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Mount Diablo Unified to Explore Potential Lease of High School Radio Station KVHS-FM

KVHSAt a meeting of the Mount Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) on Monday night, the school board approved a recommendation to “explore the potential multi-year lease of” high school radio station KVHS-FM.

At the meeting, it was stated that preliminary estimates indicate that a  lease of the FM signal could bring between $10,000 and $25,000 in revenue a month to the district. Although the district holds the license for the non-commercial radio station, KVHS is housed at a high school in Concord, California that was recently converted to a charter school. Following that change, the existing radio program’s future seemed murky and rumors about a potential license sale circulated last summer.

At the August 27, 2012 meeting, the MDUSD board agreed to hold off on considering a sale of the station license until the school year ends in June, 2013. The decision at this week’s meeting seems to update that discussion by proposing the exploration of a lease (as opposed to a sale).

At the March 25, 2013 board meeting, former KVHS faculty adviser Melissa Wilson spoke to the board. She said that she’d been laid off by the school district in June and explained that the station currently does not have an instructor with experience teaching radio. Although the radio station studios and production rooms remain at Clayton Valley Charter High School, the KVHS offices were recently dismantled and turned into classroom space. Apparently no students currently broadcast over the station’s FM signal, although Wilson has been retained by the district as an independent contractor in order to keep the station FCC-compliant.

Wilson said that she supported a plan to lease the FM license and argued that students can still learn about broadcasting at an online-only station. In a statement to the board, Wilson said, “the type of broadcast radio station that I grew up with…does not exist anymore, it’s a new day and it’s probably not coming back at least in that form. The students aren’t drawn to that kind of radio as I was drawn to that kind of radio…it’s a digital age and the opportunities lie with those who embrace that fact.”

The board agreed to begin investigating the hiring of a consultant in order to advise the district on a potential lease arrangement with an outside group. This would allow the district to move forward with a request for proposals from firms “which specialize in…the lease of non-commercial radio and television stations to assist in identifying and negotiating the lease of the KVHS non-commercial (non-digital) radio license.” The district would maintain radio equipment and would only lease the use of the FM signal. At the meeting, Wilson stated that the best part of this option is that “it’s temporary,” meaning that the student station could resume FM broadcasts in the future.

The current state of the student station at KVHS is unclear. According to the Clayton Valley Charter High School website, KVHS may now be a project of a media class at the school. The website states,

“KVHS IS BACK WITH…’THE UGLY LIFE’!!! The new and aspiring Media class at CVCHS has been hard at work and is ready for a great comeback!…Every week, ‘The Ugly Life’ will post their podcasts and videos, pictures and other things about trending topics.  ‘The Ugly Life’ needs your help to bring KVHS back…”

An Ugly Life Facebook page and You Tube channel feature a small number of posts and links to videos and podcasts (including a Clayton Valley Charter Harlem Shake video).

With high school radio stations somewhat of an endangered species in 2013, hopefully KVHS will be able to continue as a student-run operation, whether it’s online-only or on the FM dial. It’s sad to see that a station with such a lengthy history (KVHS will turn 50 next year) is in limbo following changes at its home high school.


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