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Pappas, Myers and Taylor take over Sonoma's community airwaves

While the ink is barely dry on the official occupancy papers, new owners Stan Pappas, John Myers and Bob Taylor are back behind the soundboard at KSVY 91.3 like it is any other day.

In perhaps Sonoma Valley's worst-kept secret, the three partners have this week officially assumed the reins of Sonoma's only local radio and TV stations from founder and longtime owner Bill Hammett. A newly dubbed parent company, Sonoma Valley Community Communications, led by Taylor, will operate KSVY as a nonprofit out of a storefront on West Napa Street, next to Papa Murphy's Pizza. “This [the transfer] is the right step at the right time,” said Hammett.

Taylor will continue to serve as station manager; Pappas will be the program director and sales manager; and Myers will oversee marketing.

Keeping the radio and TV station afloat will be a “labor of love” for these guys – and they take to the airwaves with the formal mission of “communicating and informing Sonoma Valley residents of all relevant information, resources and events that impact business, work and daily life in the Valley.” The broadcast operations “aren't making anyone rich, that's for sure,” said Pappas.

The new owners estimate that they have close to 40,000 potential listeners in the station's coverage area, which stretches north-south from Kenwood to Sears Point and east-west from Old Adobe Road to Old Sonoma Road. Using data gained from an internal audit conducted in 2015, the broadcast enterprise had 250,000 engagements, or points of contact (though radio, TV, online streaming or social media), a number that Myers thinks can be bumped higher in 2016.

“We offer fresh content from 8 in the morning until 11 in the evening and then offer music throughout the night,” said Taylor. “And we have some great plans in place to improve both our programming and how our listeners and viewers access it.”

The radio station relies on about 70 community volunteers to help create the original programming and host shows. “Our hosts are a microcosm of the city in general,” said Myers. “Young and old, male and female, two former mayors, business leaders, LGBT leaders and so on.”

Hammett recounts that when he launched the station 12 years ago, his greatest concern was finding people to host the radio programs. “I held a meeting for anyone who was interested and was relieved when 20 people showed up,” he said. “Within a week we had 40, then 60. There is so much talent and enthusiasm in this town.”

The radio station's morning show “personalities” include Marcia Maycumber, Andrew David Cetina, Jennifer Blackwood, Leslie Tippel and Christa Granton. Other popular slots are Jeff's Joynt with Jeff Gilbert, Mr. P's R&R Riot, and afternoons at 5 p.m. when hosts like Cynthia Tarr, Cliff Hugo, Michael Coates, Jim Levy and Rick Wynne take to the airwaves.

Targeting programming covers politics, organic farming, sports, food and wine, health and exercise, Latino programming, LGBT issues and local news. “We have already added new shows for businesses,” said Myers. “We are looking to add women's programming and teens as well.”

For anyone who has ever needed to watch a four-hour City Council meeting, but preferred to do so with a glass of wine in hand, partner television station SVTV, channel 27, is a godsend. The station broadcasts almost 24 hours a day with a focus on civic programming and high school sports games. The regular meetings of the City Council, the Planning Commission, the School Board, the Citizens Advisory Commission and the hospital board can be watched live, on scheduled replay (typically the next day) or live-streamed on a computer or smart phone.

“And we hope to add more programming in the future,” said Myers. “Particularly girls volleyball and some original programming, perhaps in partnership with students at the high school,” he said. Right now the station televises home basketball, baseball, football and softball games, as well as some Stompers and Sonoma Sol games. Myers expects that social media will be crucial to the future of the station, and to that end the station has a new free KSVY phone app that enables listeners to tune in for free to the station anywhere there is wi-fi.

“Bob Taylor has done a tremendous job,” said Hammett, “and they are now ready to take it to the next level.”

To remain financially viable, Myers is busy signing on more local businesses as sponsors and planning fundraising initiatives. “The station is a community asset, and to survive we need to be supported both by sponsors and by donations,” said Pappas.

Added Myers: “We want to be seen as a cultural asset for Sonoma. We would like to be the voice of every nonprofit and event in Sonoma.”

Watch an interview on SVTV 27 with the filmmaker behind the short, “Sonoma.”

Contact Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

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