, some of whom were present during these past times of UCSB. Some alumni were witness to events such as the riot that led to the burning of the Bank of America that used to occupy the space of Embarcadero Hall. Others participated in protests like the Davidson Library occupation in the early 90s.

“That’s what KCSB is all about really- getting people’s voices on the air but also giving people the chance to tell their own stories,” said KCSB General Manager and fourth-year sociology major and music minor Eric Wolff. “At this reunion we’re sort of trying to provide a historical basis for the next 50 years.”

The fact that KCSB collaborates with programs like the AS Living History Project, which strives to document student activism at UCSB through collecting oral interviews, photographs, and the like further proves their dedication to preserving history.

Events like the history walk are significant to not only preserve the history of student groups such as KCSB, but preserve the history of UCSB and Santa Barbara as well. It’s serves as a reminder to think about the things going on around our community- our history in the making.

For all we know, we could be the ones captivating future generations with our anecdotes.