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Thursday, May 14, 2009

KMHD could be on the rocks

An alert reader reports that the board of Mount Hood Community College has voted to turn the college's radio station, KMHD (motto: "Jazz, blues, and NPR News"), over to Oregon Public Broadcasting. "I'm afraid this is the beginning of the end for KMHD," the reader writes. I would tend to agree with that assessment.

Comments (11)

I hope not, although as long as they keep the volunteer hosts it should be fine. I've been listening for the last 15 years (seriously) and love it.


This is really unfortunate. KMHD was a pure jazz music station that played to every venue and taste. OPB will slowly politicize KMHD to fit the progressive left mold of public radio. They most certainly censor content by controlling play lists and DJ’s. The only independent venue left will be KBOO.

This is a bummer. Friday blues is a staple for me. Plus, I switch daily from OPB for the NPR news updates on the hour because OPB cuts into the full update to do Oregon news that I've already read about.

MHCC can't run a non-profit, volunteer staffed radio station at minimal cost so the answer is to turn it over to a bunch of bureaucrats who only know how to spend money and not conserve it? Well that makes plenty of sense to me.

When I went to MHCC in the early 80's it seems to me they ran that station out of a broom closet in the basement next door to the mortuary science classrooms. Perhaps they need to get back to their roots.

My last comment on this was deleted, but I'll try to be less caustic this time...

After OPB takes over, MHCC will earn $18K a year or 15% of gross underwriting revenues, as opposed to losing money on operating the station. This is probably a good thing for a cash-strapped community college. OPB folks (or "a bunch of bureaucrats" if you prefer) actually have expertise in running public-service radio stations and have managed to do so quite successfully for 85+ years. OPB has even agreed to keep the jazz format in place for three years and must jump through a bunch of hoops to make any format change after that.

Also, I wouldn't hold up KBOO as the paragon of excellence in Portland non-commercial radio. It tries to be all things to all people (or at least to all members of the progressive proletarian classes), and as a result the programing is uneven, unprofessional, and irregular (in the bad way).

I'll try to be less caustic this time...

Thank you.

If you "professionalize" KMHD, it won't be the same. Inexperienced DJs, dead air moments, flaky PSA's, "out there" tracks -- it's all part of the charm. If you turn it into another crisp, clean OPB, then even with the same playlist, it will be bland by comparison.

the programing is uneven, unprofessional, and irregular (in the bad way)

No, it's in a good way. Democracy isn't neat and tidy.

This entire fiasco has been reported by the Gresham Review for the past few weeks. It was initiated by the new Mt. Hood C.C. President who has "claimed" the station can't support itself. Of course, there was never any written "proof" shown to the public to support that decision. I honestly think it's just a way to rid the College of a broadcast program that will likely require some expensive technology updates in the next year or two.
And of course, the broadcast students who live mostly in East County, will have a long commute to get to OPB assuming their program lasts another year or two.

I've come to believe that responding to blogs is a bad idea, and haven't done so in years. But since I read yours, I will.
I'm on the Board at Mt. Hood.
Here's a piece I wrote a month ago about why this will work (only about 6 people seem to have read it, because it was on the Big O's online "stump", not in the paper)
I believe this is what's best for the college and KMHD. It will remain a jazz station. The Board would not even consider it otherwise. As one commenter pointed out, there is specific language in the term sheet to protect the format. The fact is that there was nothing that protected the format - other than tradition - for the last 20 years. Now it's in a contract. Jack, the DJs are are staying too.
We heard testimony from most of the volunteers who actually operate the station and serve as DJs, and they were nearly all in enthusiastic support. I received a good amount of email from station donors, listeners, and supporters, and it was split pretty evenly. Students in the Integrated Media program will get much better opportunities - more radio options and TV with OPB, plus convergence with online stuff and more. Believe it or not, students hardly had any involvement with KMHD for the last several years. It's embarrassing, but true. We had some serious dysfunction going on in the station, and it was time to get things moving forward.
We didn't sell KMHD to Clear Channel or Entercom or some national behemoth that'll satellite in the programming. Mt. Hood will continue to own it, and OPB will operate it, with the volunteer DJs and all. We put MHCC's President on the OPB Board as part of the agreement, so we stay on top of the operation.
I respect your scrutiny of local government, but this wasn't some kind of "lynchpin" condo deal.
For a lot of reasons, Mt. Hood needs a lot of change, in image and operation. This is a great opportunity for this college to help itself, our students, and KMHD. Please give it a chance.
Duke Shepard

They will screw it up. Trust me.

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