KEMC began broadcasting in 1972 with a one-room studio/office and a ten-watt transmitter from Eastern Montana College (now Montana State University-Billings), which served only a portion of the Billings, Montana area. While the quality of the signal and the programming were not the best, they whet the appetite of the community for a stronger, more professional public station.
With financial support from the Public Broadcasting Facilities Program, Burlington Northern Foundation, Joseph Sample, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Eastern Montana College (MSU-Billings), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, KEMC made major improvements between 1978 and 1989. The station increased signal strength to 24,500 watts in 1978, moved into larger studio and office space (a three-bedroom house just west of campus) in 1983, hired a professional studio manager and became affiliated with National Public Radio in 1984, and increased signal strength to 100,000 watts in 1989.
The 1990s ushered in even more sweeping changes. Significant remodeling to the house transformed the former residence into the Joseph S. Sample Studios. In June, 1994, Mr. Sample was honored for his decades of service promoting and funding public broadcasting in Montana. KEMC was re-named Yellowstone Public Radio to reflect its growth to four stations and over 25 translators, which broadcast to central and eastern Montana as well as northern Wyoming.
By the end of the 1990s, Yellowstone Public Radio entered the digital age with a presence on the World Wide Web, followed by live audio streaming, on-demand archived audio, and the ability to fundraise online with a secure, encrypted pledge form.
Throughout its three decades of development as a regional public radio station, Yellowstone Public Radio's growth has depended on a wide network of dedicated volunteers and financial sponsors. Without them, Yellowstone Public Radio might well still be broadcasting to a few neighborhoods instead of what is one of the largest geographical areas of any public radio station.