Jeff Schechtman Steps Down as GM of Napa Radio Stations

After 10 years as general manager and 16 as an on-air host, Jeff Schechtman is leaving his GM job at the end of the year to expand his interview program and develop other projects.

Submitted via email to napavalley@patch.com:

Jeff Schechtman will step down as general manager of Napa radio station KVON/KVYN effective Jan. 1, station owner Roger Walther and Schechtman announced jointly Tuesday. Schechtman has held that position for 10 years.

Are you a fan of Jeff Schechtman? What do you think of this news? Tell us in the comments below.

“Ten years is a long time in any one job, and it seemed an ideal time to move on to pursue some projects I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now,” said Schechtman, who has been with the station since 1996, when Tom Young owned it.

“There is always a tendency to get stale after too long in one job, and in one place.”

Walther, owner of Wine Country Broadcasting, announced in September that he was considering the sale of 1440 KVON and 99.3 KVYN.

Schechtman, who was originally an on-air personality and became general manager under the ownership of Charley Moss in April 2003, continued as GM after Walther purchased the station in 2003.

The “Late Mornings with Jeff Schechtman” interview program has been on the air continuously for 16 years. Schechtman has interviewed more than 7,500 authors, journalists, scientists, artists and opinion leaders. His afternoon show, “Afternoon Edition,” has long been a staple of local political conversation.

“Jeff Schechtman has provided nine years of solid leadership for Napa Valley’s only radio stations,” said Walther. “It was time for Jeff to take on new challenges and for the station to review its position in the Napa marketplace.”

As an on-air personality, Schechtman never shied away from controversy on local issues. Before it became fashionable, he long believed that Napa needed to change to become a more sophisticated, world-class city.

Schechtman will develop a number of new projects including the expansion of his current interview program. He is also working on “World Talk Live,” slated to be the first global, interactive, multi-platform talk show. Using his interview show as a launching pad, he is also seeking to bring authors and thought leaders in closer contact with Silicon Valley and Washington through his “Author’s@” program. Schechtman has two book proposals currently in the hands of publishers and two documentary projects in development.

“Because we live in such a beautiful place, there is often a tendency to become too complacent and too inward-looking,” Schechtman said. “On the other hand Napa, because of its reputation and cachet, can also be a great place from which to launch so many other exciting efforts.”

Walther said he would make an announcement shortly with respect to a new GM for the stations.

