Local radio station struggling to survive through COVID-19, seeks help
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A local radio station is in danger of losing its home at the end of this month if they can’t raise enough money to pay off the loan they used to buy the station.
KRLT FM and KOWL AM are locally owned and operated stations that have been on the air for 40 and 60 years, respectively.
Five years ago, station general manager Steve Harness purchased the station. The loan they took out to purchase the station has a balloon payment that is due by July 1. However, like most businesses, the station was hit hard by COVID-19 and lost 80% of their revenue while their overhead stayed the same.
KRLT is home to local celebrity and host of “Howie’s Morning Rush,” Howie Nave, who said he’d “be bummed” if he didn’t have the show anymore.
“We are the voice for not just South Lake, but for all of Tahoe,” Nave said.
The station offers news updates, ticket giveaways for local shows, interviews with artists and comedians, spotlights non-profits and does a ton of fundraising.
Nave, with the financial support of Ricky Reich, has given away thousands of dollars to support residents during the crisis.
“All you people who won money, if you donate a $100, we’ll be in the black,” Nave jokes, but in all seriousness, Nave is proud of the support he’s been able to give to residents and nonprofits such as Christmas Cheer and the Barton Foundation.
The station is also home to “Sierra House Weather Kids,” a program that has allowed fifth graders with good grades to go on-air to give the local weather report for 35 years.
Harness started a GoFundMe to raise the $100,000 needed to keep the station afloat. If they can raise the money, he can extend the loan terms.
Nave, and the station, provide community services but could be sold off to a national radio company, which might make it lose its local flavor.
“I’m essential!” Nave said at the end of his conversation with the Tribune.
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