As we get our feet under the new year here at JPR, we’re looking ahead to a number of service improvements for listeners.
While projects change from year to year, our efforts to improve our service consistently focus on three main objectives: strengthening our technical plant to serve our current audience better and reach new listeners; improving our programming, both on radio and in digital platforms; and becoming more effective raising funds to support our work.
In public radio, most significant improvements are multi-year efforts, requiring research, planning and a long-term perspective to achieve. This year we’re building on the groundwork we’ve laid during recent years and are looking forward to the culmination of several major initiatives.
Already in the win column in 2018 is the realization of a new translator that brings our Classics & News Service to Redding and Shasta County on 96.9FM. When a station in Red Bluff obtained approval by the FCC to increase its power and move to the same frequency we’ve used to broadcast our Classics & News Service since the 1980s, we knew it would force us off the air.
We also knew that there might be little we could do to solve the problem, since translators are defined by the FCC as secondary service and few vacant FM frequencies remain on the FM spectrum in Shasta County.
We're also actively working to provide our News and Information Service to our Southern Oregon coastal listeners.
However, through some creative engineering work, we were able to obtain a new frequency while at the same time significantly improving the technical capability of the new translator so that it provides much better coverage reaching an additional 17,000 potential Shasta County listeners. Our Classics & News Service is now humming along nicely on 96.9FM.
Other technical improvements achieved in this young year include increasing the power of our Classics & News Service station serving Humboldt County listeners (KNHT/102.5FM) from 3,500 watts to 4,500 watts and increasing the power of our Classics & News Service station serving Mt. Shasta and southern Siskiyou County listeners (KLDD/91.9FM) from 35 watts to 1,100 watts. Both of these initiatives have significantly improved service for listeners, providing a stronger signal and expanding the coverage area of our stations.
By far the most exciting and far-reaching project we’ll accomplish in 2018 is the completion of our new studio facility on the Southern Oregon University (SOU) campus. Scheduled for completion on March 15th, this new facility has been a major focus for the last three years. During a very short amount of time we’ve raised dedicated funds to support the project, engaged in a collaborative design process and brought construction to near completion. This new facility will dramatically improve every aspect of our work and have numerous long-term benefits for our organization. It will create a state-of-the-art professional facility from which to produce the JPR programming our listeners rely on each day. It will create a dynamic arts and culture hub on the SOU campus, connecting JPR to SOU’s highly regarded theatre and music programs. And, it will create new opportunities for JPR to engage the community in our mission with a dedicated live performance studio capable of accommodating a small audience, an expanded newsroom and new spaces for both SOU students and community volunteers to work. We look forward to bringing the new facility online as soon as possible when construction is completed so that we can begin realizing and developing the new opportunities this facility will make possible.
As we look beyond 2018, planning for projects we’ll accomplish in the years ahead, we’re working to secure frequencies to improve our News & Information Service in communities where we have opportunities based on FCC rules. We have just recently learned that we’ve been successful in getting FM frequencies in Grants Pass (for KAGI/930AM) and Roseburg (for KTBR/1280AM). Late last year we were successful securing FM frequencies for our Siskiyou County News & Information Service stations (KMJC/620 AM in Mt. Shasta and KSYC/1490AM in Yreka). And, we’re also actively working to provide our News & Information Service to our Southern Oregon coastal listeners.
Continuous improvement is a value that is a vital part of our organizational culture here at JPR. We remain mindful that it is a value we can only pursue thanks to the generosity and trust placed in us by our listeners. Every day we turn on a microphone we work to earn that trust.
Paul Westhelle is JPR’s Executive Director