Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas 1968, One of My Most Memorable - Cary J. Hahn

It was 40 Christmas’s ago. In December 1968 I was a young Navy Journalist, in only my second year in the service, but on Christmas Eve I would experience one of the biggest stories and most memorable days of what now is my over 40 years of reporting.

I was stationed at Miramar Naval Air Station in North San Diego California which would be seen in the 1980’s movie “Top Gun”. I was reporting stories for the “Jet Journal” the base newspaper.

On January 23, 1968, a half a world away, the USS Pueblo, an American intelligence ship, was seized by military forces of North Korea in what American officials called International Waters. The ship was fired upon and U.S. sailor Fireman Apprentice Duane Hodges was killed. Captain Lloyd Bucher and his crew of 82 men, were taken away and held in captivity, starved and beaten, until December 23rd.

This incident, during the Vietnam War, is all but forgotten now by most Americans, but during the year that saw the Tet Offensive waged by the Viet Cong, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy the declaration by President Lyndon Johnson he would not seek reelection, the clubbing of students outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the presidential race of Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, the story of the capture of the USS Pueblo and it’s crew remained a constant.

After a year of negotiating and waiting, the news of the release of the American sailors came at a fast clip with our base notified they would be flying home to Miramar on a Starlifter C-141 airplane. In quick order, preparations were made for a ceremony.

My job was to prepare press credentials and sign in the dozens of national media at our office. A young Tom Brokaw, then with NBC News Los Angeles, is one face I remember, because he was a familiar face that we saw on local television.

On December 23rd, 11 months to the day of their capture, the crew of the Pueblo walked, one every 15 seconds, across the Bridge of No Return at Panmumjon. They were taken to a hospital for medical treatment at Seoul, South Korea. They would fly home, refueling at Midway Island, and then landing late in the day on Miramar’s tarmac.

Welcoming them home would be California Governor Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy. Waiting for their arrival was family members flown in from around the country along with a large crowd of spectators and news reporters beaming their story around the world. I was one of the witness’ to this moving event. Imagine being held prisoner, captured and tortured for 11 months and then in 36 hours whisked home.

Growing up in the Midwest, this was my first winter without cold temperatures. So I stood on the tarmac in my navy blues without a coat. I acted as a liaison of sorts and a reporter for the base newspaper. I’ve since stood in similar situations waiting for Presidents and other dignitaries to arrive but never with the anticipation that surrounded me that day. Here it was Christmas Eve, of all days, and the prayers of these crewmembers families and the whole of the United States were being answered. Their boys were coming home.

But people were being cautious. They wouldn’t believe it until they saw it. Finally, an announcement came over a p-a system that the plane was near, and you could feel the crowd sigh in unison. But still they were holding their collective breath until the plane was cited on the horizon and then a gradual cheer came up from the crowd.

Then it seemed another forever as the plane taxied the runway. Finally, the silver plane pulled up and the doors would open. As the crew left the plane a military band played "The Lonely Bull". Families enveloped their sailors. They were now home….on Christmas Eve.

Their faces were gaunt. Their bodies appeared frail. But you could see determination, pride and eventually smiles on their faces when they realized all of this was real. I did recognize Captain Bucher as he stood out from his enlisted men with his billed officer’s cap.

Official words of welcome were spoken in a short ceremony and then the crew boarded buses to Balboa Naval Hospital. There weren’t too many dry eyes.

And if that wasn’t enough to experience in one day, that night three other men made civilization’s first orbit around the moon. The Apollo Eight crew circled the moon, with pictures beamed via live television to Earth while they read from Genesis. “And God created the Heavens and the Earth.”

It was that Christmas Eve orbit that gave us that first view of a colorful marble Earth hanging in a black sky seen from the desolate moon. How can I not forget that Christmas Eve?

On this Christmas of 2008, the Navy still lists the Pueblo as a commissioned warship, even though it's docked on the Taedong River in Pyongyang where North Korea holds it as a tourist attraction and as a symbol of resistance to what they call “American aggression.”

Today 68 former Pueblo crew members are still alive. Forty of them held a 40th reunion this past September .

After defending his and the crew’s honor for three decades, Pueblo skipper Captain Lloyd “Pete” Bucher died in 2004 and is buried in Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery on Point Loma in San Diego looking out on San Diego Bay. The crew’s dream is their ship will sail home into San Diego Bay one day.

