New public radio station
There are already three public FM stations serving Humboldt County. Soon there will be a fourth.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved the transfer of Humboldt County radio station KMGX-107.3 FM to Jefferson Public Radio (JPR), a regional network owned by Southern Oregon University based in Ashland, Ore.
JPR purchased the station from John Neuhoff of New York City and engineers are hoping to begin broadcasting by the end of January. The new station, KNHT, will have 3,300 watts of operating power with a transmitter on Bunker Hill near Ferndale.
Why is an Oregon-based media moving into an already crowded public radio market? That depends on who you ask.
According to KHSU Development Director Charles Horn, "This has grown out of a situation in Crescent City when we applied for funding and licensing in 1994 to bring a full-service station into Del Norte County."
KHSU's applications were successful and in 1997 they were assigned a frequency by the FCC within the narrow window reserved for noncommercial FM stations.
Paul Westhelle, development director for JPR said, "KHSU chose a frequency that is something we call "first adjacent" to our translator there. Even though we served Crescent City since 1981, because KHSU was proposing to build a transmitter, that would get priority. We didn't have any legal defense for that other than to file on top of them or to basically try to foil their plans there, which we didn't want to do.
"We were willing to let them serve Crescent City and share that community, competing for listeners like many other communities that we share," Westhelle said. "We tried to negotiate with KHSU to move their frequency so it would not interfere with our translator, which they declined to do."
Under FCC rules primary or transmitter stations, those with call letters, take precedence over secondary (translator) stations.
KHSU Station Manager and Chief Engineer Terry Green explained:
"The difference between a primary and secondary service is that a primary service has a legal responsibility to produce programs that address issues in the local community. A translator does not have the same obligation. It can just rebroadcast programming from another station."
Green says moving to another frequency was never even an option. FCC's noncommercial frequencies are below 92 FM and they cannot displace an existing primary service. In this case, KVIQ-TV Channel 6, a primary service, broadcasts between 82 and 88 which leaves little room in the noncommercial portion of the band. KHSU's new sister station, KHSR, was assigned to 91.9. JPR's existing translator was broadcasting at 91.7.
The result was when KHSR began broadcasting last year, some of JPR's Crescent City listeners could no longer hear the Oregon station. By then JPR was already searching for a new frequency.
"We were going to be replaced by KHSU," said Westhelle, "and that's really what got us looking at the North Coast of California. We applied for several frequencies in Crescent City and they were counter-filed by religious broadcasters. We looked for other opportunities and were unsuccessful.
"KHSU has not been willing to talk basically since the beginning of this whole thing. They knocked us off the air in Crescent City, we did something about it. We continued to try to form a dialogue with them, but they don't want to talk with us."
According to Westhelle, JPR had also received requests from Humboldt residents inquiring about adding service locally.
"Over the years we've had enough to do developing our service here in the Rogue Valley and in Northern California where we serve Siskiyou and Shasta counties," he said. "With the existence of KHSU in Arcata we didn't pursue that very aggressively. Another public station, KZPN started up and we felt there was probably enough public radio there."
KZPN 91.5 FM is run by Monica Olsen from her home on Kneeland Mountain. At one time Olsen was a volunteer classical DJ on KHSU, but following a disagreement with the station over the amount of classical programming, she decided she would start her own station. The fact that her husband, Lee, was an engineer made it somewhat easy. Since 1992 she has been broadcasting classical music and BBC programming without government assistance.
Until 1991 JPR programmed a mix of music in various styles and NPR news and features. At that point they began running two separate services "Rhythm and News Service" features jazz, blues, folk, world music, pop, and new acoustic music interspersed with NPR and other news sources. "Classical and News Service" mixes NPR programming with classical music mostly programmed by deejays at Ashland's KSOR. More recently they have added a third all-news service on two Oregon AM stations.
KNHT will broadcast the JPR classical/news format which is more similar to KZPN than to KHSU. As to the potential impact on her station, Monica Olsen said, "It could be inconsequential or it could be devastating, I don't know."
Westhelle said, "We have talked with Monica and Lee and they're going to change some of their programming around so that during the hours we are providing classical music they will do the BBC and vice versa. When we have news, they will do classical music."
"If I were not malleable," said Olsen, "then I would not be serving the best interests of my listeners."
Olsen's home operation is minuscule compared to JPR. Her 550-watt transmitter covers a small area. Her annual budget, all from private donations, totals $1,500. JPR has grown from a 10-watt campus station founded 30 years ago at Southern Oregon College to become a $1.8 million-a-year media empire.
The network runs its three radio services on 10 transmitters and 36 translators more than any public station in the nation plus they offer an Internet service provider for subscribers called JeffNet. JPR also puts on concerts, runs a publishing division and recently purchased the Cascade Theatre in Redding, which is being transformed into a performing arts center at a cost of more than $1 million.