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King Jarvis IV December 05, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Good point, USS. I remember that pirate station, which was, ironically right in downtown proper. A friend of this King was one of the last to abandon USS KVON and made note of neglect and indifference on the part of management.
Scott Yeager December 05, 2012 at 01:57 PM
The FCC is known to shut down pirate radio stations? I had no idea!
Scott Yeager December 05, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I am amazed you can have a radio station in such a small market. Someone must be doing something right at that place.
Penny December 05, 2012 at 04:01 PM
There are 3 people on 910 that are not right leaning - Listen to that station starting at 3 until 9PM Many kgo people are there.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 05, 2012 at 05:22 PM
The owners are very, very rich. You know that ugly green barn on Silverado Trail upvalley? They keep their vintage cars in it.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 05, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Wow, a pirate freeform station - that must have been before my time. Intriguing!
Scott Yeager December 05, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Oh, that explains it. I was wondering how you could even break even in this market with a radio station.
Scott Yeager December 05, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Louisa, you worked with Jeff at the station right?
Barry Martin December 05, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Thanks for the plug, Louisa! Hoping for a big turnout for this huge collaborative project.
Barry Martin December 05, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Small market? I've seen stations that thrived and made money in markets a third the size of Napa. KVON/KVYN were profitable for many years when they were owned by people who were BROADCASTERS. Unfortunately, the big corporations drowned out a lot of originality, and independent stations became playthings for people with either money to burn or a social/political ax to grind. Terrestrial radio still has its place - for a little while longer at least - and can succeed if managed by people who have a clue.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 05, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I sure did, from before he was made GM until early 2006. That was my last actual media job with an employer until Patch recruited me in 2010. (Peculiarly, this item was written ABOUT my LAST Napa boss (I'm managed remotely now) BY my FIRST Napa boss, Doug Ernst, who was editor when the newspaper hired me in 2000.) Anyway: I was news director in charge of 23 newscasts each weekday at the two stations, plus Saturday mornings. Jeff and I were on the air together every weekday afternoon for a while. Jamie Brown Miller and I had great fun together on the FM side. I also worked with Jay Arnold, Ron Brown, Barry Martin and Nancy Stapp, who later left Napa for Oregon. I have lots of audio recordings from this period, which came to an unfortunate end after my injury.
Scott Yeager December 05, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Barry - As you know, radio has changed a lot in the last decade. I am sure radio stations did make money in the past in smaller markets but there is so much eating up the audience now that wasn't there in the previously to compete with radio. Even using the term terrestial radio tells you something about how things have changed. Record labels used to make money, Best Buy and Circuit City (remember them?) used to make money, Records stores such as Tower Records (remember them?) used to make money and even exist. Radio has been destroyed by corporate monopolies along with a lot of other media (film, music, newspapers, publishing) as well, but some of it is also technology and the ability to get information, music etc. from different sources. There really has been an information revolution in the last decade. Why do you think Schechtman used the term "platform" in the press release concerning his upcoming projects?
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 05, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Barry, thank you for speaking up for radio and BROADCASTERS. Neither one is as good without the other. If Napa Valley Patch were also a radio station, I'd be in heaven.
Dan Monez December 05, 2012 at 06:24 PM
True, Jeff's on-air personality was often controversial and even abrasive but he challenged the status quo and made you think. Diana and I worked part time for him as on-air "fill-in" hosts for several years and he always treated us professionally and respectfully. As for the future of the station, I think it could be successful by capitalizing on its strength and its weakness. Its strength is that it is the only local station for the Napa Valley and one or both signals can reach from Calistoga to Vallejo. It is small and has low overhead costs. Its weakness is that it reaches a very small market compared to most stations today. It can't compete with the KGO's (news talk), KNBR (sports), or the Bay Area music genre stations. Its only hope for survival, as I see it, is either to return to a local "hometown" station format, with local programming and local news on both stations. KUIC FM in Vacaville has proven that model works. The other option, (and I just heard that this may the direction it goes), is to become a Spanish language station. Local advertisers like the option of targeting local customer bases and by design, KVON/KVYN does just that. It could and would work with the right on-air personalities and music genres. Really, if you think about it, the only reason to listen to terrestrial radio is to access local hometown information.
Barry Martin December 05, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Scott, you are right about how radio has been challenged by all the other ways to get "customized" music - from Sirius to iTunes to Pandora to Spotify and on and on. As Dan Monez commented below, the path to success for smaller local stations is to be local and to have good people on the air. On a larger-market scale, KFOG is a great example of terrestrial music-format radio done well. You always feel engaged when you listen to them - it's not just a series of songs that you can get anywhere. For KVON/KVYN to be relevant again, the stations need to give the audience something they want and can't get anywhere else. Just in terms of news and information - do you realize there is LESS local news content being generated day-to-day in the community that 20 years ago? Considering the community is much larger, more diverse and more complex than it was then, it's bizarre that there is LESS journalism instead of more.