Note: Cary has reported for several radio and tv stations over a 4 decade career. He was the CBS 2 Iowan Traveler for 25 years. He began writing for the Marion Times in October.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pizzarelli, "Radio Deluxe" Profiled in Washington Post - Dennis

John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, along with their show "Radio Deluxe" were profiled recently in the Washington Post. There's also a video that includes a portion of a show taping and a musical performance. Check it out at this link.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jazz To The World - Dennis

More than 300 people helped us kick off the holiday season at Jazz To The World Nov. 29 at the Englert in Iowa City. Dan Knight led a great quintet, with guest vocalists including Betsy Hickok.

A kids chorus performed two holiday-themed sketches. The first, a funny take on "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch," in which a "Scroogey" piano teacher gets his comeuppance. Then, the story of a very special singing of "Silent Night" during World War I.

Santa was't there. But Mrs. Claus was. And what an appearance it was!

If you missed the concert, it will be a part of our Christmas special December 24.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

ISU Solar Decathlon Team - George

As part of a Clean Up Your Act feature, I recently met with members of the Iowa State University team that will compete in the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. Twenty collegiate teams are competing to design homes powered entirely by the sun.

There are many challenges involved in addition to coming up with a successful solar design. Judging is also based on the attractiveness of the homes. The homes have to be constructed in a way that they can be taken apart, trucked to the nation's capitol and re-constructed on the National Mall. The ISU team is also incorporating other green practices into its home, including the recycling of gray water. The competition is not only a learning experience for participants but is also used as a tool to help inform the public about solar houses. And, of course, fundraising -- always a major undertaking -- is involved.

My interview with IT Coordinator Eric Berkson, Project Engineer Tim Lentz, Team Co-Leader Keiand Fundraising Leader Chelsey Olsen is available as a podcast.

The U.S. Department of Energy competition will be held in the fall of 2009.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Check Out the Podcasts - George

Are you a fan of Talking Pictures but sometimes miss it when it's aired? Or do you want to find out what's happening this weekend but you didn't catch the Culture Crawl? Well, all you have to do is listen to the Podcasts on our web site. It's as easy as clicking "On the Air" in the menu bar and scrolling down to "Podcasts and Downloads." Got a Minute and Clean Up Your Act archives are also found there as well as a long list of interviews we've done with jazz musicians who have performed in this area. You can also subscribe to the Podcasts and have them automatically downloaded to your computer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Colbert on Jazz - Dennis

Why was the McArthur Foundation unwise to give sax player and SF Jazz Collective member Miguel Zenon on of their "Genius Grants?"

Stephen Colbert explains why in this funny bit from a recent show, about 12 minutes in.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Memories of 1976 Olympics - George

With the 2008 Summer Olympics under way in Beijing, it brings back memories of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Younger brother John and I took in the second week of those games.

I sent in my ticket order form the day they became available. Even so, the basketball tickets were all sold out. I did get tickets for men's field hockey, women's volleyball, wrestling, two days of track and field and equestrian which was part of the closing ceremonies package. John didn't have tickets so we just decided to see what we could buy at the different events. To our surprise, we were able to get tickets for him at face value. There wasn't any real scalping going on. Until the closing ceremonies. John ended up sitting outside the stadium the entire time. He said one guy was still trying to sell his ticket at a highly inflated rate right up until the very last minute.

Montreal had set up a housing system that allowed us to stay in a room at a private residence for a very reasonable rate. We spent little time there because we would leave early to get to our events and wouldn't get back until late.

Track and field was held at the new Olympic Stadium, which hadn't been totally completed on time. Some of the upper roofing wasn't quite done. While I had a reserved seat, John got standing room only tickets. That left him with an aching back, so he had little sympathy for me when I complained of a headache afterwards. I don't have any real memories of any particular performances at the '76 Olympics, although I do remember having a seat close to some of Bruce Jenner's family. I had no idea at the time that he was from Graceland College in Iowa.

News reports had indicated that security was very tight after what had happened at the Munich Olympics in 1972. But, if that was true, we were unaware of any signs of it.

It was interesting to be among so many people from so many different places...all the different languages, everyone showing generally good sportsmanship except for a few "ugly Americans."

