Ohio University in the late 1960's was overrun with small dorm radio stations that transmitted through the buildings' electrical wiring. This method of broadcasting, known as carrier current, had recently become extremely cheap to install and operate, thus the outbreak of over ten independent dormitory stations. Students pitched the idea of having all dorm stations link into a network that would provide news feeds throughout the day. Associate Professor Archie Greer was named advisor, two news shows were developed, and the All Campus Radio Network was born. On April 4th, 1971, ACRN began its first broadcast to its network affiliates. By 1972, its programming had expanded to playing free form jazz and progressive rock during lunch and dinner times.
After a move to larger studios and offices in 1974, ACRN began broadcasting 24 hours a day. More importantly, a link was made to Continental Cable of Athens, which then transmitted ACRN to a large number of off-campus residents. A controversial debate ensued on whether ACRN could sell commercials until then-OU-president Claude Sowle granted permission. In 1976, ACRN received a loan from the OU Credit Union to purchase FM stereo equipment, and was soon feeding Continental Cable a powerful stereo signal. On an interesting note, an initial non-interest loan from the Credit Union was refused due to pressure from locally owned radio station WATH. By pioneering stereo cable FM and being the first to adapt the industry standard Optimod FM (1978) to cable, ACRN made radio history. Throughout the 1980's, ACRN continued to grow. Despite local professional station's allegations that ACRN was unfair competition, ACRN's sales revenue increased. Surprisingly, this also came at a time when the campus link (the original dorm stations) was practically non- existent. Ironically, the All Campus Radio Network could no longer be heard on campus. The push was on to get the University to install cable, and thus ACRN, into the dorms.
In January of 1995, over twenty years of pressure on the University finally paid off as the CATVision University Cable System was installed into every residence hall on campus. Cable FM was also offered to students, which carried ACRN and the now defunct East, South, and West Green (dorm) stations. ACRN went to an all New Rock format to increase listenership in the dorms.
In 1996, The School of Telecommunications (now the School of Media Arts & Studies) took several offices from ACRN and used the space to create a state-of-the-art recording studio to which ACRN would supposedly have unlimited access. This forced ACRN into a smaller space and then-GM Tom Kurtz began to push for ACRN’s inclusion in the planning of the new Baker University Center.
Because of a lack of funding and rising FCC costs—and because of a history of safe harbor violations—ACRN was forced to cease its CaFM broadcasts at the end of 1998. In 1999, it began to utilize a web server to stream broadcasts 24/7 with a link on its up-and-coming web site at ACRN.com. This transition caused the sales and traffic departments to shrink due to a more complicated business model, and the station began to look to its mobile and promotions departments for fundraising and exposure in the community.
In January 2007, the new Baker University Center opened its doors and ACRN began to operate from Suite 329, a larger space with more limited access. Since the move, ACRN has continued to renovate its identity with a solid business plan, new web content, and refocused departments. Talks have begun with the College of Communication about creating a space for ACRN in the Schoonover Center for Communication, slated to open sometime after 2013. This space would put ACRN back with other communication organizations and resources and would give the station 24-hour access once again. It is hoped that ACRN’s third location will be its final location and will provide everything the station needs to be most successful.