In an interview with the Medford, Ore.-based Mail Tribune, JPR Executive Director Ron Kramer said, "This is where radio is going. I think public radio in small places in 2010 just won't be there. They'll be absorbed by larger stations or they'll be diversified as Internet providers, book publishing, concert presenters. The ones that survive will have durable connections to their communities in the form of the Internet, theater, book publishing and so on."
And how will the arrival of this media giant effect KHSU?
"I think it will primarily attract people whose primary interest in public radio is classical music," said Green. "Eighty percent of KSOR's Classical and News Service is classical music. That's not true for KZPN, KMUD or KHSU. For KHSU the question turns on how many of our listeners will move from us to JPR.
"We have some apprehension. If classical listeners greatly prefer JPR's presentation, that's where they will tune their dial. And if they don't listen to KHSU, it's not likely they will support us.
"The question for public radio listening in Humboldt County is: how high is up? Nationally about 1 in 10 people listen to public radio. In Humboldt County it's I out of 4. With the addition of JPR, will it be 1 out of 3 or will the pie stay the same size which means less member support for the stations that rely on that. It will take a while to know, but we will find out."
reported by Bob Doran
Probation terms unclear?
Attorneys for former Sunny Brae Middle School teacher Michael Shaddix were back in court last week to answer questions regarding the terms of their client's probation.They never got a chance.
Judge Dale Reinholtzen called attorneys Greg Rael and William Bragg, along with Deputy District Attorney Maggie Fleming, into his chambers. When they emerged, the hearing was rescheduled for Jan. 21.
Shaddix was released on probation in November to his home in Mariposa County after serving four months of a six-month sentence for felony child abuse. He was originally charged with sexually molesting two former junior high school students between 1989 and 1991. The women came forward with allegations once they became adults. The case ended with a hung jury in January 1999 and Shaddix pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of child abuse.
In a court document filed Dec. 22, a Humboldt County probation officer requested clarification from the court concerning probation terms. Shaddix was required to provide written proof that he had permanently surrendered his teaching credential, enroll and complete a class in child abuse counseling, and not to be around children unsupervised other than his own.
The document said Shaddix is requesting that he be able to visit the classroom where his wife teaches and that he had not provided required documentation.
Attorney Rael said, "Many of the problems referred to in the (court document) was the result of a misunderstanding between my office and the (Humboldt County) Probation Department. My client is in complete compliance with his probation."
Rael said he expects the problems "will be resolved" making the hearing on Jan. 21 unnecessary.
Preteen vaccine scene
As a reminder to parents of sixth graders, California Preteen Vaccine Week will be observed Jan. 17-23.
With the new state law, sixth graders are required to receive a series of hepatitis B immunizations before starting the seventh grade in the fall. Approximately 400,000 sixth graders in the next six months will need to visit their doctor at least three times to complete the series.
"The importance of this requirement is that the county's seventh graders will be protected against the deadly hepatitis B virus," said Dr. Ann Lindsay, Humboldt County health officer.
Hepatitis B shots are already required for children attending child care or entering kindergarten in California. The vaccine has been available since 1982, but most sixth graders have not received the vaccine because it did not become a routine infant immunization until 1991.
Hepatitis B is usually acquired by adolescents and is caused by a highly infectious virus that attacks the liver. If left untreated, the virus can cause cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
Only party members count
Regardless of party affiliation, on March 7 a registered voter will be able to cast a ballot for any candidate running for office from any of the declared parties under California's open primary law.
However, voters should be aware that if they are not registered with the party of their choice, their vote will not count in the selection of their presidential candidate.
In the selection of delegates for the national political party conventions, only votes by members registered in that party will be counted because it is those delegates who will determine their party's nominee.
In order to affiliate with a party or to change party affiliation, voters must register. The last day to register for the March primary is Feb. 7.
Training tomorrow's leaders
Providing a new opportunity to bring individuals from the community into a collaborative leadership program, the inaugural Cascadia Leadership Training Program will be launched this weekend by the Humboldt Area Foundation.
Cascadia, a center for leadership, was first developed with the idea that leadership needs to involve a diversity of citizens from business, government, education and neighborhoods. This two-day training program will focus on a collaborative action which hopes to achieve a greater common good by developing shared responsibility.
Julie Fulkerson, program director of Cascadia and former Humboldt County supervisor, has been working the past few months to develop the first training series. She said she intends to draw directly on the talents and expertise of community resources for the training and to include the participation of outside facilitators.
"We want Cascadia's participants to interact and build relationships," she said.
The Cascadia program consists of five monthly two-day seminars for 35 people. A selection committee, which is part of the design process, chose individuals from throughout the county.
"We have a stunning group of individuals," Fulkerson said. "There are people from Orick, Hoopa, Southern Humboldt and Northern Humboldt."
The workshops and activities will focus on leadership skills, community skills and team building.
"Cascadia wants applicants who have been involved in community improvement efforts, who have a commitment to their communities, and who have the potential to grow as leaders," Fulkerson said.
reported by Amanda Lang and Judy Hodgson