What Happened to KFOX?
Last year’s KFOX radio managers, Joshua Bell and Nicole Hagen, were told in the spring that when they returned in the fall, interviews would take place to hire new KFOX managers. However, when classes began this fall, the KFOX studio had already been dismantled without any notice.
This year, KFOX, George Fox University’s student-run radio station, has yet to air. The studio equipment remains packed away in storage, and the search for a space to house their studio continues with little progress made.
The entirety of the Klages building was designated for the engineering department. Space was made in the Hadlock Center for the ASC offices that had occupied Klages. Yet, the KFOX studio which had sat alongside the ASC office was not provided a new space.
Bill Buhrow, dean of Student Services, said, “I’m not sure the people that made the decision had thought through all the things that were in that space.”
KFOX was not intentionally discontinued but a lack of careful planning resulted in a loss of studio space.
“It wasn’t that there was this desire to kill it or there were problems with it or anything like that… The thing that started the ball rolling was the space issue,” said Buhrow.
With the studio space gone, KFOX has been forced to shut down for this school year, a surprise for previous managers, Bell and Hagen, who assumed the studio would remain in Klages.
“They didn’t tell us anything. We assumed they would talk to us over summer… No one voted on it,” said Hagen.
Both students and professors are upset by the lack of a broadcasting studio on campus. Steve Classen, chair of the Department of Communications and Cinematic Arts, and Matt Meyer, associate professor of Cinematic Arts, have expressed interest in moving KFOX to the Cinema and Media Communication (CMCO) department.
“They wanted to find a way for KFOX to continue in some capacity because they liked to have their students use KFOX as field experience,” said Bailey Sauls, Student Body president. “The professors have made it known that they still care about KFOX.”
Yet the future of KFOX remains uncertain. While a move to management under the CMCO department would provide KFOX with an advisor who can provide guidance and expertise to the students involved, “the transition is complicated because it would involve, among other things, moving budget lines from ASC to our department and somewhat expensive re-licensing of music permissions for station use,” said Classen.
Regardless of who manages KFOX, it will require support from ASC and with the station already on hiatus, it has been called into question whether KFOX is a good use of ASC funds.
“The other part of it is if there’s any money that’s going to be attached to any of this, is that money providing benefit to the students broadly?” said Buhrow. “We did a survey last year looking at listenership and it’s not great.”
According to Buhrow’s survey, about 80 percent of students have never listened to KFOX while only about 5 percent of students listen to KFOX once a month or more.
However, Bell argues that KFOX was incredibly beneficial for those involved with its production, regardless of the listenership. “We had 20 to 30 hosts last year,” said Bell. “It’s directly beneficial to people with CMCO majors. There are classes where the teachers say, ‘go do a broadcast.’ It’s been a great opportunity for students to practice real life skills, often career related, or major related.”
KFOX is hoping to return in Fall 2019, but where it will fit in and how it will look remains undecided.
KFOX has previously consisted of both live broadcasts and podcasts posted on Soundcloud. While live broadcasts “had an average of 5-10 listeners,” according to Bell, podcasts were much more popular. With the limitations KFOX will have as a program fighting for any budget at all, they are considering moving to podcasts alone.
“The primary obstacle for KFOX starting up again is space,” said Classen. While KFOX continues its search for a studio, what options does it have in ensuring its future on campus?
“We recommend they become a club,” said Bailey Sauls. As a club, KFOX would have guaranteed funding and remain an established group on campus even while they are unable to broadcast.
In the midst of a transition year, KFOX has been overlooked and forgotten, and its return to campus depends on “ASC and others invested in a future KFOX working on this problem with us,” said Classen.