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Local radio station tuned in to the foothills

KAHI launches noon local news program
By: Paul Cambra, Journal Staff Writer
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Turn on, tune in, and make yourself at home. That’s what the folks at KAHI radio would like you to do. “There’s a real feeling of hominess to the station, like none I’ve worked at,” said radio personality Mary Jane Popp. “Listeners feel like we’re part of their family, and we want them to feel like ‘this is their show.’ We want them to feel as if they’re owners of the stations.” Now, before you get any ideas about programming changes or pay raises for the boss, you may first want to consider what the industry has been through in recent years and how Auburn’s local station has survived — even thrived — in its Downtown location. “We’re focusing on the community,” KAHI General Manager Jerry Henry said. “It’s the one thing we have going, being in the shadow of the Sacramento market. They broadcast into our transmitter pattern, so the people of Auburn have a wide choice of radio and it’s hard to compete with the big guys. We choose to focus on the local happenings in hopes that people want that too.” Apparently they do, as their reaction to programming led to a shift in the schedule. While conservative talk shows may play well in the area, having back-to-back political pundits dominate the daytime airwaves didn’t sit well with all listeners. “We heard from the local folks who said ‘what about us, why aren’t you talking about Auburn?’” Henry said. So beginning last week, KAHI shuffled its schedule to accommodate a noontime news show, hosted by Popp, to keep listeners up to date with local happenings, weather, sports and traffic. Plans are for the program to frequently go on the road and do live remotes from wherever the news takes them. And while their eye is on Downtown Auburn, their self-proclaimed “voice of the foothills” is not afraid to cross county lines. “Don’t forget about us listeners over here,” said Julie Tyner of Placerville, who is a regular listener to Popp’s show. “It’s a way to listen to talk radio without all of the hate and anger. That’s something that gets lost in the big entertainment world nowadays. There’s a very small-town feel to the station.” Being able to call or e-mail your favorite host – and hear back from them – is something not lost on listeners. “Conglomerates have homogenized radio, and, adding insult to injury made the everyday disc jockey an endangered species through the use of voice tracking,” said Dave Rosenthal, the station’s vice-president and afternoon personality. “In doing so, radio lost the ability to connect with the listener.” Some listeners, like Barbara Miller, are looking for that connection. “I wanted to get the feeling of the foothills when I moved here 20 years ago,” Miller said. “I found KAHI and thought ‘this is super, they talk about what’s happening there’ and I don’t even live in Auburn but I enjoy it.” For those who do live in Auburn, a simple stroll down Lincoln Way can get you a glimpse into the world behind the microphone and maybe even put a face to your favorite voice. “We’re the window to the world here,” Popp said. “People walk by and wave, they want to stop in and say ‘Hi,’ but it’s hard when you’re on the air.” Just one of those distractions you deal with when working at “home.” -------- KAHI Radio AM950 Where: 985 Lincoln Way, Suite 103, Downtown Auburn Phone: (530) 885-3565 studio/call-in line Web: kahi.com