Paul Westhelle

Executive Director

Paul Westhelle oversees management of JPR's daily operations and service to the community.  He came to JPR in 1990 as Associate Director of Broadcasting for Marketing and Development after holding jobs in non-profit management and fundraising for a national health agency.

Paul grew up in northern New Jersey just outside New York City.  As a student at Seton Hall University he developed a love for live music romping around Greenwich Village clubs. He traveled west in 1981 to attend San Jose State University where he graduated with a B.A. from its School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Paul believes the meaning of life can be found in public radio and baseball. He’s coached several of Ashland's outstanding youth baseball teams and served as Head Coach of the Ashland High School Varsity team in 2012.

Paul and his wife, Patti Grant, live in Ashland. They have two adult children, Kelsey and Evan.

It’s been an interesting time to work in public media. On the up side, there’s been an amazing renaissance in the oral tradition.

Podcasts, public radio and other on-demand audio platforms have attracted new and younger audiences for the art of audio storytelling, fueling a surge in the innovative and creative work of artists, journalists and audio producers. 

Pushing People Up

Sep 1, 2017

In the alphabet soup of public broadcasting acronyms, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), often takes a back seat to more familiar organizations like NPR, PBS and even well established local stations. 

Moving Forward

Jun 29, 2017

It’s been a busy time at JPR with numerous projects moving forward. I thought it might be useful to share a glimpse of some of the major initiatives and developments in which we’ve been engaged that will allow us to advance our service to the region. 

Federal Funding

On March 16th, the Trump administration released its FY2018 budget outline which includes a provision to eliminate annual grants to public radio and television stations through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  Ultimately, Congress will make the final decision on continuing the annual federal investment that supports JPR and other public radio and television stations across the country. This support totals $1.35 per citizen per year for all public radio and television stations, and just 30 cents per citizen annually for radio stations alone.

In the last issue of the Jefferson Journal I wrote about the uncertainty surrounding continued federal funding for public broadcasting following the 2016 election. Since the beginning of the year several developments have taken place that inform this issue. But, before exploring these recent developments, here’s an overview of how federal funding fits into the public broadcasting ecosystem and supports JPR’s service to Southern Oregon and Northern California communities:

Focus On The Future

Jan 1, 2017
www.kateto.net

As we welcome a new year, all of us at JPR are reminded of the special challenges and opportunities 2017 will bring.

NPR

In making the announcement, NPR cited three main reasons.In late August, NPR announced that it was discontinuing the feature on NPR.org that enabled visitors to make public comments about its online news stories. The announcement surprised me. After all, it seems antithetical for an organization with the word “public” in its very name to eliminate a mechanism for receiving public feedback.

Engaging A Nation

Aug 31, 2016

By now it’s evident that the 2016 Presidential election is not a typical affair.  One of the ways it’s been atypical from a media standpoint is that Donald Trump has been the first major party candidate in modern times to so unabashedly embrace the concept that “there is no such thing as bad publicity” – an expression made popular by P.T. Barnum, the 19th century American showman and circus owner.

JPR and the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University present the Jerry Douglas Band in concert Thursday, October 6, 2016 at the SOU Music Recital Hall in Ashland at 8pm.

Dobro master and 13-time Grammy winner Jerry Douglas is to the resonator guitar what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar: elevating, transforming, and reinventing the instrument in countless ways. In addition to being widely recognized as the foremost master of the Dobro, Jerry Douglas is a freewheeling, forward-thinking  musician whose output incorporates elements of bluegrass, country, rock, jazz, blues and Celtic into his distinctive musical vision.

A New Beginning

Jun 30, 2016
TVA ARCHITECTS

After over 47 years operating from its cramped, outdated facility located in the basement of Central Hall on the Southern Oregon University (SOU) campus, JPR is getting a new home.  As part of the renovation and expansion of SOU’s theatre and performing arts building, The Oregon Center for the Arts (OCA), a new state-of-the-art JPR studio facility will be constructed starting this month with completion scheduled for late summer 2017.

As you might imagine, JPR gets a fair amount of listener feedback. A recent email from one listener criticized JPR for an episode of RadioLab we aired which this listener contended was the final straw that proved JPR supported the proliferation and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs have been a hot topic in recent years, both regionally and nationally, with bans approved by voters in Jackson and Josephine counties and the narrow defeat of an Oregon statewide GMO food labeling initiative in 2014.

Turning A Page

Mar 2, 2016

Welcome to JPR’s new member magazine, The Jefferson Journal! We consider The Jefferson Journal to be a natural evolution of The Jefferson Monthly, a publication JPR has produced and published since April, 1993. Going back to the JPR history vault even further, The Jefferson Monthly was the successor to The Guide to the Arts, which JPR first began publishing in March, 1977.

TVA Architects

Jefferson Public Radio (JPR), extends the regional educational mission of Southern Oregon University (SOU) by promoting lifelong learning, providing access to diverse arts and cultural programming, creating globally aware citizens and fostering the intellectual growth and civic engagement of Southern Oregon and Northern California communities.

TVA Architects

Click on the slide show above for architectural renderings and current site photos of the JPR Studio and Oregon Center for the Arts complex by TVA Architects.

TVA Architects

PROJECT TIMELINE:

  • October, 2016: Design work completed
  • November, ,2016: Construction bidding and selection of general contractor
  • February, 2017: Construction begins
  • February, 2018: Construction completed
  • April, 2018: Move completed

FUNDING OVERVIEW:

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This past summer I wrote about NPR’s plan to restructure its newsroom shifting resources from beat reporters covering single issues to interdisciplinary teams. The goal of this approach is to provide more holistic coverage of complex issues from diverse vantage points. Also central to this effort is a new commitment by NPR to integrate the work of local station and regional reporters into its coverage.

Stories And Grace

Nov 1, 2015
StoryCorps

On the morning after the horrific mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg I listened to Morning Edition intently to learn more about the tragic events of the previous day.  That morning NPR aired a StoryCorps segment that reminded me of the power of personal stories to put in context even the darkest reaches of the human experience.

Making Radiowaves

Oct 1, 2015

This past summer has been an active time here at JPR as we’ve been addressing both long and short term issues that impact our service to the region.  I thought I’d take a moment to update you on some of those recent developments.

Jackson County News And Information Service Gets FM Frequency

After about a year of concentrated effort to acquire and construct an FM translator for our News and Information Service in Jackson County, we were finally successful and able to begin service on 102.3FM in mid-September.  

JPR's News and Information Service is now available on 102.3FM in the Rogue Valley! After nearly a year of concentrated effort to acquire and construct an FM translator for our News and Information Service in Jackson County, we began service today. Broadcasting is a highly regulated industry and the effort to make this happen was multi-layered, requiring extensive legal and technical work and the joint support of Southern Oregon University and the JPR Foundation.

I’m writing this on the day of the first debates between candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination. When I walked into our studio this morning one of our staff members was commenting with surprise that the debates weren’t accessible online without a Fox News Channel subscriber password. I must confess, before today I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to how the debates were being made available to the public.

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