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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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KFMD-FM D-93 RADIO. Radio station KFMD, a stereo high fidelity radio station began broadcasting in Dubuque in 1967. One of the most powerful radio stations in the mid-West, the program was able to reach an estimated one million people living within a 21,000 square-mile area in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. The new station was licensed by the Telegraph-Herald. (1)

Establishing the call letters for the station led to the discovery that they had been assigned to a ship in the merchant marine. Further investigation revealed that the ship had been retired so the Bureau of Ships agreed to release the letters to the new station. (2)

Engineering facilities and programming had been under development since 1963. Programming originated from the station's studios at 346 West Eighth Avenue. This was beamed across the MISSISSIPPI RIVER to the transmitting site in Wisconsin via microwave. (3)

Seeking to give area rock musicians greater publicity, KFMB agreed in 1980 to produce an album called BASEMENT TAPES featuring seven area rock groups. The 2,200 copies of the record were sold for $3.93 at fifteen local record stores, department stores and bars where the groups usually performed. The estimated $3,000 in earning from the sales was designated for United Way of Dubuque. Further publicizing the album, the station sponsored a Battle of the Bands on November 17th at the FIVE FLAGS CIVIC CENTER. Four area rock groups performed for judges from such international recording companies as Atlantic, Electra, Columbia, EMI, MCA, and Epic giving the competing bands much more in publicity that the prizes ranging from $250 to $1,000. (4)

By 1981 D93's 18-to 24-year-old listeners and music-director Steve SESTERHENN had made the station a top indicator for recording stars looking to reach the magical Top 40 rankings. KFMD was one of fifteen test markets for Top 40 rock. (5)

The 1985 Dubuque City Directory listed 346 W. 8th.




1. "KFMD to Start Broadcasting Early Next Year," Telegraph-Herald, December 11, 1966, p. 25

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Darlin, Damon, "Album Brings Exposure to Dubuque-Area Bands," Telegraph Herald, November 13, 1980, p. 15

5. Johnson, Elaine, "D93's Sesterhenn Picks Hits for the Rock Record Industry," Telegraph Herald, February 19, 1981, p. 7 Italic text