The History of Afro-American Community Broadcasting
"Radio for the black community was an idea whose time had come."
KBBG-FM 88.1 was founded soon after.
- Founder Jimmie Porter, March 1977
This station was incorporated to fulfill the needs, interests, and wishes of ethnic minority people. Jimmie Porter believed that KBBG-FM 88.1 would help teach about Black culture and lifestyles which had not been accurately represented in the media. With this motivation in mind, KBBG-FM 88.1 conducted its first equipment test of 10 watts of power on July 26, 1978. This allowed KBBG-FM 88.1 to transmit programming within a 4-5 mile radius of Waterloo Iowa. By August of that same year, the late Cuba Treadwell, Sr. cut the ribbon that signified the first full day of broadcasting for KBBG-FM 88.1. This triumphant accomplishment took place at their original facility located at 527 Cottage St in Waterloo.
With continued motivation, not being satisfied with low wattage and transmission in mono, the station took a huge step forward. In 1980, the station purchased over $100,000 in new equipment, offering a whole new broadcasting experience. With this new equipment, KBBG could now transmit within a 45-60 mile radius, allowing KBBG-FM 88.1 to reach a greater audience. On December 27, 1980, KBBG-FM 88.1 successfully transitioned from 10 watts to 10,000 watts of power.
KBBG-FM 88.1 enriches lives of our listening audience by
promoting community harmony, diversity and inter-cultural awareness.
Our goal is community success and future growth...
KBBG has educated, informed and entertained listeners for over 25 years through culturally diverse - yet culturally specific broadcast programming. Since 1988, KBBG-FM 88.1 has provided over $5,467,000 in Public Service Announcements to non-profit organizations serving our community.
On October 22, 1994, a ground breaking ceremony took place for the future home of KBBG-FM 88. This new broadcast facility at 918 Newell Street in Waterloo, IA. erected erected a 199 ft tower on February 21, 1996. The first broadcast took place on the same day. A Community Open House was held on March 9th, followed by a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony during the stations official Grand Opening on June 29, 1996. On July 10, 1998, less than four years from the date of the Ground Breaking Ceremony, KBBG-FM 88.1 celebrated another mile-stone. It was on this date that they held their Mortgage Burning Ceremony celebrating the completion and full ownership of the building.
Transitioning to current day, former state Rep. Deborah Berry took the reins at the station in mid 2017 after the death of former President and University of Northern Iowa professor Scharron Clayton. Prior to Ms. Clayton, long time president Lou Porter retired in 2014. Every day, Ms. Berry looks at the large portrait of station founder Jimmie Porter, who passed away in 2007, and hopes she’s living up to the station’s original mission to “communicate to educate” and be a valued resource for the community.
“We have to really adapt to the society that we live in today, with the competition of Sirrius XM, Internet radio and your iPhone,” Berry said. Also, the programming has to be live and local. “We’re getting back to live bodies and live people talking about current and local affairs that affect people’s lives,” she said. “It’s working out well.”
She also has at her side Porter’s daughter, Edyce Porter, who has been at the station most of its existence. She has been a steady resource behind the scenes, but is behind the scenes no longer. Berry has made her community outreach director.
“It’s a new direction. It’s a new KBBG,” Berry said. “The groundwork has been laid by Mr. Porter, by Lou Porter. When I came on board I was asked to move it ahead further. As long as I can guide this ship, I will guide this ship. Things are looking very good for the station.”
AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK (SBN)
KBBG-FM 88.1 has been the training ground for a number of Waterloo residents who later went on to successful careers in television and radio broadcasting. KBBG-FM 88.1 is positive proof of what can be accomplished with dedicated community support.
When KBBG began broadcasting , they had a five mile coverage radius, 10 watts of power and a staff of volunteers. Today KBBG covers over a 60 mile radius, 10,000 watts of power and is the largest African - American owned and operated station in Iowa.
KBBG-FM 88.1 is an affiliate of the American Urban Radio Network (SBN), the largest African-American radio news network in the United States. KBBG is also a member supported of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Washington, D.C.