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Mt. Hood college board approved a 5-year contract with OPB to continue to run the beloved station

PMG PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Steve Bass, president of Oregon Public Broadcasting, and Lisa Skari, president of Mt. Hood Community College, discuss KMHD radio after a college board meeting on Wednesday, March 20. After a great deal of controversy, the Mt. Hood Community College board decided to let Oregon Public Broadcasting continue to manage the jazz radio station KMHD.

The college owns the license for the station at 89.1 FM, but it has been managed by OPB for a decade and is operated out of OPB's Southwest Portland headquarters.

The board's 5-1 vote was met with rousing applause from the many KMHD supporters, who packed the last few college board meetings to support keeping KMHD at OPB.

"I'm pleased. This is a really good outcome for the thousands of people that rely on KMHD. It will be really good for the college too," said OPB President Steve Bass, indicating OPB was open to discussing contract changes that MHCC might want.

The board voted Wednesday, March 20, to instruct college President Lisa Skari to negotiate a five-year contract for KMHD with OPB. The only 'no' vote on the board was from Kenney Polson, a prominent local jazz musician.

There was interest among some at the college in moving the station back to the college and MHCC formed a committee to study the issue.

OPB rejected a two-year renewal contract the MHCC board had asked for so it could take more time to plan for the station's possible return to the college. That left the college with the option of a five-year renewal with OPB or bringing the station back to campus in a short time frame.

The committee Skari formed found substantial costs associated with bringing the station back to campus at a time when MHCC is raising tuition and contemplating budget cuts.

Board member Annette Mattson said costs to bring KMHD to campus "would mean laying off faculty, and that would not be good for our students."

The KMHD studio and equipment are still at the 26000 S.E. Stark St. campus, but would require more than $113,000 in upgrades. There would also be operating expenses for staff, even if students and other volunteers worked without pay.

A college committee estimated the costs, including equipment upgrades, would be about $169,446, just to get started.

The college owns the license for KMHD, Oregon's main full-time jazz station, which has been on the air since 1983. KMHD operated on campus for 25 years until 2009, when the management transferred to OPB.


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