We drove John's car from South Dakota to Montreal, my first experience driving any distance with a clutch. Why anyone would drive like that all the time is beyond me. On the way home, we stopped at Niagara Falls and spent a night with a cousin in Buffalo, NY.

If you ever have the chance to attend the Olympics, I'd high recommend it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

RAGBRAI Brings Old Friend to Iowa - George

One of the participants in this year's RAGBRAI was an old Army buddy, Mike Wong, who lives in the Sacramento, California, area. It was a chance for us to get together in North Liberty. We hadn't seen each other since 1992 when another Army buddy, Ken Lee, got married in Columbus, Ohio.

Mike and I were among the last of the draftees before the Army became all-volunteer. We both took basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, although we didn't know each other there. We met during Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. There we were trained for field artillery fire direction control (FDC). Then we were shipped to Camp Essayons, South Korea, where Mike became a battery clerk and I was in FDC before getting transferred to the Division Public Information Office/Division Newspaper...but not before my share of trips to the field as an FDC chart operator and a week at the DMZ.

After a year in Korea, we finished our "military careers" with six months at Fort Hood, Texas. Mike continued to work as a clerk; I became a jack-of-all-trades -- subsitute battery clerk, alternate mail clerk, photographer, writer. In Texas, Mike and I became fans of Doug Sahm (Sir Douglas Quintet) and saw him perform at the Texas Opry House and Armadillo World Headquarters, both in Austin. Bobby D. frequently plays his music on the Crawfish Circuit Saturday nights. We even saw jazz piano legend Teddy Wilson play on a stage in a cow pasture at an outdoor music festival near Kerrville.

After the service, I was best man at Mike's wedding. He was an usher at mine. He went back to school and became a registered nurse and is currently a school nurse, serving six elementary schools.

After several cell phone conversations and dealing with streets that were blocked for RAGBRAI, we finally met up at the First United Methodist Church in North Liberty, which was serving a supper for RAGBRAI participants. As we were eating our supper of pork roast and mashed potatoes, Mike asked me, "So is pork a big deal in Iowa?" He later sweet-talked one of the church women into letting us have a second dessert.

It was great to get together, re-live our days in the Army and catch up with each other's lives. Mike seems to have aged a little better than I. A little heavier than during our service years, but hardly any gray hair. Me, a little lighter than when we served together, but totally gray.

Although he didn't get to train as much beforehand as he would have liked (but he does do triathlons so he's in pretty good shape), Mike loved his RAGBRAI experience, except for the crash near Jefferson that sent him to the hospital for observation. He said he really enjoyed the people of Iowa. And he just might return next year -- to get some more pork! It would be great if he does.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back Stage at the Iowa City Jazz Festival - George

When working back stage on our live broadcast of the Iowa City Jazz Festival, one misses out a bit on the atmosphere "out front" and you don't really get to listen to much of the music. But it is interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes as the stage crew works to get everything off stage after one act and get things ready for next.  We also get to see the performers arrive and see how they interact with other musicians, the crew and staff.  And we get to meet many of them "up close and personal" when they come to the KCCK tent to do pre-performance interviews.

Tidbits from those interviews include: 
-Joshua Redman almost became a lawyer rather than a musician.
-Jenny Scheinman's first home when she was a kid didn't have electricity.
-Bonerama listed influences going back as far as Jack Teagarden.
-Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin and Wood has converted one of his diesel vehicles to use grease from a Chinese restaurant.
-Music Director Steve Grismore would like to bring in Bela Fleck for a future festival.
The crowds were great in the aftermath of the flooding...especially Friday and Saturday. There was a huge crowd for the fireworks following Friday's final act.  Attendance was down a bit Sunday as hotter and more humid weather moved in.  It was perhaps appropriate (if unfortunate) that Joshua Redman's finale concert Sunday night had to be cut a bit short because of threatening weather.
The Jazz Festival gave me an opportunity to work with son Daniel (Soundhole Recording Studio), who set up and ran our remote broadcast control board.  Son Brady came down for two days.  He's an architecture student at Iowa State with an interest in urban planning and mass transit.  He enjoyed exploring Iowa City on his bike.  His thoughts can be found here
I wasn't able to find my favorite vendor food this year.
Jenny Scheinman didn't play "The Orange Blossom Special" on her fiddle!

