Roughly five years after it left AM for 101.1 FM, KFUG Community Radio is using a $25,000 donation to upgrade its equipment, broaden its reach and give local youth a taste of journalism.

The donation came from the Caldwell Clan Fund, a private foundation created by Dr. Kevin Caldwell, his wife Dr. Donna Sund and their children.

It's the single largest donation KFUG has received since a $1,100 gift from someone who wanted to remain anonymous helped the station pay its rent at its former home in Downtown Crescent City in 2015, owner Paul Critz said.

"Before that he was just a citizen," Critz said of Caldwell. "But he's somebody who listens to KFUG and appreciates what we do."

Most of the $25,000 has been used to bring the station's equipment up to industry standard, according to Critz. Previously the station used consumer-level equipment that had been donated and patched together, similar to what would be found in a coffeehouse or bar, he said.

The station's new console will allow deejays to put multiple people on the air without digging through boxes for cords and cables, Critz said. They'll be able to take live callers. And, thanks to the donation, KFUG has been able to purchase a new mast for its antenna that will enable it to cut through the signal created by one of the cell phone towers in town as well as KCRE's antenna at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds, Critz said.

"Our antenna is right here at the FUG House," Critz said. "It's 10 feet above the roof line. If I can get it 20 feet above the roof line it'll make a big difference."

What Critz is most excited about, however, doesn't have to do with equipment. Whatever hasn't been spent of Caldwell's $25,000 donation will be used to create a youth-driven broadcast news team for KFUG.

Critz said he has four youths involved already: Walker True, who got involved with KFUG through the Youth Training Academy, Kobey Moore, an intern at the radio station, Critz's son Avi and Brayden Hatch, a 19-year-old member of the local Democratic Committee.

Critz said he will have the four youth for a summer before True heads to college. Working with talk show host Mike Thornton, who has previous radio experience, the four young reporters are already working on stories, Critz said.

"This week we sent them out," Critz said. "One team is following a story about the LCAP, and were at meetings and getting quotes from people yesterday. The other team is working on a story about RVs and the ACLU letter to the City Council."

Critz said both stories — one focuses on Del Norte Unified School District's plan for ensuring that extra state dollars it receives reaches homeless students, foster youth, English language learners and low-income students — will air on KFUG later this month.

According to a press release from KFUG, Critz hopes to create a fully-funded sustainable youth news program. The radio station has also partnered with the Wild Rivers Community Foundation and Building Healthy Communities to create a network of stakeholders interested in contributing content and supporting KFUG's endeavor, according to the press release.

Caldwell said he and his family, including his children, discuss what organizations they'd like to donate their funds to. The Caldwell Clan Fund has made previous donations to Lynn's Hope House of New Beginnings and to Our Daily Bread.

Caldwell said he felt that community radio plays an important role in a community.

"They've been able to come so far and talking to them more, it was like with relatively a little bit more money they could do so much more," Caldwell said. "I'm just impressed with how they have just a broad cross-section of people from the entire community. The people, the shows that are on there, cover everything. They include everyone in the community. There's not like one political or sociological bent to them."

Critz noted that even though KFUG is growing, it still thrives on support from the community, including volunteers.

"There are all kinds of ways to be involved with KFUG whether it's sitting behind a microphone and doing a classic rock show or getting into local community news and working with us to file reports," he said. "It'll be an exciting summer for KFUG thanks to Dr. Caldwell."

For more information about KFUG, call Critz at (707) 457-7905 or email pcritz@yahoo.com .

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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