Paul Westhelle

Executive Director

Paul Westhelle oversees management of JPR's daily operations and service to the community.  He came to JPR in 1990 as Associate Director of Broadcasting for Marketing and Development after holding jobs in non-profit management and fundraising for a national health agency.

Paul grew up in northern New Jersey just outside New York City.  As a student at Seton Hall University he developed a love for live music romping around Greenwich Village clubs. He traveled west in 1981 to attend San Jose State University where he graduated with a B.A. from its School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Paul believes the meaning of life can be found in public radio and baseball. He’s coached several of Ashland's outstanding youth baseball teams and served as Head Coach of the Ashland High School Varsity team in 2012.

Paul and his wife, Patti Grant, live in Ashland. They have two adult children, Kelsey and Evan.

In the September/October, 2019 issue of the Jefferson Journal, I reported on our initiative to improve regional news coverage.  In that column, I wrote that the linchpin of this effort will be “timely, fact-based reporting” and “stories that explain complex regional issues.” In late November, JPR News reported on two stories that I believe deliver on our goals for a stronger regional news operation and indicate that we’re headed in the right direction.  Both stories went on to receive significant national attention following JPR’s reporting.

As JPR completes its 50th anniversary year and NPR looks ahead to marking its golden anniversary in 2020, I thought it would be interesting to visit some of the founding documents that established public broadcasting as an American institution.

Newsroom News

Sep 1, 2019

It’s been a busy time at JPR. We’ve made significant progress advancing the expansion of our newsroom, with the goal of strengthening our local and regional journalism for both our radio listeners and digital audience.

JPR Pioneers

Jun 13, 2019

On May 21st JPR celebrated its 50th anniversary.  50 years is a long time in the media world.  Programming tastes change, technology changes -- and through the decades every successful media organization has needed to evolve and adapt.  At the same time, every media enterprise that has endured has needed to remain true to itself -- to know who it is and what it’s trying to accomplish.

Fifty years ago today, on May 21st, 1969, Jefferson Public Radio’s flagship station KSOR signed on the air for the first time.

JPR News Director Liam Moriarty recently sat down with JPR Executive Director Paul Westhelle to share some reflections – and some archival audio -- from our past half-century. 

Thanks to former JPR executive director Ron Kramer and former program director and current Jefferson Exchange producer John Baxter who helped with this story.


I’ve been thinking a lot about citizen-funded journalism recently.  Likely, it’s because we’re in the midst of our Spring Fund Drive making the case to our listeners for our public service mission.  

But, deeper than that, I’ve been observing momentum within a broader segment of institutions supporting the idea that citizen-funded journalism, stewarded by non-profit organizations, should become a more prominent and important part of our journalism ecosystem.

NPR | Stephen Voss

During the coming months, NPR will be convening leaders of stations around the country to explore a new way for member stations and NPR to work together in the years ahead.

Dubbed “The NPR-Member Station Compact” the effort seeks to replace the current relationship, that is primarily a producer-purchaser model in which NPR produces programs and stations buy them, with one that is deeper, more interdependent and dynamic.

The goal of the compact is to achieve three objectives:

NPR Head Steps Down

Jan 1, 2019
Steven Voss | NPR

In early December, NPR chief executive Jarl Mohn announced that he would be stepping down as head of the network this coming June. In the years before Mohn took the helm at NPR, the NPR chief executive was a relatively distant and disconnected player for most local public radio stations. 

Over the course of the last year, there has been a conversation taking shape among NPR and member stations to define the “culture of journalism” that exists within our national public radio system. 

Central to this conversation are several questions being discussed by journalists and public radio leaders from across the public media landscape. A piece written earlier this year by NPR Standards and Practices Editor Mark Memmott lays out these questions:

• Is there a “culture of journalism” at NPR and those member stations that operate local newsrooms?

A New Normal

Sep 1, 2018
LIAM MORIARTY/JPR NEWS

During the past several weeks, the JPR news department has been at work covering one of the most active and destructive fire seasons in Southern Oregon and Northern California history.  

JPR Broadcast Center

Aug 13, 2018
Kim Budd

JPR moved to its state-of-the-art broadcast center on the Southern Oregon University (SOU) campus in July, 2018.  The facility is a component of The Oregon Center for the Arts (OCA) complex, which houses SOU’s theater program and is adjacent to the SOU Music Building.  Together these spaces create an arts and culture hub on the SOU campus. 

The facility supports JPR's service to the region and also creates an environment that enhances our ability to mentor students.

Some of the key features of the new facility include: 

JPR Gets A New Home

Jun 29, 2018

Update 7/11/2018 | 9:00am -- Our engineer continues to work to return all our services to normal. These are the issues we are currently aware of:

Online: Some programming is interrupted by static.

Classics & News:  In some regions the programming is airing at a higher volume than the announcements. 

Thank you for your patience as we work to resolve these issues.

Good Listening

May 1, 2018

Over the past several years, I’ve written extensively in this space about collaborations that have been developing among public radio stations and NPR which are creating better and more efficient news coverage for public radio listeners. The idea is pretty simple—local stations and NPR can accomplish more with fewer resources if we work together, share content and create an organizational framework to coordinate and leverage the work of our journalists and reporters.

Forging Ahead

Mar 1, 2018

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.

I admire the skills of accomplished interviewers. The ability to formulate a logical set of questions that tells a concise, interesting story while cutting to the heart of a complex issue is truly an art. Add to this the interviewer’s role as an active listener who must be able to veer from a planned narrative direction when the interview subject reveals something unexpected or presents a complex or questionable set of data.

It’s been an interesting time to work in public media. On the up side, there’s been an amazing renaissance in the oral tradition.

Podcasts, public radio and other on-demand audio platforms have attracted new and younger audiences for the art of audio storytelling, fueling a surge in the innovative and creative work of artists, journalists and audio producers. 

Pushing People Up

Sep 1, 2017

In the alphabet soup of public broadcasting acronyms, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), often takes a back seat to more familiar organizations like NPR, PBS and even well established local stations. 

Moving Forward

Jun 29, 2017

It’s been a busy time at JPR with numerous projects moving forward. I thought it might be useful to share a glimpse of some of the major initiatives and developments in which we’ve been engaged that will allow us to advance our service to the region. 

Federal Funding

On March 16th, the Trump administration released its FY2018 budget outline which includes a provision to eliminate annual grants to public radio and television stations through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  Ultimately, Congress will make the final decision on continuing the annual federal investment that supports JPR and other public radio and television stations across the country. This support totals $1.35 per citizen per year for all public radio and television stations, and just 30 cents per citizen annually for radio stations alone.

In the last issue of the Jefferson Journal I wrote about the uncertainty surrounding continued federal funding for public broadcasting following the 2016 election. Since the beginning of the year several developments have taken place that inform this issue. But, before exploring these recent developments, here’s an overview of how federal funding fits into the public broadcasting ecosystem and supports JPR’s service to Southern Oregon and Northern California communities:

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