Monday, 15 July 2024

KPFZ: County grant will make a difference


Lake County Community Radio, a nonprofit corporation, is assured of space for its transmitter on Mt. Konocti, in a deal reached last week, and has firm offers of studio space in Lucerne, Clearlake and Lakeport. He declined to go into detail, but said long negotiations over the Mt. Konocti space have concluded with a new, locally-owned, corporation.

KPFZ would join PEG TV, Lake County TV, a ham radio transmitter, Yuba College and Edge Wireless on the mountain’s Buckingham Peak. The land is owned by the Fowler family; attorney Peter Windrem has conducted the negotiation.

The full power station should be on the air at 88.1 FM about six months after the money is in hand.

KPFZ goes before the Lake County Board of Supervisors at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, for a decision on its request for a one-time county grant of $30,000, which would be used as matching funds to secure a federal grant of more than $94,000 for equipment and construction of the antenna. The combined grants also will cover the first year’s operating expenses.

The request is for a grant from the contingency fund, which could be immediate, rather than for an item in the 2008 budget. It would require approval by four of the five supervisors, and Second District Supervisor has said he will not vote to spend public money to help the station.

Weiss urged the club members to “bombard all five supervisors” over the weekend with faxed or e-mailed messages of support, and to appear at the Tuesday meeting.

The club voted to give the station a $100 donation.

The supervisors have copies of the station’s business plan, which they requested Jan. 23, when KPFZ first asked for the grant.

Weiss said this year the station has held two fundraisers of its own, one a champagne buffet at Kelseyville’s Saw Shop restaurant, the other a presentation at Clearlake City hall by Dr. Peter Phillips, director of Project Censored, which is based at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park.

The assurance of studio space will let the station move from its home in Weiss’s laundry room and a tree at his Lucerne residence, where it’s been since the all-volunteer low-power station first went on the air at 104.5 FM on Sept. 2, 2001 — just nine days before the World Trade Center attack of 9/11. Its license is the first the FCC granted to a low-power station in California.

It has been on the air since then, although it went on hiatus in 2006 so programmers and board members could focus on fund raising. To keep its operating license, it broadcasts archive programs from 5 to 9 p.m. daily on its current 100-watts.

Weiss said he opposed asking for the county grant but was overruled by the board of directors. He said his concern was more self-censorship because “you look differently at people who’ve given you money,” than any restrictions which might be imposed by the county. He added there are no strings attached to the federal grant.

Present KPFZ board members are Susan Krones, chair; Taira St. John, vice-chair; Rhyschenda Owens, treasurer; Chloe Karl; Linda Guebert; and two men, secretary Chris Mallock and Tim Hoff.

The board will discuss programming on a retreat next weekend. KPFZ has historically had more Native American programming than any other station in California, he said.

It also has been a training ground for on-air work. Programmers who started at KPFZ and have moved on to other stations are Jackie Barshak, now at KPFA in Berkeley; Chloe Karl at KXBX in Lakeport; Clayton Duncan on KMEC in Mendocino County; and Tee Watts at KMOB in Clearlake. Weiss said he hopes that will continue.

He emphasized the importance of community radio both for a spectrum of independent views and for emergency service, since many commercial stations now are so automated they can’t broadcast emergency messages.

Weiss said the Telecommunications Act of 1996 “opened the floodgates” to ownership of multiple media outlets by a few companies.

KPFZ is getting training in underwriting from the staff at KZYX and Z, Mendocino County’s listener-supported station (90.7 and 91.5 FM). “They’ve been so supportive my head falls off,” he said.

Underwriting is financial support without commercials, common on public stations.

Other media outlets, including public access Channel 8, have offered help and commercial station KXBX in Lakeport has offered to supply its news feeds to KPFZ, Weiss said.

E-mail Sophie Annan Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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