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Well-respected local Jazz station roots could return KMHD to Gresham, where it first started.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO - Member-supported KMHD radio has been on the air since 1984, operated by Oregon Public Broadcasting for the past decade. The Mt. Hood Community College school board last week opened the door to bringing the KMHD radio broadcast back to its Gresham campus after 10 years of the jazz station being operated by Oregon Public Broadcasting in Southwest Portland.

Diane McKeel, chairwoman of the community college board, said the board "voted to direct the college administration to not exercise the five-year automatic renewal option of the current agreement with OPB and instead to negotiate a new two-year contract."

OPB issued a statement that sounded more certain that the Wednesday, Jan. 16, vote made the move a done deal.

"The board of Mt. Hood Community College ... voted to terminate the agreement with OPB for the operation of KMHD and seeks to move the operation of the station back to the college," according to OPB.

College leadership has been discussing the fate of the member-supported radio station for months and a decision on the contract had to be made by February.

The license for KMHD, at 89.1 FM, is owned by the college. The station has been on the air since 1984 and was operated on campus for 25 years until 2009, when management of the station was transferred to OPB and relocated to OPB headquarters in Southwest Portland.

"KMHD now is one of the most vibrant member-supported jazz stations in the country at a time when jazz stations are disappearing in many cities," OPB said, adding that under OPB's management, "the audience and support base have expanded significantly."

The infrastructure for the station is still on the college campus at 26000 S.E. Stark St., Gresham, and could be reactivated there.

KMHD is operated by volunteers and a small paid staff. MHCC offers broadcasting classes and some students have said having the station back on campus would be a boon to the program.

Since the station moved to OPB, no Mt. Hood Community College student has had an internship at the station, student leaders said at a meeting they organized in October to discuss the fate of the station.

If KMHD returned to the college campus, it could be integrated into the school in several ways, such as becoming part of the college or a separate nonprofit organization.

"Board members will continue to review interest in bringing KMHD back to the ... campus," said McKeel, a former Multnomah County commissioner. "The college administration will soon begin the planning process. The college commits to working with OPB."

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