Jun 27, 2012

Oregon university names interim director of JPR network

Southern Oregon University has appointed Paul Westhelle as interim director of Jefferson Public Radio, as longtime executive director Ron Kramer prepares to depart June 30. Westhelle has worked at JPR since 1990 and has served as the network’s associate director for 12 years.

The new interim director is grateful for his time working with Kramer, Westhelle said in a press release. Kramer “has been a friend and mentor,” he said.

SOU, which holds the licenses of some JPR stations, dismissed Kramer in March after a university audit found that his leadership of both JPR and a sister nonprofit, the JPR Foundation, presented a conflict of interest. (Current, April 9, 2012.)

Meanwhile, Kramer told KOBI-TV in Medford, Ore., that he’s unsure how the JPR Foundation will finish restoring the Holly Theater in Medford. Work on the building, which the JPR Foundation bought in 2010, has stopped while SOU and the foundation attempt to resolve a dispute about how JPR is operated. The parties recently agreed to take a 90-day breather and to give mediation another try. (Current, June 25, 2012.)

“There’s no glory to have a building whose facade has been restored and its interior unusable, so I would hope something is going to happen to put the theatre back to life,” Kramer said.

Rhode Island PBS to transition from state to community licensee

The Rhode Island Public Telecommunications Authority voted Tuesday (June 26) to transition WSBE/Rhode Island PBS from a state licensee to a community licensee, the station said in a statement on its website. The vote followed approval of the state budget that extends the station's funding only through the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2013.

"We are pleased that the state budget restores much of the funding WSBE needs to give us the time necessary to execute a comprehensive and viable plan for alternative funding and operating strategies, without crippling the station during the process," said WSBE President David Piccerelli. He estimates the FCC application and review process for the license transfer could take up to 90 days.

Authority Chair Michael Isaacs called the board's action "an important first step toward WSBE's independence."

The station already has one unique revenue stream: It receives $200,000 annually for its management oversight and operational support of the state's public access channels (Current, May 29).