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60 Candles

May 31, 2017

KUMD, a public radio station operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth, is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. 

 “KUMD has served our community for generations with an alternative sound and locally relevant diverse programming,” says Ira Salmela, interim station manager and director of development. “We are proud to be the voice of this community, providing a platform for area musicians, artists, civic leaders and community members to be heard.”

The station is planning events across the community throughout the year, including the 60th Anniversary Dinner Party at UMD’s Marshall Performing Arts Center. Former station managers and staff will attend and the program includes live music, station tours, dinner, and a silent auction. Salmela advises that advanced registration is required, which closes on June 2.

Other events and more details:

Jeremy Messersmith Concert
Glensheen, the historic Congdon estate
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Gates open at 6:30 p.m., Concert at 7 p.m.
$15 in advance, $20 at the door


KUMD 60th Birthday Concert
Red Herring Lounge
Friday, June 9, 2017
8 p.m.
Featuring Rick McLean, Woodblind, Tender Ness, and Superior Siren


60th Anniversary Dinner Party
Marshall Performing Arts Center
Saturday, June 10, 2017
5 – 9:30 p.m.
$20
Includes performances by Rachael Kilgour and Father Hennepin


KUMD presents John Prine
DECC Symphony Hall
Saturday, September 9, 2017
8 p.m.

Station History

What started as a five-watt, two tube transmitter 60 years ago has grown tremendously, says Salmela, but it has stayed true to its mission throughout the decades.

“KUMD has been a trailblazer in music and educational content since day one,” she says. “From being founded in the dorms in 1957 to having more than 130 trained students working at the station each year, KUMD continues building important bridges between the university and Duluth community.”

Some highlights–

1950s

  • Station on air in 1957
  • FCC assigns the call letters KUMD in 1958

1960s

  • The studios moved from UMD’s lower campus to the education building on the new campus (where UMD is presently located)
  • Most of the music transmitted from KUMD was classical and jazz

1970s

  • Programming extended to 1:30 a.m.
  • KUMD increased power to 1,000 watts and its range grew to 30-miles

1980s

1990s

  • Lisa Johnson Bartel begins her KUMD career hosting “Northland Morning”
  • Dylanologist John Bushey launches “Highway 61” revisited

2000s

  • KUMD begins broadcasting over the internet
  • Scott “Starfire” Lund starts producing “The Local,” featuring music and interviews with regional musicians

2010 – today

  • KUMD begins offering 24-hour programing
  • KUMD receives funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund

Salmela believes her station’s story is a reflection of Duluth’s creative and active community, “KUMD is proud to help Duluth grow into this nationally recognized center of music and outdoors. The station is like a fueling force behind the scenes.”

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