If the recently proposed takeover of KMHD-FM operations by Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) goes through, this will be the future home of “Jazz, Blues, and NPR News” for the Portland metro area.

Steve Bass, president and CEO of OPB, invited KMHD’s volunteer announcers to attend one of two meetings this week, the first Thursday night, April 2, the other at 10AM this morning. The meetings were to serve two purposes: To allow him to try to convey to KMHD’s volunteers OPB’s present vision for the future of KMHD; and for OPB’s staff and KMHD’s staff to have an opportunity to meet.

He also wanted to address the fact that there are a number of rumors being spread on blogs, etc., by people who have not even spoken with him or anyone else at OPB and that many of those rumors are not true.

As an added bonus, the KMHD volunteers were given a tour of OPB’s facility on SW Macadam Avenue, just south of downtown Porltand. One stop on the tour was the room that will become KMHD’s home if the deal goes through (photo above). The new studio will be somewhat smaller than our current digs, but the other potential benefits of the move should outweigh that small consideration.

I attended the meeting held this morning, along with volunteer DJ’s Marcia Hocker, George Fendel, Jere Lee, Shawn Kirkeby, Rich Miller, Mike Meyer, Ric Mancuso, Paula Walker, Bob Steffen, Tim Taylor, Sean Brennan, Lynn Darroch, Brad Brenner, Jeremy Appleton, Homer Clark, and a couple of other folks whose names unfortunately just went right out of my head. Former KMHD general manager Doug Sweet also attended.

As mentioned in the Mount Hood Community College (MHCC) press release you will find in a post below dated March 25, MHCC has proposed that OPB take over complete responsibility for the operation of KMHD. MHCC would retain ownership of the station’s FCC license, and the city of license will remain Gresham. Something else OPB hopes will stay unchanged is the volunteers whose dedication has kept KMHD alive for 25 years.

A lot of details are up in the air at the moment, and nothing concrete will happen until the proposal is approved by the MHCC Board next month.

Steve Bass told us that OPB is committed to maintain KMHD as a jazz and blues oriented FM radio station and OPB does NOT plan on changing KMHD to an all-talk, news format. He said there are absolutely no plans to introduce so-called “smooth jazz” into KMHD’s music mix, nor are there any plans to try and make KMHD more eclectic, a la KBOO. KBOO is a community FM station in Portland that is also operated by volunteers. Out of 31 stations in the Portland metro area, KBOO ranks 31st in listenership, and OPB does not want to see that happen to KMHD.

When asked if he would guarantee that KMHD would always remain a jazz and blues station, Steve responded that “forever is a long time”, and no he could not promise that 25 years from now KMHD will still have the same format it has today. BUT he also stated that at the present time he sees no reason why KMHD could not retain its present musical format indefinitely.

Presently at KMHD there is no program director; the DJ’s are all kings and queens of their own little worlds, as long as they stay within the station’s overall musical format. That is going to change. To what extent it’s going to change, or what effect that change will have on what the listener hears coming out of his speakers, remains to be seen, or heard. We will, apparently, still be programming our own shows.

One area of concern to a number of the KMHD volunteers (including yours truly) was the present handling of the music library. Several DJ’s spoke up in particular regarding the situation with new releases: 1) New CD’s are not being put into the new release shelf in the control room in a timely manner; and 2) Those that are put on the new release shelf always disappear forever after they are no longer “new” and are removed from the new release shelf. Steve assured us that the music library will be run in a professional manner and situations like we have at present will not occur.

The meeting started at a little after 10 AM and, including the question and answer session at the end, ran until after 11:30. We then went on a rather extensive tour, and that was that.

OPB recognizes KMHD as a valuable community resurce and has expressed the intention to do what needs to be done for KMHD to have a future.
Exactly what that future holds remains to be seen, but I personally feel very good about the near-term prospects.

[Note: In the original version of this article, the last sentence ended with the words “long-term prospects.” That was a rather large error on my part and I apologize for any misunderstanding caused by it. My only excuse is I was writing this in a hurry so I could finish and get ready to go do my show.]

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