• Ron Kramer terminated as JPR director

    Power struggle, fundraising issues behind move
  • Competition for dwindling donations is partially behind the power struggle that led to Southern Oregon University's termination of Jefferson Public Radio's executive director.
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  • Competition for dwindling donations is partially behind the power struggle that led to Southern Oregon University's termination of Jefferson Public Radio's executive director.
    Ron Kramer received a termination letter Friday after university officials grew increasingly frustrated over a relationship that has mingled assets of JPR, the university system and the JPR Foundation.
    Jim Beaver, spokesman for SOU, said the chancellor's office of the Oregon University System grew alarmed at news accounts of JPR taking on $7 million in debt for projects to renovate the Holly Theatre and a new headquarters building for JPR in Medford on 10th Street.
    "This is taking it to a whole new level," he said of JPR's expansion plans.
    The multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns that would be required to pay for those projects would leave less money for SOU's own fundraising efforts in the Southern Oregon, he said.
    "The state is reducing funds faster than we can raise tuition and enrollment," Beaver said. "A lot of public agencies are wondering how they are going to go forward."
    Kramer said Monday he was surprised that SOU would acknowledge that the competition for donations played such a big role in the issue. He also said SOU's decision could seriously damage the redevelopment efforts in Medford, as well as the radio station.
    Work already has begun on the Holly Theatre, with the city's urban renewal agency committing $300,000 to the effort.
    "I think what they are doing is essentially capsizing the Medford projects, but in doing so damaging the radio stations," Kramer said.
    Kramer has been executive director of JPR since 1974 and has seen the broadcasting outlet grow from a small campus station to a regional public radio service reaching a 60,000-square-mile area of Southern Oregon and Northern California via the largest translator network in public radio.
    While the Oregon University System is now raising concerns about JPR's fundraising activities, in the past it supported similar efforts. Both the university system and SOU approved of the JPR Foundation's fundraising efforts to renovate the Cascade Theatre in Redding, Calif., a project similar to the Holly Theatre effort in Medford.
    In fact, the Oregon University System owns the Cascade Theatre. That, however, is different in the university's eyes, Beaver said.
    "It's one thing raising money in Redding, but it's another thing to raise money in the Rogue Valley," Beaver said.
    The foundation also owns transmitters and other equipment used by JPR for broadcasting in Northern California and Southern Oregon.
    Beaver said SOU would have preferred that an audit of JPR and the foundation launched by the university system had been resolved before Kramer was notified of his termination.
    Last Thursday, the university and the JPR Foundation agreed to mediation to resolve their differences. But on Friday, Kramer received the termination letter from SOU President Mary Cullinan removing him from his position as JPR's executive director after June 30.
    Beaver said the dispute over Kramer's dual roles has been ongoing and has led to frustrations for SOU officials and the university system.
    A task force of SOU and Oregon University System representatives looked into the matter last year, but no resolution was found, Beaver said.
    Deadlines for a resolution passed, then were extended, and still no resolution was found, he said.
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