KVCR staffers speak out as licensee considers plan to revamp station

Several staffers at California’s KVCR expressed opposition Thursday to a recommendation to cut the station’s PBS and NPR programming and sever ties with First Nations Experience, a network for Native American and Indigenous programming.

Speaking during a virtual board meeting of the San Bernardino Community College District, the staffers were addressing a proposal by the district, KVCR’s licensee, to transfer facilities and equipment used by the station to San Bernardino Valley College by June 2023. Jose Torres, the district’s interim chancellor, recommended Sept. 24 to transfer the station and turn it into a student-focused media lab. Torres and the board have discussed cutting public media programming to save money but have not made formal plans.

The board approved a motion Thursday that said KVCR’s operations will be used for “a dramatically expanded film, TV, media program, and other programs” to align use of the facility and its equipment with the mission of the district and the community college. The motion reflects the board’s desire “to start planning a smooth transition,” according to a district spokesperson.

The motion also said that “this action does not precipitate disaffiliation from NPR, PBS, other affiliates, or FNX.” According to the motion, the district will present the board with “a framework for the development of the plan, methodology, and vision” in December. The board will approve the plan by April 30.

Torres’ recommendation was accompanied by documents that projected a $3 million to $5 million total loss for KVCR between 2021 and 2025. Torres said Sept. 24 that he expects job cuts and staff restructuring, but he has not discussed specifics.

Ben Holland, a program manager for KVCR’s television station, said Thursday that he was shocked by Torres’ recommendation. Holland urged the district and board to reconsider the proposal because the station’s programming is important to the community.

Jessica Greenwell, KVCR’s traffic coordinator, and Yesica Alatorre, FNX’s traffic coordinator, said the district should be speaking to staff about the proposed transfer.