Steve Sando December 05, 2012 at 07:30 PM
It would be hard to agree with Jeff 100% of the time (in fact, the only person who I agree with completely is ME!) but there was a period when he'd have these great guests and Louisa and he would banter back and forth and I remember thinking that I was learning something, as opposed to most news where you feel almost stupider after watching/listening. Neither were afraid to show off their intellect and knowledge and it was a treat. I think one of the problems has been that Jeff isn't very sentimental and sometimes you just want to tune in and hear small town radio. But there really was an era when I loved KVON and was an avid listener. I hope it can find a good mix again.
Scott Yeager December 05, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Barry - You can thank the corporatization of media in the hands of few and fewer companies, so in the hands of fewer and fewer people. I think your formula is right for local radio to work. KFOG has been able to maintain itself in the market place very well over the years. I don't listen to them anymore myself. In fact, I listen to only NPR on a somewhat regular basis. Once in a while I liste to KVYN. The music played on KVYN personally bores me most of the time. It's an annoying format. As a kid I listened to KSJO in San Jose in the 70s and up through the early 80s. It was quite good and would be considered very "eclectic" now with the music it played. The DJs were music people, unlike today, where most of them seem to want to talk to be heard and could care less about the music. Back then they were personalities but they also loved music. Big difference.
Scott Yeager December 05, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Online streaming!
Unfiltered Steve Simoneau December 05, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Well Scotty, the FCC didn't even bother until KVON/KVYN whined and complained, then they had to triangulate the signal to locate it at the VW shop. The FCC threatened to confiscate the equipment. It was off air for a few days and then popped back up. The FCC returned to the VW shop only to find no broadcasting equipment, just a couple greasy guys wrenching on old VWs. It became a "mobile" station and since its low-wattage range was limited the reception area would change every couple weeks. I remember being able to tune it in occasionally for quite a long time. So, the FCC may be known to TRY to shut down pirate raio staions but, Arrrrrrrgh, there be some crafty pirates out yonder! Oh, and JWP is close, but the station wasn't originally downtown. It was in a long-gone building on River St., right where the Wine Train parks their locomotives.
King Jarvis IV December 05, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I listen to I Heart Radio on my tablet alot, and that outfit seems to have a monopoly on talk radio stations throughout the US. Slacker is great for music, tablet, PC, or otherwise, yet it has a minimal amount of non music stations. We noticed that the Clear Channel logo is on most of the I Heart Radio stations. HRM
Unfiltered Steve Simoneau December 05, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Louisa, I see dozens of empty XM/Sirius radio stations on my truck's radio. I wonder how hard (i.e. expensive) it would be to start Patch Radio.
Scott Yeager December 05, 2012 at 07:59 PM
USS - People still do the same thing now. There is one in the Mission District of SF that has been going for years. Local radio always complains about low watt pirate stations. That is how the FCC finds out or some citizen does. Just like in spy movies they always triangulate the signal and move in for the kill!
Michael Haley December 06, 2012 at 05:43 AM
I'm a little late to the discussion, but although as Dan says Jeff could be abrasive or even downright nasty at times (to some people), he was well informed and intelligent and carried on an interesting conversation. He was also very involved in the local scene and knew what was going on. They could do worse getting someone else like him to carry on local talk, which is what I would prefer. I only listen to KVON/KVTN, I even like hearing the commercials because it is local and always tells me something that is going on around here. I like the music playlist except for the occasional rap stuff--boring.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 06, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Thank you for recalling that time, Steve, it was fun.
Art Morris December 06, 2012 at 08:55 AM
I would come back to listening to KVON if it was middle of the road. What I loved about the late Pete Wilson from KRON news and KGO radio was that he would purposely play "devils advocate" and take the other side of the issue to try to get people to think. Sometimes he'd be conservative and others liberal. I think that was his greatest strength and he got EVERYONE engaged. He always said he was doing his job correctly because he got hate mail from both sides. I wish KVON would do the same thing. It's easy to always be conservative or liberal and piss off half the population, but if you play it from the middle, you get a larger percentage of listeners. That's why Pete Wilson was so popular. Ronn Owens of KGO also does well (although Ronn does lean a little more left, but he tries).
Ron Brown December 06, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Aloha Louisa! Thank you for mentioning me. I truly enjoyed working with you at 1440 KVON and 99.3 The Vine. Happy Holidays and keep up the GREAT Work!
MICHAEL WILSON "Republican Kid" December 06, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Who Cares KVON KVYN were dead 20 years ago. You ever hear a Traffic report from that girl in the afterenoon?
Unfiltered Steve Simoneau December 06, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Wow, Michael, you're not blaming the demise of KVON/KVYN on Obama? I'm beginning to think you are becoming a Republican in rehab. Please don't tell us you're changing your name to MICHAEL WILSON "Recovering Republican". Dr. Drew would be so proud.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 06, 2012 at 06:41 PM
No radio station is dead as long as it has listeners. I wish KVON-KVYN all the best and if, as Dan hints, one or both of the stations may adopt a Spanish-language format under new ownership, I hope they'll consider letting us have an English-language show on Sunday mornings! Grin.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 06, 2012 at 09:17 PM
That was quick: They've named the new GM, who started working at the Register as circulation manager in July but has a radio background: http://napavalley.patch.com/articles/kvon-s-new-manager-named


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