Live and direct 

KCOU offers Mizzou students a shot at producing their own radio shows -- and making lifelong friendships. 

Kenny Van Doren and Payton Havermann
KCOU on-air hosts Kenny Van Doren, left, and Payton Havermann. “There are people here that I will be friends with till the day I die,” Van Doren said. Emma Reiser/University of Missouri

By Maddy Stout

Talking sports, cracking jokes, spending time with friends — for Payton Havermann, Jack Knowlton and Kenny Van Doren, this is the foundation of careers in broadcast journalism.

Every Friday, the three juniors host “The Unwritten Rule,” a comedic sports show on KCOU, Mizzou’s student run radio station.

Before they go live on the air, however, they have written a script for the show. They have interacted with fans on Twitter and lined up an on-air guest. They have learned all this by being involved at KCOU.

“I found KCOU to be a lot of fun,” Havermann said. “It does better my professional skills for the future.”

KCOU has been providing Mizzou students the chance to experience the behind-the-scenes world of radio for 48 years.

When KCOU first went on the air on Oct. 31, 1973 — Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” was the first song played — it became the first radio station in the United States to be licensed to a student group within a university, not the university administration.

Today, KCOU is still run by students, covering music, news and sports. The current staff of roughly 200 people produces more than 60 shows each week.

To join the ranks, interested students must first fill out an application for one of the three departments: music, news and sports. Applications are open to all students no matter their major and prior radio experience.

“KCOU is for everyone,” Van Doren said. “Everyone here wants to help. Everyone here wants you to excel in the radio field.”

Want to join KCOU? Apply for a position today!

Students learn everything from working with the equipment to producing and hosting a show.

“It’s the perfect way to get experience on radio,” Havermann said. “It is run pretty professionally for a student run organization, so it can prepare you pretty well for a professional radio station. More than anything else, it’s just a lot of fun.”

KCOU provides students with many opportunities to get real-world experience. Students are offered the chance to cover different Mizzou sporting events live. Students also have the possibility to meet peers who share the same passion for music, news, or sports.

“Beyond the professional development in resume building for myself, I built a lot of friendships here,” Van Doren said. “I think there are a lot of people here that I will probably invite to my wedding one day. There are people here that I will be friends with till the day I die.”

Music applications closed Sept. 15, but news and sports applications remain open indefinitely. The music application will reopen in the spring semester. All applications can be found on MU Engage.

“What do you really have to lose?” KCOU General Manager Sean Day said. “Take the dive and come meet some people. You might enjoy yourself.”

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