ASTORIA - After several months of searching and interviewing, Astoria's KMUN Radio, the region's only independent community radio station, has hired a new station manager - Peter Newman, of Seattle.
Newman brings with him 26 years of broadcast experience, most of it at Seattle's KING Broadcasting. At KING FM, one of the most popular classical music stations in the country, Newman wore many hats over the years, from programmer to program director, operations manager and general manager. After all those years in Seattle, he was ready for a change, and KMUN seemed like the perfect choice.
"We've had a home on the Oregon Coast for the past 15 years, and when we would drive back to Seattle on Sunday night, my wife and I would say to each other, 'You know I think we're headed in the wrong direction here, we ought to be living down here and maybe visiting Seattle,'" he said. "So it was in part a personal decision. And I've listened to the station and been a member for the past 15 years, and I love KMUN. This is one of the great radio stations in America."
Newman officially steps into his new shoes on Dec. 1, but board members, staff and volunteers have all seen him around the station during the past few weeks, as he attends a flurry of meetings and learns the ropes. He'll be on hand all this week to help out with KMUN's Fall Pledge Drive, Nov. 10 - 16.
He's already thinking about some of the station's upcoming challenges, among them an additional transmitter in Tillamook County and the possibility of a second FM frequency in Astoria. At first, though, he'll take some time to get a feel for the "lay of the land" so he can start helping staff and volunteers collaborate toward a cohesive future.
Newman says one of KMUN's strengths is its great localism - as a local radio station that "super-serves" the community. In addition to the appeal of its eclectic programming, he said it's also an important radio station in an era of rampant consolidation. When most other stations have been swallowed up by large corporations, the local independent voice is even more important.
The Newmans look to be a fascinating addition to KMUN's diverse and talented community. Newman's wife, Megan Cole, is an accomplished actress whose riveting portrayal of a cancer-victim in the Pulitzer Prize winning play "Wit," has won her acclaim from cancer patients and the medical community. She's used her experience in the role to develop a course for medical students on "empathic listening," a technique that helps doctors learn how to listen to their patients.
Newman replaces previous station manager Lisa Smith, who moved to Philadelphia in September.
Former KBOO station manager and current KBOO board member Victoria Stoppiello, who is also a long-time member of KMUN, is serving as interim station manager until Newman comes on board officially in December.