Jefferson Public Radio looks to buy Siskiyou County stations owned by Buffalo Broadcasting

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
Jefferson Public Radio

Jefferson Public Radio, based in Ashland, Oregon, is awaiting final approval to expand and improve its signal in Siskiyou County by acquiring two Siskiyou County radio stations.

Buffalo Broadcasting LLC., of Siskiyou County, is waiting for approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to sell its broadcast licenses, translators, and its stations KSYC-FM, along with KHWA-FM, and equipment to JPR.

JPR is run by Southern Oregon University and is based at the Ashland campus. As part of the potential deal, call signs that Buffalo Broadcasting will sell to JPR include K269AT Grenada, K257CA Mount Shasta and K221BK Etna. 

On Thursday, Sept. 30, radio station KSYC-FM 103.9, Wild Country, based in Yreka, announced that it would cease operations at the end of the day.   

The station has been operated for 10 years by Buffalo Broadcasting, which is owned by Mark and Cyndi Baird, who live in Siskiyou County in the Scott Valley.   

This is the second radio station owned by Buffalo Broadcasting to shut down this year. KHWA, Highway 102.3, was an adult hits radio station owned by the Baird’s that broadcast in Siskiyou County. It permanently stopped operating earlier this year due to a lack of ad revenue, Mark Baird said.  

Baird confirmed Tuesday he is in the process of selling to JPR and waiting for the FCC to approve the sale.  

He said he initially hoped someone local would buy the stations and keep it running locally, “but no one stepped up to the plate, and that’s that.” 

JPR executive director Paul Westhelle said Tuesday the plan is to use the stations and translators to expand their coverage area throughout Siskiyou County. In addition, he said they want to improve their signal for listeners in Siskiyou County. 

He is hopeful the FCC will approve the deal within a few weeks, but it was hard to say when they would hear back. 

“We are excited for this opportunity to branch out further in Siskiyou County," Westhelle said. 

According to the JPR website, it is a regional public radio service reaching over 1 million potential listeners in a 60,000-square-mile area of Southern Oregon and Northern California via one of the largest networks of transmitters and translators in public radio. Jefferson Public Radio's flagship station, KSOR, was established in 1969 on the SOU campus in Ashland. 

Baird has said various factors contributed to the move to stop broadcasting and sell the stations. One reason is he and his wife were ready to retire from the radio business. Another factor was the loss of revenue due to companies not advertising with them since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020.   

This is not the first time JPR has tried to expand in Siskiyou County. In 2010, KSYC-FM 103.9 was nearly sold to JPR, in the hope of improving its signal in the Yreka area, according to a Dec. 18, 2010 story in the Siskiyou Daily News. However, when the pending purchase was confirmed, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted against the sale, and JPR withdrew its offer. 

The Daily News article stated that Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors Chair Marcia Armstrong of Scott Valley presented a letter opposing the proposed acquisition for the board’s consideration at its Dec. 7, 2010, meeting. She stated that she feared a loss of “cultural identity.” The letter of opposition, which was to be sent to the FCC, passed with a 3-2 vote.  

 The station was eventually acquired on March 1, 2011, by the Bairds. 

Bill Choy covers sports and general news for the Siskiyou Daily News/Mount Shasta Herald/USA Today Network. Follow him on Twitter at@SDNBillChoy. Email Bill at bchoy@siskiyoudaily.com. Support local journalism by subscribing today.