History of Spinnaker
Spinnaker Radio began in 1993 as the University of North Florida Broadcasting Association, a club under the supervision of communications Professor Joe Lesem. The station quickly expanded when Continental Cablevision, the cable provider for Jacksonville at the time, donated equipment and allowed what was then known as Osprey Radio to provide the background music for the programming guide on channel 4.
This arrangement ended when MediaOne brought out Continental Cablevision. After that, Spinnaker Radio broadcast its signal on two closed-circuit cable channels on campus: channel 12, the Housing channel, and channel 58, the Osprey TV channel.
Spinnaker Radio was given space in Building 2, an old teachers’ lounge about 150 square feet in area with an attached outdoor balcony.
In summer 2000, Spinnaker Radio was elevated from club status and included in a new umbrella organization called the Center for Student Media along with the student newspaper, the Spinnaker, and Osprey TV. Under Senate legislation SB-00SA-1342A, each student media outlet was transferred from Student Government and Club Alliance to the Office of Student Development (now Student Affairs) under the Division of Student Affairs.
At the turn of the century, Spinnaker Radio pursued an LP-FM license, but the rules didn’t allow for it in the Jacksonville market.
In January 2001, Spinnaker Radio coordinated with Computer Services (now Information Technology Services) on a venture that would change the path of Spinnaker Radio forever. The formation of a university Web stream allowed Spinnaker Radio to simultaneously broadcast its signal to millions of potential listeners on the Internet, with a maximum of 200 concurrent listeners.
By 2011, Spinnaker Radio had gained enough prominence to be a finalist in the run for CMJ’s Best Student-Run Internet-Only radio station. It continued to be a finalist for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 school years.
2013 changed everything for the online-only radio station. In July, it dropped its original name, Osprey Radio, and joined Spinnaker Media. It renamed itself as Spinnaker Radio to reflect the change. In collaboration with UNF, Spinnaker Radio applied to the Federal Communications Commission for an LP-FM license. Impatiently, students waited for the day when they would find out if the FM dream would come true.
On February 6th, 2014, it happened.
Spinnaker Radio was granted a construction permit to build an LP-FM radio station. It was decided that the station would broadcast at 100 watts of effective radiated power, which generally would reach 2.5 miles from the antenna. Spinnaker Radio chose the call letters WSKR.
This began a long, arduous process for the radio station staff and volunteers as they figured out how to pay for the broadcast equipment and as they waited patiently for construction.
Finally, on March 17th, 2015, a climbing crew installed Spinnaker Radio’s very own antenna on UNF’s north tower. The legal ID could be heard for the first time over the air on WSKR-LP 95.5 FM. After about a month, on April 13th, Spinnaker Radio officially launched on the FM airwaves. The station can be heard throughout much of southern and eastern Jacksonville, ranging as far as the Beaches, Mandarin, and Arlington.