Overall, a great festival.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Flood Observations - George

I drove through Czech Village on my way to the flood news conferences at the Cedar Rapids police station last Thursday and Friday. What an incredibgle sight. You could see the water lines on houses up to the second floor. The curbs were stacked with with ruined furniture, appliances, carpets and other household goods. People were busy emptying their houses of possessions that had been ruined.

The Jones Park golf course still has flood waters. The fairways and greens that aren't under water have been reduced to mud. There's no green at all...just black muck.

The smell. In some areas it smells like rotting garbage. In other areas it's like the odor of the ruins of a burned building that's still wet from firefighters' water. In other places it smells like a combination of the two.

Saturday I took some lunch to my son who's working on the cleanup at city hall. Downtown was humming with activity. Much more active than on a normal Saturday; but not the kind of activity you'd like to see. Again, the curbs were stacked with ruins. Many of the traffic lights are out because of a lack of electricity downtown. That turns intersections into 4-way stops. It's not something that works that well with multiple lanes, including turn lanes. It makes driving a little nerve-wracking. And it slows the flow of traffic.

At night, the sign atop Quaker Oats is back on. The radio tower on top of the Alliant Tower lights up. And the sign on the Crowne Plaze Hotel is partially lit up. Other than the portable lights set up for security, that's about it. As it gets dark, the downtown skyline pretty much becomes invisible.

And yet, when you get away from the flood area, it's pretty much life as usual -- like nothing has happened. It's like Cedar Rapids has become two different worlds. But I'm sure the ripple effects are yet to come.

George Dorman - News Director

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Flood of 2008 - George

I was planning to go to the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines last Thursday. Those plans quickly changed when it became apparent that flooding on the Cedar River was going to be much more serious than anyone anticipated. (I don't know if I could have gotten to Des Moines anyway...and, if I had, who knows if I could have made it back.)

Station Manager Dennis Green and I decided that we should do twice-hourly reports beyond our regularly scheduled morning drive newscasts. We have continued this every day since...both of us doing on-air work and updating information for the reports and on our web site. The emergency operations center has been set up at Kirkwood Community College, so the briefings were convenient for me.

My family lives several miles from the river but I checked early on to see if they were all right. Some water had come into the basement with the heavy rain and the power had gone off, then come back on. Assured that they were doing OK, I concentrated on my work.

I have not been directly impacted by the flooding. Except...

One of the my sons work for the Veterans Memorial Commission in the building that houses city hall, which sits on an island in the Cedar River and was inundated. They had been working in the days before, trying to keep water out. But the flooding was overwhelming. Two of his co-workers live in the flooded area. He goes back to work tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, helping clean up the police station.

A guy who works in a neighboring department at Kirkwood lives in Palo, which was totally evacuated and flooded.

The family of a friend of one of my sons had moved to Palo several years ago but when his mom got tired of the drive to Cedar Rapids, they moved they missed the flood.

Another son had a recording studio in a building near the flooded area. He and his partner moved their equipment to another site.

Since only one of the city's wells was functioning after the flooding and city water capacity was just 25% of normal, everyone was asked to stop taking showers, washing dishes and doing laundry and not flushing toilets with every use to conserve. Capacity is now up to 50% and the restrictions have been eased a odd/even plan based on address numbers.

I tried to leave work the first night of the flood. Interstate 380 was the only way through town. Traffic was so heavy that I turned around and went back.

I've had calls from my brothers and gotten e-mails from my son who lives in suburban Denver, a former colleague in Sioux Falls, an army buddy in California...even Ted Hasiuk who does our smooth jazz show Saturday mornings. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada, and it brought back memories for him of the Red River flood of 1997 that hit Grand Forks, ND, so hard and threatened his city.

Then there was Father's Day. I would have planned to be in church with my three sons who are in town. By late afternoon, they determined that traffic had gone down on I-380 so they showed up with two pizzas, soft drinks and a Snickers bar and spent an hour or so with their old man. It was great to see them...and it made it a good Father's Day after all.

