CONCORD -- Just when things were starting to look up for the student-run KVHS radio station on the Clayton Valley Charter High campus, the studio equipment overheated, knocking it off the air.
"The hard drive fried," said Melissa Wilson, who taught radio at Clayton Valley High for nearly 15 years, before the school converted to a charter this fall. "We can't get the very old software to reload."
KVHS has been broadcasting from the school for more than 40 years. The station was in danger of being silenced for good until the Mt. Diablo School board voted last month to let the new charter high school run the program until next June.
Wilson and her husband Tom, who taught the KVHS class for two decades from 1978 to 1998, have been working furiously since last Wednesday to get the programming back on the air to meet Federal Communications Commission requirements. If it's off the air for more than 10 days, Melissa Wilson said she'll have to write to the FCC.
But, she's determined not to let that happen. Despite recently getting a new job hosting a radio program at KJOY in Stockton, she has been looking for new computer equipment to replace the hard drive that broke down when temperatures in the school studio reached more than 100 degrees.
She has also been working part-time overseeing automated programming to comply with FCC regulations and although Tom is now the Brentwood school district's technology coordinator, he's pitching in to help.
"My husband is one of the best in the business," Melissa Wilson said Wednesday. So, by tomorrow, we'll be back on the air with something, even if it means a limited play list that runs a station identification."
Meanwhile, the charter is trying to attract enough students and a teacher with a radio credential to teach a Regional Occupational Program class through the Contra Costa County Office of Education.
The Mt. Diablo school district, which owns KVHS, agreed to allow the charter to operate the station until June, after charter teachers, students and radio alumni expressed an interest in keeping it going.
KQED also put out feelers to see if the district might want to sell KVHS, in the hopes of improving reception for its FM radio station in Contra Costa County. But, it has backed off until the district decides whether it wants to sell.
About 15 students initially signed up for the class. After the board's decision, charter teacher Neil McChesney said he was confident he could attract more students and a teacher with the appropriate credential in radio instruction.
Although the county normally requires 25 students to fund a class, spokeswoman Peggy Marshburn said it might be willing to consider a smaller number. But, it cannot waive the credentialed teacher requirement, she said.
"We are continuing to work with the charter school on getting a class started," she said. "Everybody is working as hard as they can to put it together, but it just hasn't happened yet."
More information about KVHS 90.5 FM radio is available by visiting www.kvhs.com.
For additional details about efforts to keep the station going, visit the On Assignment blog at www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment.