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January 17, 2013 9:06 am

EDITORIAL: NWC radio, television programs in jeopardy

Written by Ilene Olson

Northwest College leaders got the number they’ve been waiting for Monday, and it wasn’t pretty.

Due to a likely reduction in state funding, the college expects to cut approximately $1 million from its already slimmed-down budget. Easily identified and implemented cuts were made last year; trimming another $1 million for the 2013-14 school year budget is going to require deeper, more painful cuts.

From that perspective, it’s understandable that the NWC President’s Advisory Council recommended not hiring someone to replace Dennis Davis, who resigned effective May 18, until after the process of identifying areas where cuts can be made is complete. That is expected to be done by the end of February.

But we think that decision should be reconsidered in this case.

Davis, NWC assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, heads up the radio and television broadcasting programs. His students and community volunteers provide the programming for NWC TV, the college’s television station, and KNWT, NWC’s radio station. Davis devoted massive amounts of time and effort to establishing both programs in recent years.

During that time, the college has invested a large amount of money and resources to get the stations licensed and to provide the needed infrastructure, facilities and equipment for the programs. Among those investments was a state-of-the art recording studio, from which KNWT is broadcast, and much of the programming for the radio and television stations is recorded.

While NWC music programs also use the recording studio, much of the impetus to build came from the effort to establish the radio broadcasting program.

Not replacing Davis’ position now puts all of those gains at risk. It will take time to recruit someone with the skills necessary to run the radio and television broadcasting programs, and without that leadership, it is doubtful that either station could continue to broadcast for long. And, if they aren’t broadcasting, they will lose their licenses through the Federal Communications Commission — and that would cripple those programs. In other words, even if the decision was made to replace Davis, if it came too late, it could be a moot point.

Because of these considerations, we believe a decision regarding Davis’ position must be made as early as possible so that, if college leaders choose to fill it, there is time to recruit a suitable replacement.

Because these programs are so public in nature, we believe it would be appropriate and helpful for residents in Powell and other Big Horn Basin communities to weigh in on the issue.

Do you watch NWC-TV on TCT or Optimum? Do you listen to KNWT? Do you consider them assets to your community? In your opinion, are they worth continued investment by the college? If so — or if not — let college leaders know.

The answers to those questions must be considered before NWC leaders seriously consider whether they want to continue these programs. And, in this case, that process must be expedited so there still will be a choice.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link January 24, 2013 10:45 am posted by Steven

    As a NWC alum, and one who was heavily involved in the journalism program, I really do believe that it would be a large waste to lose this program. I can only imagine the reason why they're considering this is because Dennis Davis has always done the work of three professors, and they're realizing that's how many people they'd need to find to replace him.

    I personally would be inclined to distance myself from NWC if this is the direction that they choose to go in.

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