As I drove over the river that evening, I saw all the housboats that had jammed up against the railroad bridge by Quaker Oats and all the debris stuck under the 1st Avenue Bridge by city hall.
On my way back into work Monday morning, I drove past downtown. Except for a few lights in a couple of floors of the Alliant Energy Tower and a portable light set up on one of the streets, the entire business district and surrounding flooded areas were dark. It was spooky.

I can't imagine what it must be like for those people whose homes have been heavily damaged and in some cases destroyed. It makes one thankful to only have to report on it...and not be directly involved.

George Dorman, News and Operations Director

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flood Stories - Dennis

KCCK remains on the air during the flooding crisis in Cedar Rapids. While we don't have the resources for the kind of wall-to-wall coverage a full-time news station could provide, we're working hard to make sure that our listeners receive the information they will need to stay safe.

I'd like to acknowledge particularly the work of George Dorman, who has been putting in 15 hour days as our lead anchor and coordinator. Thanks also to Mark Yother, Bob Stewart, Gordon Paulsen and John Heim, who have struggled through flooded streets and bumper-bumper traffic on the few roads that remain open, to hold down their regular shifts.

Thanks to all the public safety workers, volunteers and our fellow media workers, who are doing outstanding work during this crisis.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jazz Showcase Returns-Bob

After a year-and-a-half of searching for a new location, Joe and Wayne Segal are finally ready to reopen the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. That location is in the historic Dearborn Station building at 806 S. Plymouth Ct. Instead of a Tuesday-Sunday run for major artists, it'll now be a Thursday-Sunday run. They're scheduled to reopen this week with Junior Mance, followed by Monty Alexander next week and Eliane Elias the following week. It'll be nice to have another option again for live jazz in the Midwest, in addtion to the Bistro in St. Louis and the Dakota in Minneapolis. Nobody in the Windy City had really picked up the slack since the Showcase closed down. Their website is still at

Bob Stewart, Program Director

Cary J Travels Back to Jazz 88.3 - Dennis

I'm pleased to announce that Cary J. Hahn will be returning to his Sunday afternoon Big Band Memories show on KCCK. Cary's first day back will be Sunday, June 22 at 1pm.

Thanks to Murray Kent for filling in these last several weeks!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Drake Relays - George

I attended the Saturday session of the 2008 Drake Relays with son Andrew.  Conditions weren't ideal, but many top performances were turned in.  Andy got us excellent seats in the front row right by the tunnel where the athletes exited the track after their events to retrieve their sweats and do interviews.

I attended my first Drake Relays in 1997 when son Michael was running for Washington High School.  My family sent me for my birthday and I can honestly say that it bordered on a religious experience for me.  It was a treat to watch Michael's 4 x 400 relay team place 6th despite the fact that anchor Rob Brimmer was tripped, then bumped after he picked himself up off the track.

I have always liked track.  I ran in high school and covered the track and cross country teams while working as an assistant to the sports information director at South Dakota State University.  I even took coaching of track.  As a class, we ran the meets that SDSU hosted.  I served as public address announcer.

I have been to the Texas Relays, the NCAA Championships -- even the 1976 Montreal Olympics with brother John.

Over the years at Drake, I have had the pleasure of watching such top athletes as Michael Johnson, Kevin Little, Jeremy Wariner, Joey Woody and Lolo Jones perform at Drake.  It was also a thrill to watch SDSU's Brad Lowery win the 1500 in 2005 after already winning the 5000.

I'm sure I'll be back at the blue track in 2009.

George Dorman - News and Operations Director

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Where's Cary? - Dennis

On the heels of the unfortunate news that local TV station KGAN has dismissed our beloved Cary J. Hahn, many KCCK listeners expressed gratitude that they could continue to hear Cary indulge his OTHER passion, Big Band music, on his weekly show on KCCK.

Well, if you've been listening to Big Band Memories lately, you know that there is an "Iowa Traveler"- sized hole in our broadcast day. Cary has been off the air since March 21.

It has nothing, well, nothing directly to do with his departure from TV. Cary has thrown his hat in the ring for political office in Linn County. Due to federal Equal Time for candidates provisions, this requires him to take a leave of absence from his KCCK show.

Ironically, the restrictions don't apply to office holders, only candidates. So, win or lose, we expect him back on the air in a few months.

