The music played on KRVM on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. is the broad mix of adult album alternative that most people would expect from a community radio station. Announcements about Greenhill Humane Society‘s events mix with music by artists like Bob Dylan. What makes KRVM different from other stations is the voices announcing the songs -because they belong to local high school students.
KRVM, a Eugene area community radio station and full-service, full-time broadcaster, is operated out of Sheldon High School. While evening and weekend broadcasts are mostly done by adult volunteers, the weekday disc jockeys are students at the school. The students don’t pick the music, but they learn the basics of radio production and broadcasting.
But community radio stations like KRVM, which is owned by the 4J school district, are at risk of losing federal funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because of proposals in the US congress to end funding for public broadcasting. House Resolution 1, which has been passed by the Republican controlled House of Representatives, would remove all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Ken Martin, the program director at KRVM, says that the loss of funding “could be the bullet that puts us down.”
“I can’t imagine what our community would be like without it.”
Martin says that public radio stations provide a unique benefit to the community by broadcasting locally oriented music and announcements about community events. He adds that local programming and Native American content like KRVM’s Indian Time helps to build the community.
“Jivin’” Johnny Etheredge, a former station employee and current volunteer DJ, says that commercial stations don’t provide the local content that community radio does because commercial stations are mostly nationally syndicated with almost no local content.
“You can go across the country and never change the station, and you’ll hear the same 100 songs on a loop.”
Commercial radio stations make their programming decisions at the national level, so they only feature major names. Stations like KRVM are often the only way for lesser-known artists to get their music on the air.
Oregon Representatives Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer both voted against the measure.
Blumenauer said in an open letter to his congressional peers that “Cutting CPB funding would save Americans less than half a cent a day, but would eliminate for many their one remaining source of locally focused and informed programming, and would take away the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), considered by the public to be the second-best use of taxpayer dollars, outranked only by defense spending.”
According to 17oMillionAmercans.org nearly half of all Americans use public radio at least once a month. Despite the popularity of public media, some legislators, like Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, still say cuts are a necessity. DeMint argues in a statement on his website that public broadcasters are popular enough to support themselves on private funding.
However, Bobbie Cirel, development director at KRVM, says that the 20% of the station’s funding that comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be “hard to make up.”
“We still want to keep going, we want to keep educating kids and broadcasting the variety of programming that we bring people and we want to keep expanding our coverage area. “