We have a wonderful new radio station in town, KFUG FM 101.1, owned by Paul Critz. KFUG was begun by Jim Wayman, who started streaming KFUG from his home in town many years ago. Much later, while Critz was running a local photography studio, he started doing disc jockey programs for Wayman. When KFUG was up for sale in 2011, Critz decided to buy it because he wanted to get back into radio, which had been his first job in high school and college.
Back in the ’80s when Critz was a teenager, he used to visit his father in Crescent City and listen to Bill Stamps on the radio. He hated the music, but it was really “cool” to hear Bill Stamps. He was the “Voice of Crescent City,” Critz said. “He was really impressive. It was a kind of broadcast you really don’t have the opportunity to see or hear anymore. He would talk about the people he ran into that morning at the post office. Everybody knew him. It wasn’t like listening to radio. It was like a personal conversation. He was a consummate professional.
“I wish I still considered myself more of a disc jockey, but I have to run the radio station. This is a nonprofit and I don’t draw a salary. Nobody here draws a salary. So I have to work on the side. I do videography. That’s how I make my money. And I technically have a show every weekday from 10 to noon, although the last couple of weeks it’s been hard to do. The FCC license we have is strictly for nonprofits. It’s a community radio low-power FM. You have to be a non-profit to get one of those.”
Initially, Critz tried to be a for-profit station, but it cost many thousands of dollars to get an FCC license that way. Then the FCC decided to hand out low-power FM licenses last year for the first time in 13 years. So Critz filed the paperwork and became a nonprofit.
“We were a shoe-in because we were in a small town, and not near a lot of other radio stations. We were already on the air, operating as a for-profit low-power AM station. But this made our sound much better.
“Every radio station has to have an engineer. Somebody who knows everything about the FCC regulations and how the transmitter works and also runs the nuts and bolts of the thing. We have a retired engineer who volunteered to help in that capacity, Jeff Stouffer, who’s also working as a school bus driver. He’s a big 6-foot-6-inch guy with white hair, and everyone calls him Shorty. Not only has he given us his time and materials, but also his own money. And he donates things like the metal mast that our antenna is on over on top of the Elks.
“I’m hoping KFUG will pay for itself. But it’s also important to get up every morning and do something you love. Right now, for KFUG to pay for itself, it would be about $1,500 a month. And we’re bringing in about $1,100 a month in underwriting. I have about a dozen underwriters. It’s taken a couple of years to get where we are.
“My girlfriend, Lihi Halperin, is a DJ here at KFUG. We’re doing a monthly tourism video for exploredel
“We have about 27 people on the air right now. Back at the height of the school year, we had over 40, including shows with teenagers. My daughter also has a show. When the teachers come back, I want to talk to those who do media classes at the high school and set up some sort of internship. I’d like to get more journalistic things on the air, like Dan Schultz’s “Counter-Culture Radio” on Monday, 7–8 p.m., and “Gender Talk” on Thursday, 7–9 p.m. And we have two hours of broadcasting in the Hmong language and two hours in Spanish.
“I also hope to get more political discussions on air. Democrats are a little to the right of me. I may even be more radical than the socialists.”