Kay Clements, new general manager of KHNS, said she’ll be looking to expand local news offerings, strengthen ties to Skagway and make upgrades to the station’s website and infrastructure.
In town for three weeks, Clements met with listeners during an open house at the station Friday. More than 50 people attended.
"I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on news, either expanding news programming and how best to accommodate our news to what listeners are looking for," Clements said.
She said she’ll be visiting Skagway by spring. "I hope to talk to them and hear feedback on what they want from the radio station."
She also plans to get out in Haines. "I’ll be going to chamber meetings and things like that, whatever I could go to. I’ve been trying to get out to events as well."
Another goal is implementing a station strategic plan developed by the board last fall. It’s currently in its draft stage and will be finalized next month.
Equipment upgrades include improvements that will help during remote broadcasts, such as announcing basketball games. The station’s website – which has been "static" for a while – needs to be updated and improved with basic information, such as the names of the station’s board of directors, she said.
Other changes will allow station staff to make site changes, instead of a webmaster, she said.
More local news also was one of the themes of the station’s citizens’ advisory board, which met Dec. 10. Member Kelly Mitchell said more local news was her personal concern. "If something really happens here, we don’t really have an immediate news source. We need more interaction, more Johnny-on-the-spot."
Mitchell said she realized KHNS news staff was "incredibly overworked."
The advisory board also needs to get out in the community, she said. "We need to interact more with the public before we interact with our wallets."
Friday’s reception attracted some of the station’s longtime members. Dave Pahl said he’s been listening since 1981 and was a fan of "Night Set," an all-night program broadcast for gillnetters working all night on Lynn Canal. "We’re staunch fans and always have been. KHNS is one of the best things the town has going for it. No great (suggestions for) changes come to mind."
Scott Carey, who has served on the station’s board of directors, said it was "nice to see positive energy" at the reception. He said he worries about "encroaching automation creep." "They need to stoke the volunteers. That’s what sets us apart from the Internet is local voices. They need to be kept on the air."
He said he’d like to see the volume of local news approach what was produced 20 years ago. "There’s lots of news out there. It used to be that after a big meeting you’d tune in to the radio station to get the news… It’s so good, that’s what’s so good about the station."
Advisory board member Mitchell said she was encouraged by Clements’ outreach. "It sounds like she’s excited to get out into the public. I hope she can maintain that excitement."
Other advisory board members are Jerrie Clarke, Norm Smith, Carol Tuynman, Edith von Stauffenberg, Sue Libenson, Dimitra Lavrakas, Chuck Hoehn and Marvin Willard.