High school radio station could shut down

By on May 18, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – According to an internal email made available to JH Weekly, the future of the high school radio station looks grim. The prospect of shuttering the school station at the end of the school year appears likely, according to the memo. The note states lack of interest and growing annual maintenance costs as reasons the station could be dissolved.

Tom Ninneman, founder of The Bronc.

Tom Ninneman, founder of The Bronc.

Tom Ninneman began the radio program at the high school and helped launch the station known as “The Bronc” (KJHB-LP, 97.7 FM) in 2002. He said he would hate to see it end like this.

“I would really hate to see this thing crater. It took too much to build it,” Ninneman said. The longtime radio veteran said the station exists to give students a wide range of real world experience in numerous fields, not just radio.

“It was meant as an educational vehicle to teach things like writing, public speaking, self-expression and self-confidence, electronics, time management – the things that go along with the radio business. It wasn’t about just having a toy. There’s a lot of undercurrent there other than strictly broadcasting that could be learned.”

Carl Shuptrine runs the station now. He told JH Weekly that a decision has not been made yet, although the station’s FCC license is up for renewal in June. He referred all other questions to principal Scott Crisp or superintendent Pam Shea. Neither returned our phone calls.

In the email, school management noted the popularity of online streaming, web-based multimedia, and internet broadcasting as reasons interest in terrestrial radio has waned in the past few years.

In 2002, the FCC relaxed restrictions on radio station startups, paving the way for more low power FM stations as long as they were affiliated with community organizations or educational institutions. Ninneman said he was once at a National Association of Broadcasters convention where he discussed The Bronc with a few FCC representatives.

“They had heard about my program and approached me and said, ‘This is exactly why we made this low power option available to schools. You are doing exactly what we envisioned.’

Ninneman said he was invited to address the commissioner of the FCC about the high school station. “We went from being the poster child of the program to now where nobody’s interested and we are going to throw it away?”

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