District decision leaves uncertain fate for 70-year-old school radio station

District decision leaves uncertain fate for school radio station

District decision leaves uncertain fate for 70-year-old school radio station
This year MDUSD parts ways with KVHS leaving a hole in the hearts of generations of students who made the station an important part of their high school experience. Pictured is 1977 Pleasant Hill High graduate Rhonda Ramey at the controls. Ramey passed away a few years ago.

CONCORD, CA (Sept. 13, 2022) — The Mount Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) board voted last month to “get out of the radio station business,” as Superintendent Adam Clark put it, marking the end of an era for the seven-decade journey of 90.5 KVHS.

The student-built radio station’s fate has been uncertain since 2012, when the Contra Costa County Board of Education gave approval for its home campus, Clayton Valley High School, to become a charter school. Since then, KVHS has been caught in a legal battle between the district and Clayton Valley Charter High School (CVCHS).

During the Aug. 24 board meeting, MDUSD general counsel Cesar Alvarado said both parties agreed to terms that require MDUSD to relocate the KVHS studio or sell it to an entity willing to pay for relocation, including the safe removal of the dilapidated KVHS tower. Alvarado was not at liberty to discuss details of the ongoing legal negotiations.

Offer from KLOVE radio

The presentation confirmed public speculation that MCH Enterprises had listed the station on the market in an effort to determine its value. There is currently a qualified offer of $520,000 from KLOVE, a contemporary, Christian music radio programming service. KLOVE operates as a nonprofit organization and, therefore, meets the legal requirements of a non-commercial radio license transfer as defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

During public comment, KVHS supporters were vocal in their opposition to selling to KLOVE. Several cited contradictions to the MDUSD equity policy, given KLOVE’s reported track record with the LGBT+ community.

They urged the board not to proceed with negotiations until the public has a chance to offer tangible alternatives that can keep the iconic radio station within the regional community.

Seeking clarification

The agenda item was titled “Review and Potential Approval of Authorization to Proceed with Negotiations for the Divestiture of Radio License, as a Previously Approved Reduction,” which led to confusion from the board and the public.

Per Clark’s request, Alvarado clarified that the referred to “negotiations” were legal negotiations with CVCHS – not sale negotiations with KLOVE, as some had interpreted.

However, the confusion didn’t stop there. Before voting, board members continued to ask Clark and Alvarado to help them understand what a “yes” vote would mean.

Ultimately, Clark explained that they don’t know the answers to all hypotheticals pertaining to various aspects of unloading KVHS. “We want to explore all of that, but we want to get out of the radio station business,” he said.

Shortly thereafter, the board approved the motion with five votes in favor. The student trustee abstained, expressing that she remained unclear on what the vote would authorize.

Community-driven effort

Trustee Cherise Khaund is optimistic that an amicable solution for the district and the public can be obtained.

“Thanks to community input and involvement, I am hopeful that this radio station can live on as a community-run station for years to come, with educational programming for the whole region,” she said. “I look forward to seeing their full proposal.”

Members of the public who spoke in support of KVHS have since been organizing and are said to be in the process of establishing a nonprofit to keep the station in the community. A Facebook group called “Save KVHS 90.5 in Concord CA” can be found at www.facebook.com/groups/372793539418233.

Dave Hughes
Dave Hughes

Dave Hughes is a local music advocate with an extensive network of independent artists. He produces and hosts a local music program on KVHS called The Beat of Diablo, every Sunday at 7:00 PM on 90.5 FM. Dave also catalogs local music releases at ConcordRockCity.com.