In the meantime, the very able Murray Kent will be filling both halves of Big Band Memories during Cary's leave.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

KCCK's Place in Star Wars History - Dennis

"Talking Pictures" co-host and well-known movie buff Denny Lynch found a reference to KCCK in a new coffee table book celebrating "Star Wars." Star Wars Vault was released late last year, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of "Star Wars" (later subtitled "A New Hope").

Says Denny, "It is full of all kinds of reproductions of SW artifacts, many of which can be removed from the book for examination: Script pages, storyboard sketches, animation cels, T-shirt transfers, etc.

"Pages 78-79 deal with the radio adaptations that aired on NPR starting in 1981. I recalled the excitement that fans felt at the chance to hear these stories between the releases of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI. I have the posters that were
distributed to KCCK at the time.

"As you can see, the highlight for us here is a reproduction of the cover of KCCK's March 1981 program guide. It is reproduced in the original colors."

The radio adaptation featured Mark Hamill & Anthony Daniels, reprising their roles as Luke Skywalker and See Threepio, and expanded the movie's story into a 6 1/2 hour, 13-part tale. Subsequent adaptations of "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" were also produced. (from Wikipedia)

We're not sure if the drawing of Darth Vader was original work by a Kirkwood graphic artist or adapted from an existing piece. Ours is one of just three examples of radio promotion pieces in the book.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

30 Years in Cedar Rapids - George

It was March 1978 when I arrived in Cedar Rapids to be early morning anchor and general assignment reporter for KCRG-TV9, coming from KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls, SD, where I was a reporter, producer, weekend sports anchor and later assignment editor/assistant news director. Prior to that, I worked a short time at KORN-AM in Mitchell, SD, after getting out of the army. That's the station where Gary Owens of Laugh-In fame got his start. Mitchell is also home of the world's only Corn Palace (hence, KORN). The Mitchell High School athletic teams, by the way, are the original "Kernels."

Three and a half years after coming to TV9, I moved over to become news director for KCRG-AM 1600. Three and a half years after that, the position was eliminated and I was left without a job.

It was then that I went to work part-time at KCCK, working in the news department with Mark Yother and Nancy York. A few months later when Mark left KCCK temporarily, I become news director...later adding the duties of operations director. I'm now in my 23rd year at KCCK.

During the past 30 years I've seen four sons go through Arthur Elementary, Franklin Middle School and Washington High School. One son has graduated from Iowa State, another from Kirkwood and the two youngest are currently at ISU. I have one granddaughter and a grandson is on the way.

In the meantime, I continue to work with the small but dedicated, professional staff at KCCK. We've won some awards and I'm proud to be part of Iowa's only full-time jazz station. -- George Dorman

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feb. 12 106.9 Update-Dennis

If you've been trying to to listen to KCCK at 106.9 (Tuesday, Feb. 12), you've probably already figured out we're off the air. We lost the signal overnight. The tower is at a rural Johnson County site, pretty far down the snowplow-priority list. Plus, the site itself hasn't been plowed, so we can't get in to fix it without getting our repair van stuck. Long story short, we're not exactly sure when we're going to be able to get in to fix it. Hopefully later this week.

We'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 4, 2008

106.9 Travails - Dennis

As of this writing, KCCK's Johnson County translator at 106.9 is back on the air. The recent ice and snow storms have really taken a toll on this aging unit. The current problems are compounded by the fact that our auxiliary transmitter has only been running at about half its rated power of 100 watts for several months now, a result of old wiring and an antenna that needs to be either totally overhauled or replaced.

Why aren't we doing anything about it? Well, we are, but the timetable is complicated.

First off, we've been told we need to move the transmitter and antenna from its current location (northeast of Iowa City off Highway 1). But, we haven't been given a date by which we need to do so.

That's OK, as it gives us time to plan. We wrote a grant to cover at least a portion of the cost. And we received the funds.

Full disclosure: The grant requires a 50% local match. So, look for us to ask 106.9 listeners to make a one-time special contribution to help us raise that match during the spring fund drive.

More good news: The new repeater will be able to transmit HD radio, plus its supplemental audio channels, AND the antenna will be mounted at Kirkwood's Iowa City campus, much closer to metropolitan Iowa City-Coralville.

So, please bear with us a little while longer. We hope to have the new translator up and running this summer.